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Vagobond with the Berbers

5/1/09

Today was absolutely spectacular. Not tourism, just really good living.

Hanane and I woke up early and met up with our friend Yassine. Then we hiked up into the Atlas from Sefrou.

We passed by a lot of Berber tribes people doing laundry, taking donkeys to town to get supplies, herding sheep and cattle, and just hanging out around their homes.

We reached a small Berber settlement which was the end point of our hike and there were a bunch of young boys herding a big flock of sheep. We were taking their pictures so it was only fair to share the cookies and candy we had brought with us, with them.

A guy slowly walked out to join us and I thought he might scold me for handing out cookies, but no, he wanted to invite us to tea.

We said yes and sat under a fig tree drinking tea, eating delicious homemade cheese, olive oil, and bread. Eating hard boiled turkey eggs, and getting to know our new friends.

Lhassin and Kawtar showed us where they bake bread in a stone oven, where Lahassin’s mother makes beautiful Berber rugs (yes, real Berber), and gave me a gift of a pillow. There was no request for money and if we would have offered, it would certainly of been refused.

After tea the five of us hiked through the beautiful canyons and valleys of the Atlas. We explored water sources and crossed into the territory of the other major Berber tribe in the area, the Ait Hassin. Lhassin, Kawtar and all their neighbors and families are members of the Ihi Najen tribe.

Here is an interesting note, there are lots of people who think the Berbers are the descendants of those who lived on the lost continent of Atlantis and that the Atlas Mountains are actually the Atlantis Mountains. I can believe it.

After a very nice hike, we returned and ate Friday couscous with the Ihi Najen and finally, had to leave to make the hike back to Sefrou. It was difficult to leave, literally, since they wanted us to stay for coffee, and had started baking treats just for us, and offered to let us stay the night, and would have been very happy to have us stay forever. Really, this is what they said.

But we had to get back. We had forgotten to tell Hanane’s family where we were going or that we would be gone all day.

This was a spectacular day and experience. One of the best of my travels.

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Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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