Rock the Kasbah

On Saturday we left Essaouira behind, and headed for the mountains. Our guide Omar is, fortunately, an expert behind the wheel. Most of the trip consisted of hairpin turns through the High Atlas Mountains, reaching an elevation of 2260 – 3200 meters.
We passed many damaged buildings and washed-out roads, due to heavy rains. Because the buildings are made of adobe, a heavy rainfall is very problematic.
After a couple hours’ drive on decent roads, we veered off onto the caravan road that led to all the kasbahs, rest stops for travelers. Again, many were in ruins. Some were still occupied by the original families, and others were being restored or had already been renovated for tourists to stay in.
Who could resist the chance to stay in a kasbah? Not us! Kasbah Tebi had been in the family for centuries, before being inherited by the current owners, two brothers. They began its restoration in 2008, when their parents finally had had enough of the damage constantly inflicted by the rains. The two brothers worked on the kasbah for three years, and then opened as a guest house.
Kasbah Tebi is absolutely charming, and we were transported to another time entirely. There is quite modern indoor plumbing in all the rooms, and the building is wired for electricity. However, electricity has not yet reached the area. It was incredibly romantic to dine by candlelight. All the walls had niches for candles, and the stairs were lined with them as well. The steps themselves were very irregular, and some of them were knee high. That was a bit of a challenge.
Our gracious hosts lugged our bags up the long flights of stairs, and then served us mint tea in our room while we rested a bit before dinner. After an hour or so, the smell of the beef tagine drew us to the dining room. Delicious. Before going to sleep, we climbed up to the roof to admire the stars. Because there is no light pollution, the display was dazzling. The cold soon drove us back inside, however – it was zero degrees C.
Our large room was heated with a propane heater, but we were cautioned against sleeping with it on all night. So, after the place was toasty, we piled on the blankets, popped into our long johns, switched off the heater, and hunkered down for the night.
In the morning, neither one of us was brave enough to shower in an unheated bathroom. We piled on the layers and found our way to the kitchen for some wonderful piping hot coffee, freshly made crepes, and delicious bread. It is not possible to remain gluten free in Morocco!
Before leaving town, Omar led us up up up for beautiful views. The best discovery, though, was the sighting of the stork, which just today returned to its nest from its southern migration. We felt honored.

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