Saturday, 14 September 2013

It's been a while since I last wrote on  this blog, or on  any blogs. I have been doing other stuff like making jewellery and relearning how to crochet. I have also got addicted to Pinterest - which fulfills my need to collect stuff.

So now I am  gearing up for another visit to Morocco. This time for 5 weeks. We (that's me and my Moroccan husband Ammar) didn't visit last year. So this year we will see a few changes.

This time there will be four girls from the family who are attending university. Three have gone to Meknes and Khadija is continuing at Er Rachidia. And then there is Fatima-Zohra who is Ammar's cousin Ibrahim's daughter. She is also at Meknes and we are hoping to meet her.

Also new are two little girls, the twin daughters of Ammar's nephew and niece Hamid and Zhour. But they may not be at home as they are currently visiting Ammar's sister Zohra, who lives nearer to Agadir. She has moved home since we last visited and is now living in a home being built by her sons Ali, Hasssan and Hamid.

Ali is in the south of Morocco being a soldier and he is with his wife Bouchra - I haven't met her at all - only on skype. Hassan is in a home of his own with his wife Shadia and their two children Fatim- Zohra and Adam.

Hamid is living with him mum. But the other Hamid, who is Zohra's firstborn is just visiting. Zohra has two sons called Hamid - I call the first one Hamid the original to distinguish him. He is from Zohra's first husband.

Zohra has another son called Youssef and he is living in France with his French wife. We haven't heard from him for a long time.

Zohra is the sister I feel closest to - even though I cannot speak Tamazight and she doesn't speak English. I think I gel with her best as she has had a tough life and has spent a lot of it without a husband as he left the family some time ago. We have danced together - I have a phone video clip to prove it - and she took me to the Hammam and washed me. One of my most memorable experiences in Morocco.

Zohra is the furthest from the rest of the family - who mostly live in Merzouga or in the nearby town of Erfoud or the small desert village of Tafrouate ( not to be confused with the town of the same name further south, which has the famous blue painted rocks).

I don't know if we will visit Zohra this time as I want to go on a little trek in a 4x4 in the north of Morocco. But we will see.

Yesterday Ammar was on facebook talking to his nephew Idir (Sleepy Man) who was in Merzouga. We are hoping he can find a 4x4 and be our driver but it doesn't look that way as he will be starting a driving job soon in Marrakech, which he will do for a month.

Idir is one of the four children of Ammar's oldest brother Mohammed and his wife Zohra. I wasn't able to meet Mohammed as he had died before I even met Ammar. But I have listened to Ammar's tales of him and I feel I would have really liked him a lot. Zohra, his wife, lives with her sons and daughter in law and two lovely girlies Nazha and Hanan, in Merzouga. Her two daughters, Fatima and Mouna have married and have of course have left home, as brides always do in the Amazigh tradition.

Fatima is married to her cousin Mohamed ( another of Ammar's nephews) and they live fairly far away in the mountains where Mohamed is a teacher or maybe not a teacher now but still in education. Last time we visited in 2011 Fatima gave birth to a lovely son called Youssef but sadly he died last year.

Mouna, Mohammed and Zohra's other daughter, married her cousin ( on her mother's side) Ibrahim and they have a daughter called Fatim-Zohra.

And lastly there is Youssef - their oldest son, who is also married to a cousin on his mum's side. She is Fatima - mother to Nezha and Hanan. Youssef does building work in and around Merzouga. He has his own large house not far from where Ammar's third brother Zaid lives.

Ammar's second brother is Addi. He lives with his wife Khadija in his large pink house in Merzouga. I call it the pink house as it is painted inside in a dark shade of pink.

Addi is retired now after years of driving for the council. He and Khadija have seven children. The oldest is a daughter called Fatima, who lives in the village with her own family. She was followed by five sons - Mohammed, Ibrahim, Ali, Mustapha and Moha. Then there is another daughter; Nezha. She is one of the girls who has just gone to Meknes to university.

