Tuesday, 3 June 2014



It’s probably the continuing unstable and ghastly weather back there in the UK that has resulted in a flurry of unseasonal interest and bookings for both our Morocco and Andalusia tours.

Unseasonal too us are the middle-months, June, July and August, when it is too hot for our main tours and when we retreat to the air-con atmosphere of our office dealing with enquiries and bookings for the following year[s]. Also, during these middle months Motorowners/Caravaners are generally occupied on their current adventures. But as I say, not this year, interest is already high..

Two of our 2015 scheduled “Amazigh” and “Discovery” tours are now FULL…….but due to the aforementioned demand we are now adding just ONE extra date for both. There is now an additional MAY 2015 Discovery Tour and an additional SEPTEMBER 2015 AMAZIGH tour………

If you are interested contact us ASAP as these will be the final 2015 dates and we already have firm bookings for these particular tours.

[Can’t wait? JUST IN……Due to a client re-booking there is now ONE vehicle place on the “Amazigh” this September].


Many clients combine both Morocco and Andalusia into one cost effective tour, so I will mention here……

To celebrate the continuing success of our ANDALUSIA TOURS we have introduced the one-off GRUMBALL MOTORHOME TOUR with combined prizes of €1500euros, YES, I did say €1500euros, so given the very small numbers on the tour the odds of YOU winning €1000euros CASH are incredibly high.

Go to our Andalusia Blog for details and availability http://www.andalusiadetours.com/blog.html but hurry, we have 3 confirmed bookings already!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s just a few from the recent “Discovery” and “Amazigh” tours…………..




When the days begin to heat up in Morocco it is time to roll the carpets up and store them away until the cold weather returns. However, they must first be cleaned. At the moment in the Fez Medina there is a wonderful display of carpets being hung out to dry in the sun. The View from Fez investigated this annual ritual

Spring cleaning is a universal activity and in Morocco with its warmth and sunshine it is time to wash the carpets. Forget using a vacuum cleaner or even suggesting one. The suggestion that a vacuum cleaner might do the job is met with rolled eyes and ill-disguised derision. No, you will be told firmly, the carpets must be washed.

Washing a large Moroccan carpet is a major undertaking. Traditionally they are washed in a river, but for people in cities the only way of doing the job properly is with buckets of water and scrubbing brushes.

In the rural areas carpets are still washed in rivers and left to drain and dry on bushes or (as in the photo below) on bridges. Many of the rural women prefer to use hair shampoo rather than laundry detergent and make a distinction between "romi" or "beldi" carpets. The "beldi" rugs are made by the Amazigh (Berber) and highly prized. They are scrubbed whereas the "romi" or modern rugs are treated more gently as they are not as robust and if machine made the colours will often fade with washing.


Nothing self-righteous or any opinion intended, just an observation.

Not so long ago I would say that at least half of the clients on tour with us were “Smokers”. Without going into the endless why’s, why-not’s and reasons the drop-off has been dramatic and they are now a rare breed.

But this article is about Moroccan smokers………

Despite the massive rise in cost it would seem at times that everyone smokes in Morocco. I say cost as I must confess to purchasing bulk packs of the things. No, I’m a non-smoker myself but Debbie [wife] is and is unlikely to ever give them up. My warped logic is that one way or another I/we can pay for them either through the high cost  of the things in Spain or the relatively low cost in Morocco  i.e. the last time I brought packs back from Morocco they were 220Dhm [about 20euro] for 200.

Moroccan law on Smoking:

According to MAP, on February 3, 1996, the Moroccan law concerning the prohibition of smoking, general public announcements for it and for the prevention of tobacco use in public places was officially put into practice. However, given the reality of the current situation, was this law seriously implemented or was it just for show?  Since there seems to be no real repercussions or sanctions for those who break it, is it only one of those regulations that exists strictly on paper.

Here is an extract from the second chapter on “Prevention of Smoking in Public Places and Tobacco Publicising.”

Article 4: In accordance with this law, every place meant to be for public use is considered as public place including common institutions and administrations. Thus, smoking is prohibited in the public places cited as follows:

   • Administration offices for common use, meeting halls in public and private administrations.
   • Hospitals, health centers, convalescent centers and preventive healthcare centers and all their kinds.
   • Public transportation, except in the parts dedicated for smokers.
   • Theaters, cinemas, public party places.
   • Lecture and seminar halls and classrooms in educational institutions, whether public or private.

As can be seen in the above Article, taken from Title N15.91 of the Moroccan Law, it is obviously prohibited to smoke in most public places. However, most Moroccans refuse to abide by this law.

Public health is deteriorating, while the government has been lenient in enforcing this law. By failing to enforce the law as written, the government is failing to do its duty and protect its citizens.

On November 2013, an article in news outlet Annahar stated that approximately 16 billion cigarettes are consumed per year. Unfortunately, the article continues to state that, on average, 16 cigarettes are smoked by males and 8 by females per day. These monumental numbers finally rank Morocco as first in something… the biggest tobacco consumer in the Mediterranean region!

BBQ TIME………….Recipes for Moroccan charmoula.

This sauce and marinade brings North African depth and spice to seafood or vegetables on the grill or in the oven.

Along Morocco’s long coastline seafood is a staple, and before cooking, it’s often marinated in another Moroccan staple, charmoula, sometimes spelled “chermoula,” an aromatic paprika-, coriander-, and garlic-spiked sauce. Charmoula formulas differ from cook to cook — I like mine made with fresh (rather than dried) chillies and fresh (rather than preserved) lemon, and I add shallots. Those flavour’s shine when charmoula is used not just as a marinade, but as a dressing for simply grilled veggies like spring onions, fennel, portobello mushrooms, summer squash, or eggplant. It’s also terrific over grilled chicken or lamb, grilled or baked sweet potatoes, and as a dipping sauce for artichokes. I’ve even drizzled it over sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, like a caprice salad by way of Morocco.


