Once again the streets of Morocco were deserted as our bus headed out of the city this morning. And wonders of wonders all traces of sheep on the streets had disappeared! In towns that we passed though people could be seen carting their dressed sheep to the local butcher, or waiting patiently at his stand while their meat was chopped up for them.
Our group is beset with tummy woes at the moment and we are scrambling to identify likely suspects. Today our money is on the watermelon – we’ve just found out that growers inject them with water to increase their weight, and we’ve seen some of the water sources in this country!! Consequently there’s been much daily anguishing about whether or not affected individuals feel that they can join us or not on our excursions and I suspect that a doctor’s visit may be imminent.
Nabil is currently standing up the front of the bus educating us about Arabic numerals – oh, so simple up to number 9 because each numeric has the number of corners in it that represent the value of that number. If I’ve lost you – number 2 has 2 corners when written down, number 5 has 5 corners. So of course 0 had to have no corners!
He is a mine of information – our days are filled with his snippets of facts. For example, on the previous King’s 50th birthday he gave to his country 50 million trees – making modern Morocco a remarkably green country. The current king doesn’t have all of his money in off shore accounts – he invests in his country. The Costco-like supermarket that we went to a few days ago is one of a chain – owned by the current ruler.
Today we are off to see a cherry button cooperative in Safrou. We were shown cherry buttons yesterday in the grotto – individual buttons are formed around a small hollow tube (formed paper or plastic tubing).
MUCH LATER IN THE DAY:
Yesterday I didn’t think that anything more that we experienced here could trump our grotto experience of yesterday. I was wrong. So wrong.
The button cooperative exists on the ground floor of a private home in Safrou. (https://cherrybuttonscoop.wordpress.com/about/ )
It is a very basic room, although large and spacious, containing various sized looms, a couch lined seating area and a dyeing section. We were all asked to sit around the walls on the couches, with hijab clothed locals sitting amongst us. We were all a little awed – we were inside a Moroccan home, sitting beside Moroccan women!
For once we were on the inside looking out!
We didn’t need Nabil – one of the young women spoke excellent English so she was our translator (and later able to answer the myriad of questions that we posed). We were each given our silk thread, large eyed sewing needle and a decorated drill bit that they’ve re-purposed very cleverly. Our lesson began……their nimble fingers wove and twisted as they showed us the process, then over the next hour patiently helped each of us to make a djellaba button. Unexpectedly, one women in our group at the end of the room removed her hijab (it’s hot here today) and we felt somewhat honoured that she felt that she could do that with us present. Shortly afterwards off came her djellaba and we knew then that they no longer considered us strangers.
This is the button that I made!
What fun we all had fumblingly trying to emulate the dexterity of these amazing women, watching a demonstration of hibiscus flower dyed wool (they use all natural dyeing processes) and examining the loom work and indigo dyed fabrics.
We were invited upstairs into the home for a shared lunch. This trip just keeps getting better and better. What an opportunity. Yesterday we experienced the extremes in Moroccan homes – the humble grotto and the luxurious riad (haven’t told you about that one yet!) and today we shared a meal in the home of an everyday family in Morocco.
The entrance hall was tiled with this beautiful design.
Afterwards our two main hostesses dressed in their hijabs and djellabas and joined us on the bus for the ride down to Safrou’s town centre where the retail outlet for their cooperative is located.
These tiny buttons are used to decorate their djellabas.
The women use these tiny woven buttons to make decorative jewellery and knowing how much work goes into making them, as well as feeling a strong commitment to the cause of local women, let’s just say that they will need to do some major re-stocking in the weeks to come. The little shop burst at the seams with eager Australians while, I suspect, other local artisans looked on in envy.
We drove home mid afternoon, with an excited buzz throughout the bus. I wonder if we can top that experience?!