Visiting the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs in Morocco

Jan 15, 2018 | Cultures | 0 comments

The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.

Shirley MacLaine

In the High Atlas Mountains of central Morocco lies the Vallee des Roses, better known as the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs. The impenetrable hedgerows of wild roses lined the roads with see-through thorny winter brush. Snow-white blossoms of almond trees bandaged square plots of baby green sprigs of wheat. I hired a car to explore.

Oncoming traffic signaled pulling off the road. The marshmallow sand of the road’s shoulders tempted the tires into sinking deep. Great time for some stretching after digging for water. Shiny bottles caught the attention of black spots moving quickly down the hillside opposite the road. Those tiny spots turned into children doubled over with heads low to the ground, carrying stacks of firewood taller than their little bodies.

Three adorable girls about eight years old came rushing toward the car begging for food or water. My camera met their smiles and heavy loads. I thanked them with a few small coins. An older boy ran past out of nowhere grabbing the coins from one of the girl’s hands. She cried while she manipulated the wood off her back to the ground. I made the mistake of opening the car door exposing all kinds of potential gifts to crying little girls. A package of crackers and two water bottles calmed her but a few more coins dried the tears. My arms wanted to engulf the little girl with safety and protect her somehow from her harsh environment.

While the girl drank the water before the bully came back, I lifted the bundle of sticks. I fell down causing hilarious laughter and could not stand up under the weight, let alone carry the load back to the village. Undersized donkeys, with loads double their size, passed the car as my driver coaxed the girls to stand back. Hands reached for a loose bag sitting on the floor. Regretfully, I said no and gently moved the girl back far enough to close the door.

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Jackie Chase

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