All of Addi's sons went to university and four of them became teachers. Only Ibrahim is still sharing the family home with his wife Khadija (who is also his cousin from his mother's side). They have two young sons, not yet at school. Ibrahim is a teacher at the school in Merzouga.

Ali is also married. He lives in Rissani, the nearest town, with his wife Aicha and their son Ayman. He teaches in one of the secondary schools in Rissani and lives in a flat in the town.

Mustapha is a geologist and works from Meknes, where he is living. He is not married. He is one of the first of Ammar's family that I met when he was a student in Meknes and living at 73 - the place where quite a few Amazigh students lived.

Moha is a teacher and spent his first couple of working years near Midelt but this year he has moved to a different town and will not have to endure the freezing cold winters. I have forgotten where exactly he has relocated but Ammar can tell me later.He attended the university at Er Rachidia.

Ammar's third brother is Zaid. He lives in Merzouga with his wife Rkia and their four daughters and two sons. Their eldest daughter is Khadija, who is now at university in Er Rachidia. She is studying science. Then their next daughter is Fatima and she began university at Er Rachidia but changed courses and went to Meknes. She will be starting her second year this autumn. She will be joined there by her sister Zhour.

Zaid and Rkia's first son is Mohamed and he is at school in Rissani. Then there is Khawla who is at school in Merzouga and then the baby of the family Ayoub, who is not really old enough for school but I think he goes there sometimes.

Ammar has two more sisters; Fatima and Rkia. Both are married and both live out of Merzouga. Fatima lives in the far off desert village of Tafrouate, a four hour drive over the piste ( unmade road) from Merzouga. Last time we visited we came from the direction of Zagora, where a tarmac road was being constructed.

Fatima is married and at one time she and her husband were living the life of nomads. Fatima adapted to the lifestyle very well. But now they live in a house with their sons and just one daughter, Aicha. But the daughters have been replaced with daughters - in - law, both called Zhour.

Fatima's oldest daughter is Moma - she lives in the same village with her second husband and four daughters and a son.  She has another daughter from her first marriage called Rkia and Rkia lives with her grandmother Fatima but at the moment she is helping Zhour, another of Fatima's daughters, with the twins.

Fatima's third daughter is Aicha. She was married but it didn't work out so now she is living with the  family again.

Fatima has three sons; Hassan, Idir and Youssef. Hassan has married his cousin Zhour and they have a daughter - I have forgotten her name. Idir is married to his school days sweetheart, also called Zhour, and they live with the family, except that Idir works away from home doing geological work for a mining firm. I was speaking to him on facebook recently and he told me that another baby is due next year. He already has a son called Salah, who was a baby the last time we saw him. Idir posted a lovely photo of Salah and he is not a little boy with lots of black hair.

I first met Idir when he was a student in Meknes, living at 73 with Mustapha.

Then there is Youssef. I can converse with him as he learned English and studied the language at university in Meknes. He has become a teacher and is working in a remote mountainside school near to Imilchil. I think this will be his third year of teaching. He also lived, for a time, at 73.

Hassan is the son who did not go to university. I am not sure what he does for a living.

Finally there is Ammar's sister Rkia. She is closest in age to him and we chat to her more than to the others as she has quite a good internet connection via her sons.

We just missed the wedding of Rkia's older daughter Khadija. She was married not long after Ramadan. but as we wanted to be in Morocco for the sheep day then it was not convenient to go to her wedding. Khadija has married a soldier called Idris and has moved away from Erfoud and is living somewhere further north. We hope to see her when sheep day comes. Khadija speaks English but she had to give up her studies to help her mum at home.

Rkia has a step-son Ibrahim. Then she has three of her own sons and another daughter. The sons are Ammar and Hassan. Ammar is working for his father in the fossil business and Hassan is working with tourism I think - but I'm not sure.

The two youngest children are Asma and Mohammed. They are still at school where they are learning English.I hope to be able to converse with them when they get a grip of the language. 

So there are a lot of people to visit. Hopefully a lot of them will come back to Merzouga for the sheep day.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Well things have moved along since I last wrote on here.

