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Todra Gorge and Ksar of Ait-Ben-Addou

Ait-Ben-Addou

What an adventure I’m having! I love ogling maps and wishing they could transform into a viewfinder so I could SEE what’s there. This week I feel like I’ve jumped into the map of Morocco and watched with fascination as it unfolds before my eyes.

The Todra Gorge is carved into the earth near Tinghur, in the Atlas Mountains. Morocco suffered the loss of 250,000-350,000 Jews when Israel was founded. Tinghur is one of the communities that experienced a significant loss when Jews responded to the Zionist movement. The homes they left are melancholic tributes to their place in Moroccan history.

The following day we traveled along the camel caravan route to the ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou. A ksar is a fortified village, also referred to as a casbah. This ksar is a UNESCO world heritage site that exemplifies earthen construction techniques in Moroccan architecture.

Ait-Ben-Haddou also has a women’s cooperative that weaves rugs. As we were walking to the co-op, these women stopped us to say they were thanking God we were there! When Mohammed greeted Naomi, one of the weavers, he said “Naomi, you’ve become skinny!” –which is not a good thing for a Berber woman. She sighed and said sadly “Corona.” She hadn’t been sick with Corona, in fact the rural Berber communities were relatively unaffected, but the devastating impact on their income must been stressful.

THE RUGS. So many. Such scrumptious colors. Traditional patterns that mean something to these woman who pour their heart and soul into their craft. The rugs are made from sheep and lambs wool. The ladies card the wool and skillfully twist it into yarn. And dye the yarn with natural elements–indigo, cabbage, saffron, walnuts, henna. Then they weave these yarns into something that will outlast them. Sometimes they spend over two years producing an homage to their existence!

It was satisfying to watch as they splayed rugs on every available inch of floor space. It’s interesting to watch how each person is drawn to certain colors or patterns. I had no intention of buying a rug, but during our visit I kept admiring a stunning coral rug. It displays a variety of symbols with meanings such as fertility, protection of family, union, and good luck. Naomi told me her Aunt Eisha had woven this rug and it had taken her over a year. The unique color was made by combining henna with the skins of pomegranate.

The next morning before we left, I returned to the co-op and purchased the rug. I feel like I’ve obtained a treasured piece of Moroccan heritage. And happy that I’ve supported these lovely women. I hugged Naomi before I left, and as I turned away I heard her softly whisper “I love her.”

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