In particular a welcome to the wonderful Auberge du Sud at Merzouga, Erg Chebbi ……. To many this will be a reminder of your earlier visit to this unique and exclusive camping location with Desert Detours.
Never resting Auberge du Sud continues with upgrades and enchantments, whilst never loosing sight of that very personal touch which makes this a truly exceptional location……..and one that continues to offer an exclusive camping area available only for Desert Detours clients. Take a look……..
Even more than is normal recent visitors to Morocco would quickly have become aware of the sound of drumming. Everywhere small drums and tambourines are being carried and played by children. From the large supermarkets to small street stalls drums in every shape and size are for sale everywhere.
The most common instruments for sale are small colourful tambourines and shopkeepers explained that usually boys had a tambourine and girls a vase-shaped ta’arija. However, this is not strictly observed and we saw all kinds being played by boys and girls.
What was it all about?........ Ashura !
Trying to discover the reason for such gifts during Ashura is complex as everyone has a different explanation. One of the most common responses to the question "why do children get gifts of drums at Ashura?" is "So they will be happy". ……… and they are “happy” well into the early hours during the celebrations.
Sunni followers also fast to commemorate the day when Moses and his followers were saved from Pharaoh by Allah creating a path in the Red Sea. According to Muslim tradition, the Jews used to fast on the tenth day. So Muhammad instructed his followers to be different from the Jews and recommended fasting two days instead of one.
In some villages there is still the tradition of Baba Ashura, ("Baba Achour") a father Christmas type, who, dressed in a costume of goat skins, gives out the gifts to children. In the Moroccan city of Goulmima there is a large street festival where people celebrate Ashura by wearing costumes, different skins of sheep and goats, and scary looking animal masks. In the Berber tradition, the costumed people are referred to as “Udayen n Ashur,” the Jews of Ashura. With only tambourines and handclaps, “Udayen n Ashur” creates lively music, performances of acrobatic dancers. Everyone sings and dances with amusing variations on the songs, until very late into the night.
The Amazigh [Berbers] have a different name for each of the three days of Zamzam: The first day is “Bou Isnayen” the second, “Bou Imerwasen” and the third is, “Bou Imrazen.” These are translated as “the day of throwing water,” “the day of repayment,” and finally “the day of fight.” On any one of these days, if water is thrown at a person, they have the right to throw stones back.
On the lighter side, a client, walking down a dark Medina alley and hearing the sound of drums, first in the distance, but getting closer, said "It brought to mind the drums of Khazad-dûm deep in Moria and at any moment I expected to see a horde of Orcs appear. Instead it was six small boys with huge drums..."
A PEACEFUL MARCH………..
October 16th, was the 40th anniversary of the day that the country's King called for an event which became Morocco's famous Green March.
In its opinion, dated 16 October, the Court of Justice ruled that the Sahara has never been "terra nullius," and that there were legal ties between the territory and the Kingdom of Morocco. On the same day Hassan II decided to call for the organisation of a peaceful Green March in early November.
This months the feature “Photo Of The Month” is by Cat Wilson, an Australian now living in Morocco………..
Moroccan forests and mountains once harboured many animals that are now extinct, some due to natural causes, but many caused by humans. According to the High Commission for Water and Forests, many remaining species are considered endangered and in the years to come, could face the same unfortunate fate as their extinct predecessors. Other threatened species are already considered extinct in the wild, but can be found in zoos and animal reserves.
The Atlas Bear is believed to be Africa’s only native bear that once inhabited the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and neighbouring countries. The last sightings of the Atlas Bear date back to the late 1800s.
Following its expansion in North Africa, the Roman Empire hunted thousands of these bears for sport and entertainment. The animal which is a sub-species of the brown bear is now assumed to be extinct.
The North African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana pharaoensis), is an elephant species that once existed in North Africa during ancient Roman times and were used mostly in wars.
Reports suggest that the North African Elephants or Atlas Elephants must have become extinct just some decades after the Roman conquest of North Africa. Extinction of the Atlas Elephant is said to be due to overhunting by the Romans for use in the Venatio games: a form of sport that involved hunting and slaying of wild animals.
The Scimitar Oryx, a.k.a the Sahara Oryx, is a spiral horned antelope that stands over 1 m at the shoulders. The male weight ranges between 140 and 210 kg and the females 91 and 140 kg. It is said to have reduced its numbers as a result of climate change and excessive hunting for its horns. It once occupied all of North Africa and lived essentially in deserts.
THE BUBAL HARTEBEEST ....
The Bubal Hartebeest, a.k.a. the Bubal Antelope, lived in Morocco and across North Africa. Large numbers were still sighted alive in the north of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in 1738, it was hunted to distinction. Reports suggest that the last Bubal Hartebeest in Morocco was shot in Missouri in 1925, and according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature the last one in the world was killed in Algeria between 1945 and 1954.
The last Civilized Place, Sijilmasa and its Saharan Destiny is a new book by Ronald Messier and James Miller.
Many people know the word Sijilmasa and regard its existence as merely legendary. What was the reality of Sijilmasa, perhaps the most important forgotten place in Moroccan history?
Messier and Miller compare models of Islamic cities to what they found on the ground to understand how Sijilmasa functioned as a city. Continuities and discontinuities between Sijilmasa and the contemporary landscape sharpen questions regarding the nature of human life on the rim of the desert. What, they ask, allows places like Sijilmasa to rise to greatness? What causes them to fall away and disappear into the desert sands?
For many years’ tourist operators [ourselves included] and travel websites have warned visitors about the tap water quality in Morocco. While that advice was well meaning, it has now been proved wrong. Not only did it cause apprehension about health concerns, it fuelled massive consumption of bottled water and huge amounts of plastic waste.
We still take no chances and use bottled, which is in any case so cheap.
The popular bottled mineral waters are Sidi Ali, Sidi Harazem (Saint Ali, Saint Harazem) etc., the joke phrase for tap water is Sidi Robinet (Saint Tap).
The emphasis is that it's vital to do what your mother taught you as a child and wash your hands before eating. Most upset stomachs are caused by handling dirty bank notes and other items, then eating bread with your hands and transferring the bacteria to your stomach.
Moroccans are fastidious about washing their hands before eating and every café, no matter how humble, will have a sink with running water for washing your hands. Mime 'hand washing' and you'll be pointed to it. You'll also gain street credibility amongst Moroccans who are generally amazed at the poor personal hygiene of Europeans."