Ammar has been here for almost two years now but as yet has not succeeded in finding permanent employment. However he has begun an ESOL course. That means English for Speakers of Other Languages. He is doing very well and has been moved to a higher level and may go to an even higher one soon.

We went to London twice to register with the Moroccan Embassy. First we went to the wrong place. Then when we found it we discovered that we needed two pieces of documentation so that's why we had to go there twice.

Soon we will have to renew the visa. Before this I have to renew my passport, which ran out in August. I need to get some photos done first.

We haven't been to Morocco this year but we did go last year. We went to Marrakech as usual and then to the Marana Riad. This time we hired a 4x4 and the driver took us to Zagora the following day and then to Tafraoute to see Ammar's sister Fatima and the family there. It was great being in the 4x4, which was a Toyota I think.

When we got to Merzouga the driver took us round the back of the dunes, which is something I've wanted to do for ages.

Can't remember how long we stayed in Merzouga, but we were there for the Eid (the Sheep Day) and for the Date Festival at Erfoud.

After we hired the 4x4 again and decided to go to the more famous Tafraoute - a new place for us. It took quite a while to get there. There was a relative of Rkia living there, one of her nephews, who had been in Merzouga during Eid. We didn't stay with him but had a meal cooked by his wife. We stayed for one night in a small hotel.

Tafraoute was an interesting place. They make shoes there and we got a pair each. I also got a nice green throw, which is on the sofa now.

Not far from the town are some rocks that have been painted blue. We spent quite a time finding them. And then we spent more time getting back to the road.

Rkia's nephew Said, told us about another gorge (a bit like the Todra Gorge), south of Tafraoute. I have forgotten the name but the drive there was fantastic, through the Atlas mountains. The gorge was lovely and not at all touristy.

I wanted to go to Tiznit to see the jewellery there but we didn't have much time there as we were heading for the family in Ait Meloul. and I also wanted to go to the cats and dogs beach. So it was a bit of a rush. I got some authentic old beads in Tiznit but they were quite expensive. I have since made a necklace with them.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Visa News

Not easy to do this blog resting the keyboard on my lap.

Anyway, its good news, Ammar is collecting his visa at 2 today from Rabat. I emailed the visa manager asking if they could fast track his application. A couple of days later he rang me and said that A. could have the visa and then he asked me a few questions.

I have booked his flight with Ryanair for Saturday from Marrackech to Bristol. I have also booked a night at the Ibis for him. On Sunday P and T are going to collect him from Gloucester railway station and bring him here. So the countdown begins.

All that running around Rabat was worth it. The last hurdle is to get the boarding card - which has to be printed from the Ryanair website. So we'll do that today.

Haven't yet got round to putting new photos onto the new pages.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Back home

Not a lot I can do with a broken leg but I can do my blog, which I neglected to do much of in Morocco.

A lot of the time was spent getting documents ready for the visa application. Finally we went to Rabat. We took the bus from Merzouga to Meknes and then the train to Rabat. I met a nice little bissy at the station with huge whiskers. It canme onto my lap and was very happy there and having that moggy made the time pass and was a lovely way to spend the time.

Once in Rabat we tramped round finding a cheap hotel - using the Rough Guide to help us. We settled on the Hotel Galulois. It was fine and the next day we set out to get the marriage document translated. Stupidly we went for the one that's near to one of the official places. It has an advertising board outside and has touts too to bring in business. Try to hide your documents round there. Anyway I was charged 410 dirhams for a both job - we found no end of mistakes - particularly in our names. Then we had to go to another place to get it stamped and there the said that the translation place hadn't signed the dsocument. So I looked at it again and found another mistake, we Ammar did - it said that we had married in 2010. They changed that and there were still mistakes. Anyway they rectified them and then we returned to the government office and got it stamped and signed. We then went to another government place for another stamp. No queue but when the woman looked at the original document she told A,mmar that we had to go back to Er Rachidia to the court to get it stamped and signed by the court president. So back on the train to Meknes and a visit to Youssef's place to while away the time until the coach at 9.30 p.m. Then we met up with Mustapha and Ahmed (former students) and they chatted to us with Youssef and Idir.

