Glorija and Giacomo from Altripiani have been on the road for a while now, racking up adventures across some of the world's most awesome outdoor regions. And wearing their ioMerino along the way, of course! Here they check in from their latest adventure where they had one of their more unusual invitations... but in true Altripiani style, accepted with their usual enthusiasm.
Flying to Marrakesh has now become easy and quite cheap. When you book your flight, you may even be lucky enough to find a direct one, otherwise there's a stopover in Casablanca for few hours. You can immediately distinguish those who have chosen the charming town with the explosion of colours of the souk, and the great historic Medina as arrival, and those to whom it is only a starting point for a new adventure.
An organised backpack, hiking boots and a small carry-on baggage with the essentials are some of the basic elements. We found that ioMerino thermals are really light weight and easy to pack.
We had just found the right place to pitch the tent, a decision that sometimes can seem trivial, but is always important at the end of the day. It seemed perfect that piece of dark un-cultivated terrain about 8 km from Argana, when suddenly a man going home with his donkey, beckoned us to follow him. No words, just a few gestures.
There’s always little time to make decisions in an Altripiani journey, so we decided, without hesitation, to put our backpacks on and follow the man.
It took another hour’s walk before reaching the village. A constant up and down path in the light of the dusk, punctuated by the rhythm given by the donkey’s hooves. Mhtar, without losing his heart, has been urging his donkey to move forward – saying “Sir, sir!” (“Go on!”, in Berber language) – for the whole time. He offers me to put my backpack on the animal’s back, but I refuse immediately, thanking him promptly but believing the load he’s carrying is already more than enough.
At his home we are welcomed by his wife Naima and their last daughter still at home Khadija. At first she is surprised, but then amused by the sudden news, and opens up a room which will be ours for the night. A beautiful house, clean and tidy – we will understand later, by seeing others during the journey, that they are a wealthy family and this is why they have such a nice home.
Despite the relative basic architectural simplicity (four long rectangular rooms which form a square with a courtyard), each Berber construction is unique. The Berber houses have the inclination to mimicry in common, to the point that it is sometimes difficult to see them from afar. The landscape that surrounds them, in fact, makes them completely camouflaged. In this house the element that attracts us the most is surely the orange tree placed in the courtyard, the tree of life that provides very good, large and juicy oranges.
We make a sort of aperitif on a small round and low table with tea and homemade treats. Afterwards we have dinner with honey, Argana oil, butter and bread, a real banquet in our honor. When we think it’s over, there it is the inevitable tajine served in one dish shared by all the guests and consumed without the use of cutlery.
We begin to learn the technique for eating the tajine as a real Moroccan, forgetting about forks and knives.
After dinner, we all lay down on straw mats in the courtyard of the house, and enjoy the evening breeze after a long, hot day. We barely understand each other and conversation is really hard to establish, but it is between a laugh and the other that Khadija, about thirty years old (Berber people do not give importance to age) gives me a bracelet; I think this means we just became friends!
In the morning a crazy light illuminates the fields in a bright green, which detaches from all that red-ocher-brown colours. During breakfast, Khadija bashfully asks me if we can send her the pictures of our meeting, so I insist to make her write her home address on my notebook, but both she and her mother seem to disagree. That confuses me quite a lot so I assume they didn’t understand what I asked them to do, therefore I try to explain myself better. Still nothing to do. In this way, I was astonished to discover that they are both illiterate. Among all of the assumptions I have made, this was the most remote one. However, their illiteracy didn’t have any influence on the pleasant time we spent together and when it’s time to continue on our way, we are all really sorry to say 'goodbye'. Before we leave, the whole family proudly shows us their third house under construction, the donkey, two sheep, a cow, and some rabbits.
Mhtar is a good father and he knows he made a gift to us, but also and especially to his daughter, who has spent a lovely evening in the company of new young friends. We say goodbye to the women and the neighbours, while Mhtar takes us to show us to the right direction. The view is breathtaking, the colours are bright, and the already warm light of the morning makes everything sweeter.
We are happy and refreshed, ready to curiously walk towards new horizons.
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