Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 10: Skoura-Ait Benhaddou

Fresh Chickens anyone?

The view from the pool at Ait Ben Haddou

Dr Berber, myself and the pink waiter - I gave him desert Berber head wear, he gave me a man's style. Lots of laughs and sad to be leaving.

One of the many kasbahs on the road of a 1000 kasbahs

Hollywood meets Berber at Skoura - a bit of a culture shock between the authentic and the touristy, but a stop on the way is necessary in all this driving.

Our guide shows us the way life was in a Kasbah - at least for the women.

Light plays on the wall of the courtyard or Riad as it is known. Fruit trees and planted for shade.

Knock off time for the extras at Ait Ben Haddou

The real town of Ait Ben Haddou - back to the hawkers but 188 steps to the top was worth the view

View over the area from the ramparts

After a ceremonial "head scarf tying competition" between myself and the "pink waiter" and some more laughs, we said goodbye to the M'goun valley and set off on the fabled 'Road of 1000 Kasbahs'. Our first stop is at Skoura Oasis, home of several privately-owned Kasbahs, where we visit the splendid Kasbah Ameridhl with its extravagant decorations and mud-brick fortifications, and early kitchen and craft implements. The most intriguing was an antique wooden lock that is a pice of sculpture in iself and something I would love to buy if only my 20kgs bag limit would allow.

Continuing our journey we reach Ait Benhaddou, one of Morocco's greatest paradoxes. This place is home to a list of movies made here, including the fight scene from Gladiator where a buffed Russell Crowe proves his manhood in the arena and becomes a favourite of his slave master. Scenes in Star Wars were also shot here, but I wouldn't know, being the only human on Earth who hasn't seen the movies (or four). However, Hollywood aside, it is still, in its own right, one an interesting sight in Morocco with a superb collection of mud-brick kasbahs are without equal. We enjoyed a walk through the old town, waving at the extras from yet another Egyptian movie being shot here, whoo were "storming" the fortress and riding horses towards iconic gates that are used in amny movies, but which open on to nothing. (The Egyptian economy is almost built on its export of movies to the Arab speaking world).

I braved a swim in the pool, which has the most amazing view over the valley, but the roofing and planting of trees was not enough to shelter me from prying eyes - the waiter that just had to walk back and forth along the pool, the man who almost killed himself on the roof of a nearby building trying to get a look - so i quickly dressed and returned to the hotel. I guess it's nothing more than might happen in a SYdney building site, and even though I decided it was their behavioural problem, nt mine and that I was just doing what's natural, it does make me uncomfortable. I think it is sad, for many reasons, that females are so covered up that men will do anything to get a look at a woman, to touch her etc. Frankly, it's not natural.

had another dinner of salads, tangine and fruit.....

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