Tag Archives: Fez

A New Children’s Library Opens in the Fez Medina

Fez Medina Children's Library

Fez Medina Children’s Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN statistics suggest that average literacy rates in Morocco are as high as 67% (in 2011). However, this figure hides large discrepancies between males and females and between urban and rural populations. Typically, girls in Morocco are less well-educated than boys. Additionally, in rural communities or poorer areas of the medinas, parents may remove children from school at an early age to work or help the family. The Medina Children’s Library in the medieval old city of Fez aims to support children’s learning and make it fun.

Co-founder of the library, author Suzanna Clarke, says: “Houses I have visited in the Medina rarely have books beyond the Koran, and certainly none for children. Lots of children don’t continue their education past primary school and are expected to become part of the family business.”

Fez Medina, Children's Library

Fez Medina, Children’s Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since its opening in January 2015, the Fez Medina Children’s Library has become a big hit with local kids. On average, between 35-50 kids attend every day. In May 2015 alone, it welcomed over 1,100 children through its doors. Wafae, aged nine, explains: “Before the library was here, I only used to play in the street with my friends.” And Kawtar, five years old, added, “I come to the library because I want to read more stories. They stay with me always.” Local children are really excited to have a place to go to discover books, listen to stories and read in a welcoming and safe environment near their homes. They can also borrow books for up to a week to read at home and share with their families. Khadija, aged 13, explains: “I come to read short stories and novels in French and Arabic. I also like to take the books home to read them.”

The library has been conceived with a particular focus on younger children: pre-readers and developing readers (up to the age of 14 years old). Children in the Fez medina have ample access to TV and the internet, but children need age appropriate and culturally relevant books to fuel their learning and development as they grow. Through their own enthusiasm for reading, they can also ignite an interest in their parents, many of whom themselves are illiterate.

Children's Library, Fez Medina

Children’s Library, Fez Medina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as reading, the children can come to the library to listen to stories read from books. Once a day in the week and twice daily at weekends, a volunteer reader brings the stories alive and continues a tradition of oral storytelling very familiar to the children. They sit quietly to listen and are eager to answer comprehension questions. The sessions encourage them to discover the stories contained in the books for themselves.

The librarians are locals and receive a salary for their work. Hamza, 23, is studying for a degree in English.  He got involved because “I live in the medina, I like reading and I like children.” He and fellow librarian Safae supervise the kids in the library and faithfully record their attendance and the books they borrow.

The Medina Children’s Library is managed by the Fez Association for Children of the Medina. The association’s members are volunteers committed to improving the lives of children in the Fez Medina and to bringing their own love of reading to the children of their local neighbourhood. They have great ambition to expand the library to new premises and add extras such as creative, sport and environmental activities to the library’s remit.

The library is open 10am – 7pm on weekdays and 10am – 6pm at weekends at 41 Zkak Rouah – Talaa Sghira in the Fez Medina. Further information on the library and how to contribute are available at: www.medinachildrenslibrary.org

Article References:

http://www.data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.ZS

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/morocco_statistics.html

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about the Fez Medina’s Children’s Library or a Tour of Fes

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.
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Opening Night at the 21st Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

Fes Festival of Sacred Music, Opening Night - Photo by Lynn Sheppard

Fes Festival of Sacred Music, Opening Night – Photo by Lynn Sheppard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each year, the holy and ancient city of Fes, Morocco is host to the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. This festival brings together sacred and world music from many different cultural, religious and musical traditions. This year’s theme, “Fes: An African Reflection” recalls how Fes was once the intellectual, cultural, spiritual and commercial hub of an Empire which traded and connected with its neighbors across mountains and deserts. The opening night of the festival, held on May 22nd at the magnificent Bab Makina venue, wowed the audience as they were taken across the borders of ancient empires to meet these fascinating peoples and learn their customs.

As the daylight dimmed and the swifts ceased circling over the rooftops of Old Fes, the last of the VIPs took their seats at the front of a sell-out venue for the opening concert of the 21st Fes Festival of Sacred Music. HRH Princess Lalla Selma – representing King Mohammed VI, who is patron of the Festival – arrived in a huddle of black-suited security in a stunning white and gold caftan, to a patter of applause and a burst of flashbulbs. Once the audience was settled, the welcome address was delivered in Arabic, English and French and our journey – in the footsteps of Leo Africanus (Hassan el Wazzan, 16th century diplomat, traveler and chronicler of Africa) – took us across North and West Africa, from tribe to tribe and tradition to tradition in a full circle until we returned back to the holy city of Fes.

