The tour that we are on is the first of its kind and was developed as a joint effort between our tour leader, Lisa Walton, and the Monarch tour group, who were responsible for researching many of the places that we’ve visited.
Our tour guide, Nabil, has been a tour guide for over 20 years and he is excellent at what he does. He is extremely concerned about our safety and well being and will always hire additional guides in large crowd situations where he believes we are safest having someone at the front and back of the group and someone moving throughout the group. Apparently Polish pick pockets are the best in the world, but Moroccans are pretty good at it too! Having said that I have to say that for the most part Morocco is a very family focused and friendly place. The street peddlers are a tolerable nuisance and we’re now pretty good at managing them.
Because this tour concept is new, many of the places that we’ve visited are new to Nabil too. Apart from moments of likely boredom when we’ve spent extended time with Moroccan women, I suspect that he’s really enjoyed his time with us. The women’s cooperative that we visited the other day has previously hosted tour groups and had someone on site who could translate for us which left him free to come and go and this is often what happens (on one occasion he was tasked with locating 10 packets of Imodium!).
However, the artisans cooperative that we visited today was not only new to Nabil, but there was no translator on site. He apologised numerous times for his lack of knowledge with regard to embroidery related matters but once we got there he did a fantastic job of bridging the language barrier.
The Art Tissage Tam artisans’ cooperative in Tameslouht supports around 60 families in this small community 30 kilometres out of Marrakech with some working within and around the cooperative and others working from their homes. They proudly boast that their clients include some French fashion houses.
It was a very hot day, but we were able to relax in the semi-covered courtyard and watch talented locals embroider, make baskets and fringe edges of shawls.
Can you see the djellaba buttons?
We all spent time browsing the onsite shop – total eye candy!
Visits to nearby buildings allowed us to see first hand the weaving work of the local menfolk. One even asked me to (most unbecomingly!) crawl under his loom and try my hand at weaving.
These guys work in pretty cramped and primitive conditions.
Meanwhile another group of women prepared us a delicious lunch which was much enjoyed. Our knowledge of salads and tagine cooked meals increases daily, needless to say.
As we departed they insisted on a group photo then they presented each of us with an exquisitely woven and fringed table mat.
Til next time….