Rural Life in the morning

We wake up to a cockerel concert and another frosty morning. I hop out of bed to light the fire and then I venture out to find some eggs. We don’t have any small change, so I take a couple of things to barter; a beer, some candles plus one stray Euro I found in my pocket.

I have a little conversation in Arabic with a guy who I ask where to buy eggs. He scratches his head, he doesn’t know. I say there must be eggs around here, this place is full of chickens. Indeed, they are running all over the road. He laughs and points up the hill, there’s a shop up there where you may be able to buy some.

It’s the direction we want to travel anyway, so we take Emma up the hill and stop outside the shop/café by the mosque. The proprietor is sweeping the road in the early morning sunshine. He beckons us in. He has no trouble changing a 100 dirham note for us and sells us his last 5 eggs. Then he invites us for tea and breakfast, as a friendly gesture, at no charge he insists. Welcome to Morocco we hear again, and every time we hear it, it is so heartfelt and often accompanied by some kind of gesture, in this case a proud presentation of two freshly baked, round semolina cakes, accompanied by a saucer-full of fresh olive oil to dip them in, and two pancakes, to be washed down with cups of Moroccan tea. His wife is in the back room doing the cooking; the delicious smell reaches the street and soon attracts other customers. We bask in the sunshine, enjoy the tasty food, chat with the locals and watch life pass by; children going to school, donkeys being taken to the olive groves and chickens fluttering about underneath people’s feet.

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After heartfelt thanks, we leave a secret tip on the plate and go to drive off with Emma, but just as I am about to switch on the motor, someone is knocking on my window. A well-dressed, smiley and quietly spoken man politely asks me in perfect French for our passports. He is surrounded by a group of men and they all look on expectantly. We tell them that we’d already had our papers checked by the police the day before. He says he’s from the local authority, it’s just a formality, just the passports. I smile back to him sweetly and say how do I know that you are who you say you are? In the end I agree to accompany him, passport in hand, to the official building across the street. The smiles never stop when he offers me a chair in his little office, with just a desk and a computer, a filing cabinet and by now about 5 other men. I trust him now and want to hand over our passports, but he won’t have any of it and says, no you keep hold of your passport and fill in the details on this sheet of paper. I think he actually appreciates that I’m not too trusting of just anyone. Everyone is super-polite and smiley, and asking questions about our next destination, which I give as Fes. Just when I’m finished filling in the data, an older man in a beautiful Jellaba comes in and introduces himself as the top authority of the region. He welcomes me to Morocco, once again repeating with emphasis his position as head of the region.

Then we all walk back to Emma together, where Frank also gets welcomed and greeted and we are then waved off with their best wishes and hopes that we enjoy the beauty and richness that Morocco has to offer.


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