Thursday, 2 April 2015

NO FOOLING .........


OK, a few days early but this time it’s a question of…….THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE TOUR………….

IT'S A TOUGH LIFE ........

Life for the Berbers in the High Atlas is challenging at any time, let alone the winter months, but this past 2014/15 winter season has been particularly harsh. 

Those of you who have travelled on our "Discovery" tour route should recognise some of the locations [and perhaps even some faces] .........

Ait Benhaddou is now a village in need of rescue.  Back in November 2014, the heavy storms caused major damage and now more than a year later, after being hit yet again, the site requires a massive commitment to save its World Heritage values for the future.
Some of our tours schedule a visit to the location, other times clients divert and call ... situated a little west of Ouarzazate on the Ounila River in Souss-Massa-Drass, Ait Benhaddou [Amizigh Ath Benhadu is a fortified city, or ksar.  It stands on the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech.

For years Ait Benhaddou has been a major tourist attraction as well as a location for a large number of films such as Sodom and Gomorrah [1963], Oedipus Rex [1967], Jesus of Nazareth [1977], The Jewel of the Nile [1985], The Last Temptation of Christ [1988], The Sheltering Sky [1990], Gladiator [2000], Kingdom of Heaven [2005], Babel [2006], Prince of Persia [2010] and Son of God [2014] ..... too name just a few .... In the fictional world of Essos in Game of Thrones, Ait Benhaddou is turned into Yunkai, the smallest of the three cities in Slaver's Bay, and Pentos, the biggest of the Free Cities.

Tourism is the primary source of income for the inhabitants of Ait Benhaddou.  Many of them rent out single rooms or buildings in the Kasbah to merchants from all over Morocco who sell souvenirs and jewellery there.  Some of them offer their former living quarters in the old village as museums.  Recently, two hotels also opened in the old adobe fortress. Their owners make sure that the storm damages to their buildings are mended as quickly as possible.  Yet for most of the residents of Ait Benhaddou restoring the old structures is not worthwhile.

Sadly Ait Benhaddou could soon well turn out to be no more than a memory .....
And excellent video, give it a "Click" ......

Add to chicken or when roasting lamb preserved Lemon transforms a dish .... You can of course buy ready packed jars in Morocco, but when they run out ..... Take .....
6 Lemons, 5 for preserving plus the juice of 1
250g [9oz] sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. coriander seeds, crushed
1 red chilli [optional]
Preserving time 8-10 weeks
Sterilise a 750ml [1 pint 61/2 fl oz] preserving jar with a sealable lid and dry it thoroughly.
Top and tail three of the lemons and slice them in half lengthwise. Slice the halves into quarters and then into eighths.
Pour a 1cm [1/2in] layer of salt into the bottom of the jar.  Toss the lemon slices in some of the salt to coat them and press a layers of lemon slices into the jar.  Add a little salt, a bay leaf and a few crushed coriander seeds.
Repeat this process 2 more times to bring the lemons up to the top of the jar, then top it off with the remaining coriander seeds, salt and the whole chilli, if using.
Pour the juice of 1 lemon over the whole thing.  Seal the jar and store it in a cool dark place.
The lemons will shrink every 2 days or so.  As they do, add a few more lemon slices and push them down into the liquid that will build up.  Keep for 8-10 weeks and they are ready to use.
Handy Hint - When using these for cooking cut away the flesh and pith then use the rind as a flavouring.  You can use the whole slices but they are not meant to be eaten this way - they are there to lend a salty, zesty zing to your dish.

Morocco is to set its clocks forward by one hour from March 29.  The announcement was made by the Ministry of Civil Service and Modernisation [Ministere de la Fonction publique et de la modernisation de l'administration].  The legal time in Morocco will be GMT plus 1 as of 2am on the 29 March.
Of course, like last year, it could all go to "rats", with the government announcing amendments with little notice.  Also, during this period, Morocco seems to operate on two time levels .... "Modern" and "Antique" ..... as far as locals are concerned.  Daylight saving to Morocco is complicated by the advent of Ramadan, during which daylight saving is temporarily dropped ..... Details ..... But if you are on holiday who cares!
29 Mar 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Starts
Sunday 29 March 2015, 02.00.00 clocks are turned forward 1 hour to 03.00.00 local daylight time.
13 Jun 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Ends
Saturday 13 June 2015, 03.00.00 clocks are turned backward 1 hour to 02.00.00 local standard time.
18 Jul 215 - Daylight Saving Time Starts
Saturday 18 July 2015, 02.00.00 clocks are turned forward 1 hour to 03.00.00 local daylight time.
25 Oct 2015 - Daylight Saving Time Ends
Sunday 25 October 2015, 03.00.00 clocks are turned backward 1 hour to 02.00.00 local standard time.

While nobody objects to the improvements in communications infrastructure in Fez, there are questions being asked about the suitability of the placement and the design of the latest erection in R'cif tower, it is hard to imagine a lone palm tree tower looking much better!

There are alternative ways to disguise these cell phone towers, you can see them everywhere else .... but given the scale of the R'cif tower, it is hard to imagine a lone palm tree tower looking much better!