So back to Bob, I mean Alastair. He told Linda and I a crazy story of arriving in the Medina and being locked out of his hotel for at least an hour. When they finally let him in, they told him it was not safe to travel in the Medina by himself. As a grown man he thought that quite odd so he was relegated to sneaking out of his luxury hotel to see the sights of Marrakech. He escaped to our resort to use the pool and found that they had a vacancy and come back to stay. He had prepaid the hotel in town so once they realized Alastair was gone, they began a search to find him. For the next 24 hours, he was stalked by this hotel who ultimately did not want a bad review on Trip Advisor….I guess safety was not the primary concern.
As the next morning dawned, we had the most amazing class in Couscous from our lovely chef Bahija. We used a barley spirulina, which was fragrant and rich in color and flavor. We learned to steam it properly and had a traditional Friday meal since they do not eat meat on the holy day of Friday. After tasting this couscous, it will be hard to go back to what I find in Vons.
That afternoon, Linda and I took part in a cultural ritual call the Hammam. In every corner of town they have 4 things; a public water source, a public fire, a mosque and a Hammam. Every morning the young women would go get the water and drop their family bread off for cooking. Once a week every member of the family would go to the Hammam for esentailly a weekly bath. It has no evolved to a spa luxury as most homes have indoor plumbing. Linda and I changed into robes and were bought into a bath house. We were washed with black soap, scrubbed with a loofa type mit from head to toe and had a clay mask on our bodies, faces and hair that left our skin so soft. It was such a luxury to have someone bathe me, scrub me and make me feel fresh and renewed. We are determined to find a Hammam in Los Angeles.
That night as we were relaxing for our cocktail hour we met a couple from Ireland, Patrick and Madeline Murray. Maybe they were distant relatives?? But just as we were getting to know them, Debbie noticed Alastair sitting alone. I went over and invited him to meet the group and we had the most lively and fun cocktail hour and dinner with our new friends!! It was a magical and unexpected evening in Morrocco.
The next morning we headed off for our adventure in the Atlas Mountains. We were going to stay in a Kasbah at the base of the tallest mountain in Morocco, Mt. Toubkal just under 13,000 feet. We first stopped in a beautiful botanical garden where we learned about so many of the herb that we are familiar with. Our first lesson was in the making of the Berber bread. We each had a pillow and plate and we each learned to bake bread as generations of Berber women have done every morning for centuries. It was amazing to see this Berber woman put each of our loaves in the oven and in 10 short minutes we all were eating our own bread. After our tour and shopping, we got a lovely foot bath with some sort of aromatic salts….LOVE how these people care for their bodies. Then lunch was squeaked in before the rain started and we headed onto to our next adventure. As we arrived in the town of Imlil, it was eerily quiet. The was really our first indication of how the COVID-19 virus was affecting Morocco. This mountain town would be bustling with activity heading into a weekend but instead, we really had the town to ourselves. As we arrived in town there were mules waiting for us to take us on the last leg of our journey. As we loaded up our small duffle bag and ourselves, we journeyed up about 800 feet of mountain to get to our Kasbah at the top. Kasbah Toubkal was the finest resort in the area short of Richard Branson’s resort just down the road. The claim to fame of out resort is that one year ago Megan and Harry came here to support the Moroccan women’s education initiative called Education for All. They had all sorts of books and photos memorializing the tour. We checked into our little hut with a heated floor and then headed up to the lodge for appetizers and dinner. The next day we were going to visit Aramed and I couldn’t wait.