I could only take a glimpse of Morocco this time, and returning home I soon realized that with this trip a new chapter has started, and even if I wanted I could not go back to my ‘pre-Morocco’ life. New projects launched, new goals set and future visits are planned to the country. As a final post for the year, I will let the photos speak for themselves.
Happy New Year to All, thank you for reading me in 2017 too.
Many of us here in Europe misinterpret the desert and its people. We tend to think that the desert people are literally able to wring water from a flint. Bad news is that although they are magical, they are certainly not magicians. They are great at finding water resources and they economize these sources, making sure that their children would not be left without water either. However, various historical events, political and economic interests, together with the effects of climate change resulted in a situation when it is a daily struggle now to find and access water. Water for people, animals, and plants.
On my trip in Morocco I was introduced to many died palmeries, that not too long ago provided livelihood for families and whole communities. There is nothing in their places now but sand. One other misconception about the desert people is that we might think they love sand to the extent that they do not need anything else to live a full life. They need groundwater, rain, and arable land, just to mention the basics. But the desert is gradually seizing lands that were once fertile and cultivated. At certain areas the building of dams caused the desertification of valleys and villages. Even the famous and once rich Draa River valley looked empty and unearthly. Moving to an other place is not always an option. People struggle to provide for themselves and hope for the best. I had a few interesting conversations with those I met along the way. One of them sounded something like this:
Q.: “What happens if people cannot work on the fields anymore?”
A.: “Then someone in the family, the children go the city and try to find some job.”
Q.: “And what if they don’t find any job?”
A.: “Then everyone is in sh.. .” – came the quite straightforward answer.
Despite all the difficulties, people in Morocco do not seem to give up. They work tirelessly on the fields, they refuse to give in to their situation. And here I would like to share again the campaign run by Lets Go 2 Morocco, that aims to help one of the locals and his community in accessing ground water. Please take a look at the Water is Life campaign, and consider donating.
It’s crazy busy, colourful, noisy, and still, it feels safe to be there. Even for me, a first time visitor. From the airport it is a short taxi drive to the central Jemaa el Fna, the square where everything exciting takes place. My accommodation for the first night was booked in a hostel off the square, so I could enjoy all a Marrakech night can offer for a tourist. I tried one of the restaurants on the side of the square and while waiting for my food I watched people from all corner of the world immersing themselves in this special atmosphere.
I went without a guide book, mostly because in the last few years I have realized that a guide book only restricts you. If you are aware of the amount of sights you are obliged to see as a tourist, then you will arrive home exhausted, without feeling the place and space where you were supposed to rest and relax. And I didn’t have much time in Marrakech anyway, because the next day we moved on to the next stop of our journey.
But before that we paid a visit to a special place, where most of West Africa was gathered in a couple of shop. By most of West Africa I mean arts and crafts of West African people and their cultures. I was shocked, to say the least. When you know the background of these objects, and you know the price of what these cultures have paid on the altar of the so called development and international trade, what is the cause of these pieces being gathered on this market now, that is heart breaking. Of course, they are beautiful and wonderful to look at. Even if most of them cannot be considered as traditional or authentic, that is made solely for trade, the amount of information these objects emit is just overwhelming. Even if you don’t know much about their origin, you might feel that they belong to somewhere else, and that they deserve more than being piled up in an antique shop.
How often do you open the tap and leave the water running for minutes just because you want it colder or warmer? Do you pay attention to flushing the toilet only with the necessary amount of water? Have you thrown away plastic bottles still half-full of water? Do you take a bath or have a shower daily? These and many more everyday situations provide opportunities to save water and money on your bills. However, too many parts of the world do not enjoy this luxury of choices. For they have access to water in limited quantities for limited periods. And before we see it live or experience water shortage for an extended period of time ourselves, we will probably never really take these things seriously. We tend to believe that this issue does not affect us. It does and it is very close to all of us.
And because I am still writing about Morocco, I would like to share a beautiful fundraising campaign, one of our tour guides launched recently. The Water is Life campaign aims to help Idir, a wonderful man I met along the trip, to maintain his vegetable garden in the long run. The help he receives will be shared with the whole community, for he considers teaching traditional farming methods to young people essential.
“Sometimes, people need a helping hand to succeed in difficult circumstances. Idir is literally caught between a rock and a hard place. He needs a rock breaker to access the precious life giving water in his well. He has dug his well by hand and is getting around 30 minutes of water a day to water his organic garden, but he has hit rock and really needs help to reach the deeper groundwater. His hope is once he has got his garden growing well, he will be able to teach young people in his village the ways of farming successfully in the harsh environment that he lives in the Sahara Desert village of Regabi near Mhamid el Ghizlane. He inherited this garden from his father. 40 years ago the Draa River had enough water to support life in this valley, since the dam was built, there is less and less. Now the groundwater is much harder to reach. The only way for desert dwellers to survive is with a well. I have seen Idir struggle over the last three years and he has done as much as he can, he cannot get enough water to make his garden produce enough food to feed his family…. With your donation, they can have enough water to feed themselves and be able to teach others to do the same.” Karima Rebecca Powell
Take a look at the photos I took in Idir’s garden, and imagine how difficult it is to grow anything here without having access to adequate quantity of water in the Saharan heat. And imagine what it means that this is all he needs to provide for his family and share his knowledge with future generations.
Consider sharing the campaign with your network. More details here: Water is Life
Dreams do come true… I might have been 17 when I first set an eye on the African continent. I read every writing about it that I could get my hands on, and in the course of time I even got a degree in African Studies. I had teachers, friends, and more from various parts of Africa, I tried many ways to study or work there, but somehow that desired trip never happened. And I am talking about nearly 20 years of longing. That is over now.
A couple of months ago a friend I have never met in person before, extremely nobly offered an opportunity I said yes to without thinking. It means that in roughly 2 weeks I am going to board that long awaited flight to Africa, and the destination is the Sahara desert.
I will tell you more once I am back with hundreds of photos and adventures… till then, you too dream on!