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Embedded Photos: 1.Our Tower2-3.Around the Kasbah4.Kasbah Amirdil and palmaries 5.Kasbah Amirdil6.Aziz Serving Tea7.Desert Sunset
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Morocco Flag MOROCCO


May 13. BOUMALNE DADES - SKOURA "Meet us at the Kasbah"  We left the hotel for breakfast and found a decent place in Boulmane's small downtown.  A man dressed in a bright blue Tuareg robe approached us eagerly to propose a ride the gorge.  He had people already waiting to leave. Uh huh.  We sat down for breakfast and pondered what to do.  The public transport options in the guidebook referenced sporadic buses to the Dades Gorge towns, mostly tied to the sequential marketSkoura, Morocco days.  At that pace it would take days or even a week to get up and back.  That reality combined with the photos we had seen of the gorge made us reconsider the whole idea.  Without sounding like I am belittling what was certainly a scenic gorge, we had had the benefit of some spectacular desert scenery in Jordan not that long ago and felt that it was better to spend the money on something unique to our experience in Morocco.  We had opted not to see the sand dunes for the same reason.  Having seen more remote dunes in China last year made us less eager to visit Morocco's much more tourist developed area.  We heard good reviews of the gorge and the dunes but, for us, the kasbahs were something really unique to Morocco and not far up the highway was Kasbah Ben Moro Hotel, a renovated 18th century kasbah that had been turned into a hotel.  

After making this decision we hurried back to the hotel to grab our bags before the check-out time had passed.  A bus left for Skoura at 1:30 so we had tea and waited.  Having tea and waiting was truly part of the Moroccan experience, and something that we could always enjoy.  When the rattletrap bus pulled up we threw on our bags and were feeling really good about our decision.  The Kasbah Ben Moro hotel was in our guidebook but where we first learned about it was in a H.I.P. Hotels book that we saw at our bookstore in Athens.  It was more expensive than our usual lodgings but the idea of staying inside a kasbah had a definite romantic appeal.  

Skoura, MoroccoThe hotel was 2km beyond the town of Skoura so we tried to explain to the bus attendant that wanted to get off a little later.  It saved us the hassle of a taxi ride.  The guy was trying to understand but didn't speak any English.  Fortunately a nice man sitting across from us did and he translated.  It was no problem.  When the bus left us standing alongside the dusty road we looked across the street and were disappointed by the sight of the hotel.  It was right along the highway and smaller than expected but looks were deceiving.  Skoura, MoroccoOnce inside we found a cozy and tastefully decorated retreat.  The hotel had been authentically restored save for a few modifications like a layer of plastic reinforcement in the ceiling, smooth plastered walls over the rough mud walls inside the rooms, and, of course, the bathroom facilities and electricity.  We opted for their budget room which had a shared bath but was situated in one of the small turrets at the top of the kasbah.  We felt like captives in a tower.  It was small with tiny windows peeking out towards the desert but warm and inviting.  Electricity was provided via a generator that went off at night so our room was equipped with a small candle lantern.  The man who checked us in brought up a couple of big pillows so we could enjoy sitting on the rooftop outside our room.  The four turrets were connected by a walkway that looked down into a courtyard on the floor below.  We were delighted with the whole setup. 

Skoura, MoroccoAround the back of the hotel they had a lovely garden with day beds lined up under an overhang for relaxing.  The area looked out across a sea of palmaries towards the ruins of two other kasbahs.  Our close proximity to the highway forgotten. We ordered tea and sat to listen to the soft rustle of a bed of wheat that was planted across the garden.  It was so peaceful.  

The largest kasbah that was visible in the sea of palmaries was Kasbah Amirdil, a 17th century kasbah.  A gate at the back of our hotel let us out into the palm grove.  We were told to ask for a man at the kasbah and we could get a tour.  As we set out into the palm trees we were immediately accompanied by a man with a bike who wanted to show us to the kasbah.  We planned to reach the kasbah but just wanted to enjoy the serenity of the palm trees along the way.  We let the man go on ahead but as we got closer to the kasbah a bunch of children came over to sell us camels woven out of palm fronds.  They received too many tourists here not to be savvy.   The kasbah was much larger than Ben Moro and was undergoing restoration but only about half of it was complete.  It stood along a dry riverbed.  A kind man named Aziz, dressed in Berber attire, arrived to give us a tour.  Skoura, MoroccoIt was just the two of us but he showed us all over, giving us details on how the kasbah was built and how the rooms were used.  There was even a good collection of tools and kitchen items.  The ceilings of the kasbah were supported with 14cm of pise (a kind of mud clay), a layer of bamboo and then beams from palm trees.  It was a sturdy construction but when we took heavy steps in the older rooms we could feel the floor vibrate.  The weather caused a kasbah to deteriorate in the course of about 20 years if it wasn't restored.    

At the end of the tour our host treated us to some Moroccan

We received less attention as we headed back to Ben Moro but a couple of people did tell us to go see Kasbah Amridil.  When we told them that we had they were satisfied.  It seemed that the project had community-wide support.  Another kasbah stood closer to Ben Moro but was in such a deteriorated state it was almost unrecognizable.  We returned to our spot on the patio and quietly watched the sun set over the palms.  

Skoura, MoroccoDinner was served in the equally warm and cozy kasbah restaurant.  The hotel was popular and quite a few people turned up a dinner time.  We ate in a small salon off to the side of the dining room and had the company of a nice German man.  It was interesting conversation because he had traveled in Africa extensively, including Madagascar, and had relatives in Namibia.  The meal was delicious.  It started with the French inspired omelet.  I had a chicken and olive tajine while Rob had a beef and prune tajine.  Both were served bubbling hot. For desert there was chocolate mousse.

May 14. SKOURA  We slept well at Ben Moro and were lamenting having to leave the next morning, so we didn't.  Well, we had to confirm that they would take a credit card first and they did.  

Breakfast was included in our lodging and was a relatively hearty take on petite dejeuner with honey lathered Moroccan-style crepes.  We spent the majority of our day just lounging on the day beds, chatting with a young British woman who was staying in the turret opposite ours.  The Spanish man who owned the place was around once in a while.  The story was that he had been born in the kasbah and tired of life in Spain, he returned to restore the kasbah and convert it into a hotel. Skoura, Morocco He lived in a small mud hut for some two years, without any electricity, during the renovation work. 

When the afternoon sun made the patio hot we found a cool spot in the salons off of the dining room.  Dinner was a repeat of the night before but with four choices on the menu we enjoyed different things. 

SPAIN Madrid Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25-26 Mar 27-30 Granada Mar 31 April 1-28 Semana Santa Part I Part II Photos I Photos II Photos III Photos IV The Alhambra Part I Part II Part III Part IV


MOROCCO Chefchaouen April 30 May 1 Fes May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 6 Meknes May 7 May 8 May 9 Sahara May 10-11 May 12 May 13-14 May 15 Marrakesh May 16