21st Annual Fes Festival of Sacred Music, Opening Night - Photo by Lynn Sheppard

21st Annual Fes Festival of Sacred Music, Opening Night – Photo by Lynn Sheppard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s opening night -for the 21st edition – was a true spectacle. As we journeyed southward, over 100 artists gave us a glimpse of the musical and cultural traditions along the way: from the Amazigh fables of the Moroccan mountains, to the Andalusian traditions of Fes. From the griot heritage of West Africa to the Simb Lion dance of Senegal. With each step along the journey, the backdrop – which began with Fes famous Bab Boujeloud gate projected on the walls of the Bab Makina – changed from Savannah to desert camp, to palm oasis and back to imperial city.

Moroccan oud master, Driss al Maloumi, opened the show with an Amazigh fable about a sad moon under a backdrop of a full moon and a starry sky. Then to follow, Amazigh songstress, Chérifa greeted the crowd.  A real highlight was the Masks of the Moon Bwaba Ritual, the group performing for the first time outside their native Burkina Faso. Their startling black and white costumes and the haunting melody of the percussion accompanied an incredibly energetic and ritualistic dance. On a gentler note, Malian Ballaké Sissoko, gave the audience a real treat as he appeared on stage with no less than 10 koras, of the Kora Ensemble of Bamako.

After a whistle stop tour of Africa, we arrived with Hassan al Wazzan back in Fez, at the tomb of Sidi Ahmed Tijani, founder of the Tijani Sufi brotherhood. The evening concluded with the Tijani brotherhood singing a song familiar to all the Fassi (Fes natives) in the audience.

The opening event certainly got the Fes Sacred Music Festival off to an impressive and inspiring start. Many of the artists present will appear at over 50 concerts and events over the 9 days of the festival until 30 May 2015.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Ramadan Ambiance in Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Ramadan in Morocco and other Islamic countries is an unusual time when in addition to heightened spirituality, a special atmosphere permeates the culture unlike the rest of the year.  This is even more true when the month falls outside of the school year, as most of it does this year, 2010.  Normal schedules are completely turned around during Ramadan, and people enjoy special foods and family celebration.

Red Harira, Moroccan Soup

A typical Ramadan evening in Morocco and other Islamic countries, breakfast or “Laftour” is served after sunset and consists of red or white harira, hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with salt and cumin, a sticky-sweet pastry called shebakkia, dates, freshly-squeezed orange juice, coffee with milk, and often milkshakes made with both avocado and banana.

Shebakkia, a sticky-sweet Ramadan pastry

Sometimes in the evening, some of the more unusual Moroccan specialties are consumed, such as cooked lamb’s feet, sheep’s brains, or even cow’s head.

Sheep's Brains

Most people in Morocco and other Islamic countries go out late in the evening during Ramadan and stay out at night much later than normal.  (This is because the three meals of daytime are eaten at night, and the third meal falls about 4 AM.) The streets can be more crowded at midnight than during the daytime rush hours.  Many stores and restaurants open up in the evening and stay open until after midnight.  Some restaurants stay open until 3 AM.

Inside a Moroccan Supermarket

Because of staying up so late, many housewives will go to bed around 5-6 AM, and get up again around 10-11 AM.  It will be too hot at that time (over 100°F/37°C) to go out shopping, so they will prepare foods for the evening from what is available at home.  Around 3-5 PM, most people will rest or sleep.  After the evening breafast around 7:00 PM, most people rest or sleep another two hours, then get up for the evening.  Many housewives and families will go shopping in the supermarkets between 10PM and Midnight.  Others just go out  because it’s cooler than the daytime, and because everybody else is out.

People who pray have a much more rigorous schedule for getting up, and may need to shower for religious reasons before 10 AM, as well as keeping to rigorous prayer schedules.

Corridor in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

The fast currently starts about 4:30 AM and finishes around 7:00 PM.  So now that most students have not yet started back to school (mid-September in Morocco), most are staying up all night until about 5-6 AM, and sleeping late until 3-4 in the afternoon.  This is not really a recommended practice, as it shortens the hours of fasting, but it is not absolutely forbidden.  Correctly, a person should get up by 11:00 at the latest.  However, even for those who do get up, many of them are resting or sleeping several of those hours, but later in the afternoon.

For those who do have regular working hours, the hours of work are generally considerably shortened.  Schools open 60-90 minutes later than normal (9:30 -10:00 AM), and instead of closing for lunch, work straight through to an earlier closing time (2:30 – 3:00 PM).  Businesses often work 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, or from 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM.

The last ten days of Ramadan are a very special time, because it is when the Koran was revealed.

