Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Wadi

The river runs round Taroudant and into the Sousse through a wadi. I had read of these of course but not actually seen one until I came to morocco. The sides are vertcal and the bottom flat. most of the time it is entirely dry or has  small abandoned puddles trying to  make a flow but it can change rapidly. After rain maybe twice a year and at the melt-time in the Atlas it becomes a raging torrent. anything in its path would be swept away.

River Wadi Taroudant February when dry

River Wadi Taroudant early morning February

Dry River Wadi Taroudant

Wadi Taroudant after rain

River in Wadi Taroudant

Waadi after rain Taroudant

River in flow Taroudant 1.12.11.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Snakecharmer

In Marrakesh the snakecharmers hassle tourists by throwing snakes on them and demanding money for photographs. In Taroudant it is altogether gentler. He will want money for you to take a photo but the snakes are generally kept in their box and only taken out when the money is paid. However tourists are only a small part of the living. Local people particularly country dwellers gather round on market day and the snakecharmer is entertainment just as the storytellers or musicians. In fact Taroudant has two snakecharmers , one being a woman , although I have only seen both working at the same time on one occasion and haven't yet worked out whether they are competitors or collaborators.

Snakecharmer, Taroudant

Snakecharmer, Taroudant

Snakecharmer, Tatoudant

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Hanging Out

When the King came in January he brought with him the auditors. Taroudant has had a lot of money pumped into the area recently; £150million from UNESCO to rebuild the walls and similar amounts mostly from the state for each of 2 projects; to build a dam for irrigation  and to build a juicing factory for local oranges. As there is not the degree of separation between monarch and state as in Britain the King probably regards this as his money.
According to local folklore he may be very well advised to visit and see his investments for himself as the story is that back in the 80s in the old King's time money was allocated to build the dam. The accountants in Rabat were keen to make sure that all the money was properly spent and not redirected to more personal and less public improvements so they demanded rigorous receipts and accounting. The accounts produced were exemplary and the project was signed off as a development success. It was only sometime later in the 90s when on of the accountants decided to visit and view the dam that it was discovered that on paper it was a fine dam but that was where it remained on paper. At least the King has seen for himself that something is being built this time and doubtless he brought engineers and quantity surveyors with the auditors to check the books.
However the auditors did not confine themselves merely to these projects. Whilst the provincial governor is appointed by the King the town is run by an elected official to whom I shall refer as the mayor a la Boris Johnson although that is not a word the moroccans would use. The auditors also examined the mayoral accounts and deficiencies were found. Whether these were caused by poor accounting, overspend or peccary is a matter of rumour and speculation but there appears to be a consensus that a deficit exists. The mayoralty has been told that the deficit must be made good.
Local officials are now seeking ways to raise money to balance the books. It is a feature of souks that traders hang goods from the rafters of the passages between stalls. They have now been told that there is to be a new tax on this facility and goods projecting more than 30 cm from the front of the shop will attract this tax. Needless to say the proposal is unpopular and appears to affect traders in cloth and garments rather than jewellers or greengrocers and so is meeting some resistance. Whether it will be successfully imposed remains to be seen.
However if additional monies do have to be raised this would explain the transformation of Place Tamaklate. This has always been an empty square (except for the juice stalls and taxi rank) but recently it has sprouted numerous traders , mostly in kitchenware but also clothes, plastcs and cheap jewellry. As this coincided with the hanging out charge we have assumed that it is linked and that the town is trying to raise additional monies from its markets but then we could just have got the wrong end of a rumour through language difficulties

Hanging throws and rugs, the arab souk, Taroudant

Hanging goods, the arab souk, Taroudant

Bags hanging in the arab Souk,Taroudant

Arab Souk Taroudant

Arab Souk Taroudant

Place Tamoklate in the run-up th Eid 2010; the busiest time of year

Place Tamoklate Taroudant 7.3.11

Place Tamoklate Taroudant 7.3.11

Place Tamoklate Taroudant 7.3.11


Monday, 21 March 2011

Bab Taghout again

The building work continues apace at Bab Taghout. We are intrigued as to the progress when we return at Easter. We were delighted to find that the improvements include new steps up to the ramparts so that one will be able to stand on the gate for the view. We also noticed that morocco does not seem to have the same Health and Safety Regulations as Britain.  There was a fairly scary "scaffolding" of a plank stuck into the wall although we photographed it the next day , a friday when no-one was working.

Progress on the rampart access at Bab Taghout Taroudant

New steps at Bab Taghout Taroudant

Scaffold at Bab Taghout Taroudant

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Surrey with a fringe on top

I am becoming obsessive about the caleches. I have blogged them already . Beloved says they are all the same and they are in the generality but vary in the particular. The lamps, decoration, hood linings and for some the pictures on the back. They are more difficult to photograph than one would think as often they are just passing and I can't go too near because of my allergy to horses. I stalk particular caleches over several days or weeks to add to my collection. In fine weather with their hoods down the look like refugees from Oklahoma. (The musical not the state). When you go to Marrakesh the caleches are much swankier with polished brass. These however are used solely as a tourist attraction whereas in Taroudant whilst the drivers certaiinly would like to have tourists the whole time they are mainly used by locals as taxis.