Makes 1 cup
1/3 cup chopped coriander
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 large shallot, chopped
1 mild red chilli, such as Fresno, Holland, or cherry pepper, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a mini chopper or food processor, process the coriander, parsley, shallot, chilli, garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water until chopped, about 45 seconds. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow stream; continue to process until the puree is smooth, at least 1 minute, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary. Use as a sauce or marinade, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week.


Smoky Charmoula

Follow Charmoula recipe, reducing coriander to 2 tablespoons, increasing parsley to ½ cup, and substituting smoked (sweet or bittersweet) paprika for sweet.
Charmoula with Preserved Lemon
Makes about 1¼ cups

Follow Charmoula recipe, reducing coriander to 2 tablespoons and cumin to ¼ teaspoon, increasing the parsley to ½ cup and the coriander to 1 teaspoon, and adding 3 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon rind, or more to taste.


Serves at least 6

Serve this dish with couscous, rice, or baguettes.
2¼ pounds skinned meaty white fish fillets (such as sea bass, snapper, halibut, or monkfish), cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup charmoula
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 very large onion, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
Salt and pepper
1 medium-large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch-thick strips
2 medium-small zucchini, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
1 small lemon, thinly sliced
½ cup pitted green olives, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped corinader

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, gently toss the fish with ½ cup charmoula; cover and refrigerate until needed.

Smear a wide 2½- to 3-quart baking dish with oil, sprinkle in the onion slices, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Scatter the sweet potato and then the tomatoes over the onion, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake until the sweet potato chunks are barely tender when poked with a knife, about 30 minutes. 

Remove the foil, spread the bell pepper and zucchini in the dish, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and pour the remaining charmoula evenly over the vegetables. Replace the foil and bake until the zucchini is barely tender, about 15 minutes longer. 

Remove the foil, spread the fish with its marinade over the vegetables, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the lemon slices and olives over the fish, and bake, uncovered, until fish is firm and opaque in the centre, 15 to 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the coriander and serve.


Makes about 4 cups

If fresh sardines seem like too much effort, you can substitute 2 drained 4.5-ounce cans of sardines (or two 5-ounce cans of solid tuna), mixing them into the beans with the charmoula. Quartered grape tomatoes make a great addition, too.

½ cup finely chopped red onion
2 pounds fresh sardines
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 19-ounce cans navy or cannellini beans, drained
2 large ribs celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup charmoula, or more, to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, cover the chopped onion with cold water. Soak for 15 minutes, then drain, blot dry with paper towels, and set aside.

Meanwhile, rinse the sardines under cold water, gently rubbing off any scales. Working one at a time, cut off the head just behind the gills, slit the belly, and gut. Spreading the fish open, place it skin side up on the work surface and gently press to flatten; turn the fish over, grasp the backbone at the head end, and pull out. Repeat to butterfly the remaining sardines, then rinse and blot dry. Brush the sardines’ skin with oil and sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes. (If using gas, leave the burners on high.) Clean and oil the grate and grill the sardine’s skin side down until the flesh is firm and opaque, about 5 minutes, and set aside.

In a large nonreactive bowl, stir the beans, onion, celery, lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt to combine. Add a generous ½ cup charmoula and most of the parsley and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt or lemon juice if necessary. 

Transfer the bean mixture to a serving platter or bowl, arrange the grilled sardines over the beans, drizzle with the remaining charmoula, sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and serve.


It all started 11 years ago  as a simple festival, since then Mawazine – Rhythms of the World has  become the main musical event in the Maghreb, an international event, a world class event….. that knows how to communicate tolerance and respect through music and art; the universal values at the core of this creation. It is also a unique occasion to bring together audiences from all backgrounds to share the same passion.

By inviting thousands of singers and musicians from the four corners of the world, Mawazine – Rhythms of the World calls for sharing and conviviality between cultures.  Past editions saw some of the biggest of world stars: Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Scorpions, Jimmy Cliff, Gloria Gaynor, The Jacksons, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Shakira, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Deep Purple, Enrique Iglesias... but also Khaled, Nancy Ajram, Warda Al Jazayria, Amr Diab, Hussain Aljassmi, Majda Roumi, Kadem Saher, Ahlam, Tamer Hosny, Walid Toufic, Sherine, Cheb Mami, Najwa Karam etc etc.

Sign of its growing success, Mawazine festival held 2.500.000 festival goers and over 30 million viewers in 2013, making it the 2nd biggest festival in the world in terms of multitude…..and 2014 promises even more…..

This year’s event was opened by Justin Timberlake whose performance began with a great deal of enthusiasm, as audience members cheered, clapped and screamed when he came on stage. Many danced and sang along as he performed his most famous songs…….next big name? Alicia Keys.

Africa’s “Glastonbury”  some would say…..the festival will host over 1500 artists from around the world performing more than 125 shows spread over seven sites. Unfortunately by time I post this it will all be nearing its end…….it runs from 30th May ‘till 7th June……..never mind, next year maybe.

A world class event indeed…………..

ALL IN A DAY……………..

Taken over just one day, from a terrace above Fez, a great series of Photos showing how quickly the weather can change and the dramatic effect.


I am a prolific reader [worse since the Kindle]……..mostly historical non-fiction and well researched historical novels. Favorite author of the moment is Noel Gordon. If you read no other book this year look at “The Physician” An outstanding read and I guarantee you will continue with the whole “Cole Trilogy”. Just looked on Kindle and it is offered at the silly price of 1.99.