Back to Merzouga and the next day to Er Rachidia to the court. It was simple, not a lot of waiting round. We spent the est of the time at the home of Ibrahim, one of Ammar's cousins. There was a wedding going on outside and we were able to see some ahidous - young men standing round the grooms with tambouirs. The grooms were getting hennaed and clothed in the wedding clothes. They wore the same clothes as at a Merzouga wedding but in a slightly different way. I wasn't allowed to take photos but I can remember. The red cloth was put around the forehead and not covering the face, as in Merzouga.The grooms also had tassels a bit like Merzouga brides. Didn't get to see the brides but apparently they don't wear tassels and their veils are longer. This tradition is from the area of a town between Rissani and Tazzaine - Alnif I think.  The tent wasn't a traditional camel hair one but a plastic white one, fully enclosed.

The bus took us back to Meknes and we caught the train again to Rabat. Actually I think it was on this trip that I met the whiskery cat as on the last trip there were people that Ammar knew at the station.

Decided to stay in another hotel - Hotel Berlin. Got the marriage document translated in another place and the woman was fantastic. She charged less and was not stroppy when we pointed out a couple of errors. Back to the first stamping place, then the second place, all went well, and then to the third stamping place. A great queue was outside, one of men and one of women. We were called eventually and given a ticket with a number. Then we sat downstairs until we were all called upstairs. Ammar went to get the document stamped and signed. That being done the next task was to get a photocopy of it.

Finally Ammar had to get a new photo and where it was done the man was very nice and chatty. He even gave us a large copy of the photo for nothing.

Our next task was to do something for one of Ammar's brothers. We went to the address given but they had moved premises. After lunch we took a taxi miles and miles to the new premises of the pension department of the government. A super bouilding but we werer going to have to wait for hours to get to see someone. We waited an hour but nothing was coming our way so we gave up.

Friday 22nd October was the day for Ammar to give in the documents we had collected and to get a biometric photo and fingerprints done.  Early in the morning I went to the toilet and on my way out I stepped down to the floor of the room and slipped on a shiny tile that had water on it. I went down with a bang and knew at once that I had broken my leg.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


Yesterday we went to the Ksar Bicha in Merzouga to see Ammar's niece. She was in the house with a circle of female relatives who were sitting around a mound of dates. They were cutting or picking out the end of the stalk and throwing thedates into palm baskets. When the baskets were full the dates were poured into a blue plastic bag. K. told me that they had already filled twenty baskets.

I decided to join in and just used my left thumb to gouge out the stalks. Not good for the nail.I was refreshed by some tea and gateau - small homemade biscuits.

Last weekend we were in Erfoud to see the International Date Festival. The main tents were just outside the town so we walked there through sand and stones. It is amazing what can be done with the palm tree. Jam is made from the dates and a juice is boiled out of them which is called tahlaoute. I have tasted it with ta'am - a sort of big cous cous boiled like porridge.Another important part of the tree is the leaf.  Many useful household things are made from them. In the past the trunks of the palm were used in the constuction of ceilings in kasbahs. At the exhibition we saw how the irrigation canals were used and small bridges over the canals were made from slabs of palm trunk.

On our way back to Merzouga we visited the centre of Erfoud to see a small exhibition of local crafts.It was there that I tripped and fell, luckily onto a carpet. I hadn't fallen for a while so it was a bit of a shock. I was glad to get home.

Ammar has filled in the visa application form and his interview is booked. We made lots of photocopies and still have a few more to do. The main thing left to do is to translate our marriage document. And of course to get the application fee from the bank.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Had a hard time getting into this blog. But all is fine now.

My combi boiler has crashed. A man will be here to fix it today - so the insurance people say. No hot water and no heating. So more duvets. It will need to be fixed for P. to use. The man was supposed to be here by 11 and now its just past that time. Hey ho, these things are sent to try us.

Anyway back to Morocco. Ammar is setting off from Rissani on the long way round trip via Beni Melal. He will be at Marrackech just about 6.30 a.m. We decided it would be a good idea for him to go to the Ibis for a rest so I booked it for just one night. He will be able to stay there from 12.00 noon and have a rest and a shower and then come and fetch me in the early evening from the airport.

I would like to stay at the Marana again but this time we need to catch the early Supratour bus to Merzouga  and it goes from near the railway station and the Ibis is also near to the station. So we will go to the Marana on the way back.

Ammar told me yesterday about one of his nieces being pregnant. That is three babies on the way now and two of the mothers are his nieces and the other one is his nephew's wife. I hope one of them is born when I am in Morocco.

Ammar has nieces and nephews in 6 families. Well not exactly correct as one sister has 5 sons and is daughterless. But now two of her sons are married and so she has help at home at last.

I am knitting another hat in my spare Moroccan wool. Its a stripy number in green, blue and red. I have a lot of red but have now run out of green and only have a bit of blue left. There are some great hats on the net to knit. And I learned to do the ladder stitch to sew up knitting. I watched it on a youtube video.Youtube is a great resource for learning. I will definitely have a good look when I return.

So I am just going to ring about the boiler man. Well that's great, they weren't even coming out today. So I have arranged for them to come here on Saturday and P will have to deal with the man. So now to email him about it.

The more you rely on these inventions the more you will have to deal with the difficulties they present.

I will have to empty the airing cupboard. Oh joy!

Saturday, 11 September 2010


I have just done a preview and couldn't get back to this page. Also I forgot to save my blog.

So here I go again. Next Saturday I am flying out from Bristol with Ryanair, as usual for my 12th trip to Morocco. The plane lands at Marrakech, where I will be met by my lovely Ammar. We will probably stay at the Ibis there as it is near to the place where we have to catch the Supratour bus to Merzouga. The bus goes all the way there now so we don't have to break at Ourzazate and stay overnight. So Supratours now have two routes to Merzouga.,the other one is from Fes.

I will be travelling down by train on Friday - buying two tickets to make the journey cheaper. I expect I could do the journey on Saturday as the plane leaves in the afternoon but I would rather take it easy and stay overnight at the Ibis near Temple Meads Station.Maybe I could even find some charity shops to visit in the afternoon.

Ramadan is over now so Ammar is back to his usual self. I don't know how he manages to do it. I really admire muslims for taking it on. He sent me a lovely photo of Ayman, who is now lying on his back and chewing on melon rinds - his teeth must be on the way. I have been at home since February and so he is about 7 months now.
It would have been nice to have more photos of the kids but skype was sending files so slowly. The kids were all dressed up for Eid and Hamid wore a turban.

I am also getting excited about seeing Tricky and her new kittens. They were born after I left. I hope they are still there when I get there. My darling little Shrad died and I was very upset, but I have some photos of her and some nice memories, especially of her following us home and sleeping in the cardboard box Ammar put out for her. And jumping at the bees and eating them. And climbing up onto my shoulder.

My suitcase is almost packed. Just got to put some trousers in and maybe another top. I hope I am within the weight limit of 15kg. I am taking a smaller backpack so can't take so much in it. I left the larger one with Ammar.

Today I ironed and one of the things was a length of cloth that I will get another caftan and trousers made from. Its light yellow with green and red stars. It's cotton so I have washed it so that it will shrink before it's made up into garments.

On this visit I want to go to Chefchoaen - I hope I have spelled that correctly. I must look for a suitable place to stay on the net. I hope there are cheap riads.

Another thing I want to see is my black shawl, which is going around the family to be embroidered by the womenfolk. It will be unique.

I will be doing knitting - this time its hats not scarves. Last time I noticed that a stall in Rissani sells yarn already wound into balls. When I decided to take up knitting scarves I could only find wool in skeins and Rkia and Zohra helped me to wind the wool. I still have some and I have already knitted three hats from it.