Caleche No 34 Taroudant

Detail of Caleche 34 Taroudant

Caleche 43 Taroudant

Detail Caleche 43 Taroudant

Caleche Taroudant

Caleche 13 Taroudant

Detail Caleche 13 Taroudant
Caleche Taroudant

Caleche Marrakesh

Caleche Marrakesh

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The waterseller

The watersellers are a common place of Djmaa el Faa in Marrakesh where they make their living posing for tourists' photos but Taroudant has its own waterseller. Although he makes most of his living from tourist photos he is used by the locals to buy water from, especially the women who would not go into the teashops.

Waterseller, Place Assareg, Taroudant

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Woman's Place....

For international women's day I had intended to blog a prominent Roudani woman but my research skills weren't up to it so I will write about moroccan women in general instead.
 In 2009 Morocco ranked 124 in the world ranking on gender equality pretty much around the level it had been for the previous decade. This compares with 15 for the UK (which had slipped back from11)and 31 for the USA. (Iceland is the place to be ladies!). North Africa as a region ranks the lowest in the world on gender equality ranking relatively highly on health and education but abysmally low on economic and political participation.
The situation improves for middle class women who access Higher education as their participation and earning ratios are much higher and indeed they are visible in these sort of jobs, banks, pharmicies etc when going about one's business. Indeed professional and technical workers are shown as having gender equality. Similarly their graduate record is good with 25% of engineering graduate being women (the equivalent for the USA is 13%). This is appropriate as the first university in the western world (as opposed to similar bodies in China or India) was founded at Fes in 859 by Fatima Al Fihria.

University of Kharioune, Fes
 Women are noticeably active in manual work as well, it is common in the evening to see pick-up trucks crammed with standing women workers returning from field work and in Agadir we have seen female binpersons -still a no-no in the UK, but the statistics would suggest that for these women their participation is based on their being regarded as cheap labour.
It would also seem likely that these women retire from the labour market on marriage . The mean age of women on marriage in Morocco is 25 and the overall fertility rate is 2.4 and falling. Morocco has fewer teenage pregnancies than the UK and the USA (ranking 42, 55 and 74 respectively). Maternal mortality is 240 per 100,000 live births which places it 99th in world rankings behind its North African neighbours. For those in full employment (most agricultural work will be casual) there is 14 weeks maternity leave on full pay.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Rock The Kasbah

Yesterday was a cooler day than lately, described by the forcasters as "sunny intervals" although in practice this seemed to mean beautiful light kipper clouds. Beloved took the opportunity to cycle round to the Kasbah. This is on the other side of town round by the Palais Salaam hotel and was the original ruling centre of the town. It is now much run down and one of the poorer parts of the town with a higher proportion of unimproved pise homes. It is now getting a makeover as part of the UNESCO scheme. As well as the walls being renovated there is a new "park" being built (I find it difficult to think of a park without trees and plants but it is a public space). The centrepiece is a fountain and yesterday it was up and running.

New fountain outside Taroudant Kasbah

Fountain outside Taroudant Kasbah

Clouds over Taroudant town walls

View of the Atlas from the entrance to Taroudant Kasbah

Bab Larjer entrance to Taroudant Kasbah

Looking out from the gate to Taroudant Kasbah

Taroudant Kasbah

Entering Taroudant Kasbah through the "pedestrian" entrance

"Kipper" skies Taroudant

Friday, 4 March 2011

Friday couscous

Everybody's giving me oranges at the moment. Lassi gave me one after our juice the other day and Moussa gave us several after lunch today. They are huge sweet eating oranges right in season and I will juice them so that we don't have to forgo our juice on Wednesday when we leave for Marrakesh and home.

Today is Friday and families here have their couscous after midday prayers rather like the British Sunday roast. I have always liked couscous and used to bring the caravan home from France full of the tinned couscous royale you can buy there. It is of course non-existant in Morocco.

Beloved is  not so keen on couscous and the standard 7 vegetable couscous is a no-no to him because one of the seven vegetables is traditionally chickpeas and Beloved is not allowed pulses for medical reasons. So instead of cooking we go out. We go to Moussa at the Hotel Roudani in the square and I have my couscous and Beloved has brochettes and chips. This was a great treat for him too until this winter when we brought out a deep fat fryer and he can now indulge in chips whenever he wants. A threecourse meal of moroccan salad starter, bread, couscous, or brochettes and chips, or tajine, and fresh fruit , with mineral water, costs 110MAD for two people. I have seen french people finish with mint tea but as we would not consume anything so sugary I don't know whether they pay extra.

The home dish is somewhat dry and eaten with the fingers rolling the couscous into balls (right hand only). At the restaurant all the elements are served seperately for ease and freshness of preparation and I eat mine much more brothy than is standard. I also like quite large amounts of hot Harissa sauce.

Couscous itself is a sort of semolina rolled in durum flour but in the Rif couscous may be made from barley or sorghum and in the south maize or millett. If you go to Aswad Assalam ,the islamist supermarket rival to the more frenchified Marjane, they have a gourmet section 6ft high by 20ft long featuring solely different varieties of couscous.

Here is a link to a recipe for 7 vegetable couscous but just as there are as many rash el hanuts as shops there are as many definitive recipes as mothers.


Hotel Roudani Taroudant

7 vegetable couscous