After a couple of hugely successful trial-run tours last December and this February we are for 2015 [and selected 2014 dates] introducing the all new “PREMIUM” Moroccan Tours.
Essentially the “PREMIUM” tours will be small group excursions [around 5 vehicles only] and will be led by myself together with Tour Assistant A’hammed.
These new “PREMIUM” tours will offer a number of unique features and locations not readily available on our regular tours and will take advantage of the many personal and exclusive contacts I have made over the past 30+ years of visiting the region.
For details and availability email your landline phone number for a non-sales chat………..
NOTE……..Our Classic, Discovery and Amazigh tours will of course continue as published i.e. every month bar July/August and will in future be led by our long-serving Tour Leaders and Support Staff.
JUST BACK AND OFF AGAIN IN A FEW DAYS……….
Unfortunately a client vehicle breakdown on route to departure point and another client experiencing personal issues back in the UK [both re-booked] meant that the tour went ahead with just 4 vehicles.………We NEVER cancel a tour…….. As during December our regular “Classic” 11 vehicle tour group followed some days behind so as not to clash.
Having left behind a deluged UK and battled through some pretty awful conditions in mainland Europe the expected weather in Morocco was high on the agenda at the pre-tour briefing. Heavy snow had been reported on all the High Atlas Passes and persistent rain shrouded the north and southern plains…..anxious times indeed for both A’Hammed and me! As it turned out the weather throughout the trip was all but perfect with a couple of chilly nights and just one short overnight rainfall [on the first night].
Just before our Meski departure for the Dunes the wind picked-up, carrying with it clouds of dust and sand and cutting visibility to just yards.
As quick as it arrived it dropped but from years of experience we knew where it would be lying in wait. As expected our “piste” section to Erg Chebbie was unusually exciting…………but a great experience!
The only casualty was the planned
camp-meal that was put-off until the next day [we will probably do that anyway
in future] and the usual horizon to horizon clear blue skies returned after an hour
or so…..In fact most clients took advantage of the magnificent clear night sky
and mild temperature and ventured off into the deeper dunes for the organised
overnight “Bivi Camp”.
TALKING OF A’HAMMED……..
More than valued we at Desert Detours consider A’Hammed family. Indeed, we have seen him though early childhood, youth, young man, marriage to Radia and birth of his own son Yazzime.
Hang on; did I say his own son? Not another employee on the way!!!!!
Desert Detours did have two Renault Traffic People Carriers. We now have just one and a load of spares. Like they say “s**t happens”………... never mind, I didn’t like the colour anyway!
ANOTHER SYNAGOGUE RESURRECTED……….
Tuesday’s announcement came as the Moroccan ambassador in Berlin, Omar Zniber, launched an exhibit at the embassy’s cultural center of photographs of Moroccan Jews from the 1960's as well as new photos of synagogues in the country, both pre-and post-renovation.
In addition, a conference on Moroccan Jewish cultural patrimony was hosted at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum this week.
A spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry said that the restoration of the 19th century Simon Attias Synagogue in Essaouira is to be completed in 2015. It is a joint effort with the Foundation of Jewish-Moroccan Cultural Heritage.
“With this project, the Federal Foreign Office supports the preservation of Jewish heritage in Morocco, thereby helping to strengthen the national identity of the country,” he said.
The programme already completed the restoration of the 17th century Slat al Fassiyin synagogue in Fez, which had been used as a carpet factory and then a boxing ring. It was rededicated in ceremonies last year.
At that ceremony, Moroccan King Mohammed IV called for the restoration of all synagogues in the country “so that they may serve not only as places of worship, but also as forums for cultural dialogue and for the promotion of our cultural values.”
It is the season of the women in white and the mat man is dead. Up on the roof a man is calling out to Lalla Malika. He has been calling for weeks, hour after hour. It is the season of the women in white.
Up on the roof the mat man still calls to Lalla Malika; the female djinn [spirit] who seduces married men. There is only one thing sadder than a man possessed by a djinn and that is one abandoned by her. Malika, he calls, Malika, come now. There is no response. A rooster crows on a nearby terrace. The cats fight and overhead the falcons soar on the thermals. It is the season of the women in white.
Downward now into the streets in the alleyways the wafting smells of hammam smoke, hot bread from a firane, kefta cooking, tagine magic and spices, charcoal braziers and incense. Luban jawi - the black Javanese incense for the djinn who is not Malika. She, they say, not mentioning her name, she, who lives in water. She who comes at night and claims the men Malika has not caught.
“Malika, come now”. The call is fainter here, down on the cobbled street, darker too, here where the sun has averted its eye as if to shade the fact that Malika is not coming.
The cry of Malika fades away, replaced by the shuttle clicking of a loom behind a windowless wall. Children’s fingers hard at work in dark spaces, gloom and cold surround the bucket maker amidst his cedar shavings and chips. And to the other side a man, face locked in a perpetual squint, embroidering sequins on a wedding dress for a woman whose destiny, like all her sisters, is to cast the garment aside and dress in white and walk the street alone.
A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW……..
The Cervantes Theatre in Tangier is considered to be a masterpiece of Spanish architecture - sadly, a hundred years after it was built it is in danger of crumbling into nothing. The cost of restoration and the question of who should pay for it have left the building in limbo. Nearby the port of Tangier is getting a face lift and a new marina, but the historical building seems forgotten.
The history of the building dates back to 1911, when a rich Spanish merchant, Manuel Pena, decided to erect the theatre and dedicate it to his wife Esperanza Orellana, who was a passionate theatre lover.
The theatre opened in December 1913 and its history is closely linked to the Spanish presence in Tangier. During the Second World War, Franco's troops who occupied the city considered the building to be too modernist and wanted to convert the theatre in the neoclassical style fascist. The building was saved that fate………fortunately, the fascists did not have the money.
In December 2013, Lopez Garcia staged a major exhibition devoted to the centenary of the theatre. A celebration was subdued because as observers commented, a monument, reduced to a wreck, is painful to see. Outside the yellow and blue ceramic decorating its facade is fading. And the inside, that once saw magnificent performances, is a wreck beneath a dilapidated ceiling - the remaining seats are covered with dust.
The theatre was the venue for the famous tenor Antonio Caruso, singer Patti Adeline and many Flamenco performances early last century. The Al Hilal troupe, composed of Moroccans from Tangier, gave a noted performance of Othello in the theatre in 1929.
Closed since 1974, the Cervantes Theatre has long been praised as symbolic of Morocco, while remaining the property of Spain. The two countries still do not reach an agreement for its restoration.
The Spanish government would like nothing better than to restore it, but with the current crisis it is impossible to approach the subject. Besides the cost, estimated at €4-5 million, the location in a run-down neighbourhood is a weak point…………sad really.
The Zaouia or monastery in Meknès is the main spiritual centre of the Aissawa brotherhood founded by Muhammad Ben Aïssâ at the end of the 15th century, construction resumed three centuries later under sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah. Often renovated by the Ministry for Habous and Islamic Affairs and maintained by the municipal services, this is the center of the brotherhood's international network. The site is open to the public all year round and is the location of the tombs of founder Chaykh Al-Kâmil, his disciple Abû-ar-Rawâyil, and the alleged son of the founder, Aïssâ Al-Mehdi.
Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet