Then we went to Ait Ben Haddou, the oldest ksar (fortified village) in the world. It was constructed in the 11th centry – and still remains a great example of South Moroccan architecture. There were seven Berber families living in the ksar. Thankfully, UNESCO recognized the need for someone to renovate and protect the ksar, and they’re helping the families move back in (actually because of our Nancéens Jacques Majorelle’s paintings!).
UNESCO also set up a water irrigation system – before the families used to have to travel 12 kilmoeters by donkey to get water. They also started renovating some of the infrastructure. The houses are made by lime, clay, and straw; this keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We saw a man making bricks the same way, and letting them lay out to dry in the hot sun.
We then got to visit a berber families’ house. Berbers are the native people to Morocco – before the Arabs invaded. Mostly in the region where we were, we met nomadic berbers. This family was fully equipped – t.v., stove, lots of kettles for tea. We also saw their animals; yet another up-close encounter with a cow.
This was one of my favorite excursions in Morocco; it was definitely a site like I’d never seen before. What are some of your favorite visits?