Kasba Tadla and our new friends

Trip Start Sep 16, 2006
Trip End Sep 16, 2007

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Saturday, December 16, 2006

The ride from Afourer to Kasba Tadla took us past more olive groves, plastic roadside tarp shelters, and lots of carrot farms. We passed through Beni Mellal- a great modern city with wide streets and a 'downtown' resembling the US midwest from the 70's. A pretty neat place where we stopped for fresh fruit smoothies and sat in a cafe being strared at awkwardly by two women and their small kids, begging silently and scoping out our bikes for things to snatch. An awkward and sad experience; pinching their babies in order to make them scream and cry to generate sympathy and get money from us. It was really awful and sad.
Another time where you are reminded of the differences between those who have, and those who have not- and feel deeply guilty.
Kasba Tadla is a busy, dusty, modern, French military post village-town. We stayed for 2 days at a really neato, inexpensive hotel above a really busy, all-men's coffe shop/card game hall which was really popular and dated back to the 40's with a reputation for the best coffee in town.
We became celebrities in Kasba Tadla! Instant Czech/US embassadors at a small cyber cafe where we were doing research, and made friends with the guy working there. Illias was young, and busy studying Computer Information Systems in a university in Beni Melal. He was really excited to meet us and told us all about his town and the history of the region. His mom even brough cookies and made fresh mint tea and brought them down to us.
Later that night she insisted that he walk us home to the motel, and upon saying good bye- Illias handed us a small wooden camel, our good luck gift for the road. Very sweet!! Times like this negate the penible experiences of the roadside menfolk.
The next day, we stopped in the cybernet to say hi and finish researching, and were invited for a 'quick' coffe and tea at his family's home, an offer that is not OK to refuse. Well, about 4 or 5 hours later and full of delicious home-made breads, veggie tajine stew and many cups of mint tea-- we returned to our hotel. Illias' entire and distant family came by that night to shake our hands and say hello and chat with us, sharing family photos and stories from the past. Ilias' mom gave us head scarves and gifts for the road. His uncle, an ex-pro-soccer player and coach and his wife, a family rights advocate and teacher, all hung out. The grandmother, who has the face tattoos of the Berber people, talked about growing up and peered at us through the world's thickest lenses. We huddled in their home in thick warm blankets, and learned that before his death, Iliias' father worked very hard as a teacher to save money and build their 3 story house in Kasba Tadla. What a night!! We returned to the hotel mentally spinning and thinking about how open and giving our friends were to us...
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