The Ablution Room in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Some people even go to the mosque and pray all night for all of the last ten nights, since no one is sure of the one actual night during that period when the Koran was revealed.  This practice is called Itiqaf, and is also felt to offer worshipers protection against excessive socializing, sleeping and talking, and turn worshipers’ attention toward Allah.

For more information about Ramadan in Morocco

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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How Does the Ramadan Fast Affect Tourists in Morocco? Your Morocco Travel Guide

Men At Prayer During Ramadan

How does the Ramadan fast affect tourists traveling to the Imperial Cities, the Sahara Desert and other regions of Morocco during this high holy holiday? Can tourists eat or drink in public during Ramadan?  This article should clear up the confusion on this issue for tourists, to explain the most polite solutions for tourist behavior at this time, and to assure tourists that there is no problem with them visiting Morocco during Ramadan.

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, holidays such as Ramadan advance by approximately ten days with each subsequent year.  This means that Ramadan makes a cycle through the entire calendar of twelve months each twenty-some years.  This year, Ramadan started on August 12th, 2010 in Morocco.  The fast presently starts in Morocco at approximately 4:30 AM, and ends in the evening at approximately 7:30 PM.

Islamic Lunar Calendar

Tourists in Morocco during Ramadan often hear that some people are not required to fast because of sickness, or health conditions such as diabetes, as well as women having their menstration.  But non-Muslim tourists are often confused about the polite way to behave with Muslims during Ramadan; what tourists are permitted to do, or not do; and tourists wonder which stories they hear are true, or not true.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca Morocco

Morocco’s Ramadan Law:

It IS actually true that Morocco’s laws prohibit “a person commonly known to be Muslim” from “violating the fast in a public place during Ramadan.”  It is called the Ramadan Law, and is under Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code.  (This law also applies to Muslim tourists coming from known Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, if they were to flaunt the fast in public.)   The penalties are from one to six months in prison and a fine of up to approximately 100 Euros.  The law states that the only Muslims who are exempt from this requirement are children, the elderly, the sick;  and pregnant, lactating or menstruating women.

Sometimes one can read about small protests that take place in Morocco against this law.  The truth is, while this law is on the books, people are rarely prosecuted.  Usually, if there is a token protest, the police do their best to try to prevent the protesters from arriving at the protest location, instead of arresting them.

Remember, it is NOT forbidden by law  to EAT during Ramadan (even though it IS socially unacceptable for Muslims who should be fasting), which means that Muslims who decide not to fast in their own homes will incur no penalties (other than sin against God).  The law is very specific saying that Muslims “shall not violate the fast in a PUBLIC place.”  Keeping the fast is difficult, and becomes much more difficult if people actively break it in front of others who are fasting.  Therefore, the reason for this law is two-fold:  to make it easier for those who are fasting, as well as to both teach the young, and communicate the idea to all Muslims that breaking the fast is most definitely not socially acceptable.  This goes right along with several other laws in Morocco which prohibit certain behavior IN PUBLIC PLACES by Muslims (discussed below).

The whole key here is PUBLIC PLACE.  Let’s explore what this means.

Women Shopping During Ramadan

Those Excused from Fasting:

Children are not required to fast at all, although older children (8-12) might be encouraged to try it on a couple of special days during the month.  But no child is FORCED to fast those days.  Those who do usually try hard to get through the day because it gives them the feeling of being “grown up.”  They see the adults doing it, and they want to be part of that adult world, to feel respected and admired for doing so.

Younger children would never be encouraged to fast, even on those one or two special days.  They are still growing and Islam clearly recognizes that fasting is not good for their growing bodies.  If you go to a semi-private location, such as a swimming pool at a private club, you will find all the Muslim mothers feeding their children during the day, and no one objects to this.  But they are not eating out on the public street.  Muslim mothers certainly feed their children at home during the day, as well.

The elderly DO fast.  Elderly people fast unless they are in extremely poor health.  In many cases, doctors even advise them not to fast, but many of them do it anyway.  They do it because they feel there is moral value in fasting, and in many cases, it is a case of self-respect.  Some very elderly or infirm people give up fasting, but very rarely.

Sick (or injured) people are not to fast.  The question becomes how sick or injured one must be.  If blood comes out of one’sbody, such as if someone cuts themself in the kitchen with a knife accidentally, that would invalidate their fast for that day.  But the question is how much.  Suppose a man gets a tiny knick from his razor, is that enough to invalidate the fast?  Supposedly not.  But since that becomes questionable depending upon the size of the knick, many Muslim men shave in the evening during Ramadan, just in case.

People with serious health conditions such as diabetes can fast and are encouraged to do so if their illness is not severe and they have it properly under control.  Those with more advanced or severe diabetes are often told by doctors that they should not fast, yet some of them do anyway.  It seems to be a question of pride (or even showing off to others that they “can” do it) and maintaining respect both in their own eyes and from others, particularly if they are not old.  Some diabetics insist on fasting and even fall into comas because of it, yet continue to fast anyway.  Most Muslims, if questioned about these people insist that they most definitely should not be fasting.

People who are just a little bit sick (a light cold, headache, even sore throat, or ear infection) still have to fast.  If someone had a fever, they would be excused from fasting.  Malingering, when someone is just very slightly ill or not feeling their best is definitely not an acceptable excuse.

Pregnant women are not supposed to fast, but in fact, many do.  This is because pregnant women are supposed to make up the fasting days later in the year on their own.  The explanation given by some Moroccan women for fasting while pregnant is that, “I would not be able to make up all those days on my own.”  However, this behavior is most definitley not condoned by Islam.

Lactating women are not supposed to fast either, and are also required to make up the days on their own.

Menstruating women are not required to fast.  Most women find these days a welcome break during the middle of fasting.  However, if they are working in a company with mixed Moroccan and foreign workers, they will not join others in the lunchroom who are not fasting, even if they themselves are eating during those days; instead they wait, and eat at home.  The reason is interesting.  They say that if a man at their workplace sees them eating, he will know it is their time of the month.  They say they don’t like their male co-workers knowing this personal information!  Therefore, they don’t eat at work.  They must also make up those fasting days later in the year.

There is one guide book about Morocco which says something which is completely wrong. It says that in the days before Ramadan, you start to see some of the women and older people fasting a few days before Ramadan, in order to “practice” and be habituated  when Ramadan starts.  This reasoning is wrong.  What IS correct is that they are making up missed days from the year before, as those days need to be completely made up before the new Ramadan fast begins (or they are answerable to God for each day not made up).  Some elderly people could be making up days they missed.  A few, extremely devout people do fast a few extra days, as they feel they will earn “extra points” with God for doing a few extra days of fasting.

Ladies in Djemaa El Fna Square, Ramadan

About Public Spaces in Morocco:

The Ramadan Law is not the only law relating to public space in Morocco.

A similar law (and similarly confusing to many tourists) is about alcohol.   In places like Agadir on the boardwalk next to the beach, or in bars located in other cities, there is sometimes an outdoor section where clients can sit and order drinks.  In some locations, tourists can order a beer or glass of wine and drink it while seated in the outdoor section.  While Muslims can also order a beer or glass of wine (except during Ramadan or other Muslim holdiays when it is strictly prohibited), they must sit inside to drink it.  Those Muslims who are sitting outside are only drinking coffee or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Is this hypocrisy?  Most tourists think so.  However, Moroccans feel it is proper because being a Muslim country it is more offensive to Muslims in the street to see other Muslims consuming alcohol than it is for them to see non-Muslims consuming it.  It is a bit like vulgar words being bleeped out on broadcast American TV.  Everyone knows they are saying vulgar words, but at least Americans don’t have to hear those words.  It’s a similar situation.  Muslims in the street know that others are inside consuming alcohol, but at least they don’t have to see other Muslims doing it.

The Ramadan Law has a similar reasoning.  People can eat if they want to, but if you’re Muslim, you are just forbidden from doing so in PUBLIC.

Chebekia Moroccan Pastry Eaten At Ramadan

A Guide for Tourist Behavior During Ramadan:

Understanding these factors, what should non-Muslim tourists do?  Out of respect, they should follow similar behavior as Muslims who would be diabetic, or ill, or pregnant.

These Muslims would eat at home.  If they were sick while out somewhere, yet needed to eat or drink, they would go in a private place where no one would see them (a few people might go into a restroom if there were no other place, but only as a last resort).  Very few restaurants would be open during the day, but tourists would find a few, primarily in hotels.  Both Muslims and tourists could buy water at a shop, but should not just open it and drink it in front of everyone.  Instead, they should find a place to drink privately, not in public.  (One Moroccan Muslim man was attacked in Fes two years ago by civilian vigilantes for drinking water in the medina street, arrested, and subsequently released when his family proved he was diabetic.  But it’s clear he was pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and would have known it.  He could easily have explained in advance he was diabetic, and asked anyone if there was a private place where he could sip his water.)  So this is no reason for tourists to be alarmed.

If a tourist and were openly eating and drinking during Ramadan, people would most likely just give him dirty looks, understanding that he was a tourist.  But the polite and respectful thing to do would be for him to eat and drink well before going out.  It is advisable for tourists to take water in their bag, by all means, but just find a private place to drink it.  If a tourist needs to eat, he / she shouldn’t do it in public.  It’s perfectly acceptable for tourists to eat in any restaurant you find that is open, and these are most likely to be found in hotels or known tourist locations.

Harira & Dates, Breafkast (L'Ftour) Ramadan

Ramadan can actually be a very interesting time to visit a Muslim country.  After dark, families go out late, and plenty of interesting things go on until quite late in the evening.  Just be considerate of people during this month.  The Ramadan Law is actually just asking (and ensuring) that Muslims also continue to treat each other respectfully.

For more information about traveling to Morocco’s Imperial Cities or Sahara Desert During Ramadan

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Pasha Glaoui’s Legacy & Kasbahs in Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Pacha Glaoui

Pasha T’hami Glaoui was the most powerful man in Morocco between 1953 and 1956, in addition to being one of the richest men in the world at that time.  The title Pasha means Governor.  Glaoui was the Pasha of Marrakesh (since 1912), Ouarzazate, and most of the Moroccan south during the time Morocco was under French rule. The most important Kasbahs’ in Morocco that were occupied by the Pacha Glaoui during his reign and are frequented by Moroccan travelers today are Kasbah Taouirt, located in the center of Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou, located 15 kilometers outside Ouarzazate and Kasbah Telouet which sits in the village of Telouet nestled outside the Onilla Valley.

Glaoui Palace in Marrakesh during the days of Pacha Thami El Glaoui

As a result of the Pasha Glaoui siding with the French since the beginning of the 20th Century, Moroccans view Glaoui as a traitor.  However it was the Glaoui’s siding with the French which propelled him toward such enormous wealth and power.

Thami El Glaoui in center front row watching Paris dancers in Marrakech in 1952

So, how did Glaoui become so powerful?  Glaoui was born to Si Mohammed ben Hammou, who was a baron (also called a “caid” in Morocco) and his Ethiopian concubine Zora, in 1879.  Si Mohamed died in 1888.  T’hami became the teenage assistant of his eldest brother Si Madani, who took over after their father’s death.

Kasbah Taouirt Ouarzazate

In 1893, while Sultan Moulay Hassan was on a tax-gathering expedition, the two Glaoui brothers and their mother had the good fortune to save the sultan from a blizzard and starvation while he was on a tax-gathering expedition through the mountains.  To show his gratitude, the sultan gave the Glaouis a gift of the 77-mm Krupp cannon, which can now be viewed in the Kasbah de Taourirt in Ouarzazate.  At that time, this was the only such weapon outside of the imperial army.  The Glaouis used it to subdue rival warlords in the surrounding then-feudalistic society, which continued through the 1950’s.

77-mm Krupp Cannon given to the Glaouis

In 1907, Si Madani was appointed as the Grand Vizier to Sultan Moulay Hafid, and Thami was appointed as Pasha of Marrakesh.

The Glaoui’s actual family name is El Mezouari, a name given to their ancestor in 1700 by Sultan Moulay Ismail.  El Glaoui refers to their belonging to the Glaoui tribe, which is mostly located around the 4 x 4 mountain pass of Telouet.  Many natives of Telouet now have the name Glaoui, but are not actually part of the El Mezouari family.

Glaoui Kasbah in Telouet

The Glaouis were already rich, and their early wealth was based on salt.   Their wealth continued to grow though what was brought by the camel caravans crossing the Sahara from as far away as Mauretania and Sudan.  Once Glaoui sided with the French, they gave him free reign in “pacifying” the South, as well as giving him both the olive and saffron trades, and Moroccan salt and mineral mines.  Glaoui also earned a substantial income from the red light district in Marrakesh known as the “Quartier Reservé.”

T'Hami El Glaoui (center) in LIFE Magazine

In 1953, Pasha Glaoui conspired with the French in the exile of Moroccan Sultan Mohamed V.  However, Mohamed V returned to Morocco in 1955 after the French decided Morocco was falling into chaos, and left, abandoning their support of Glaoui.  All of Glaoui’s property was siezed by the state, and his kasbahs fell into disrepair.  In 1956, Morocco gained independence, and Glaoui died.

Thami L'Glaoui

In recent years, much restoration has been done on the various Glaoui kasbahs, which are considered a very important part of Morocco’s heritage.

For more information about a Morocco Travel visit to the Pachi Glaoui’s Kasbahs in Morocco

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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How to Prepare Moroccan Terjla, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Moroccan Terjla Prepared for the Table, as a Side Dish

Moroccan terjla (the Moroccan Arabic name) is frequently prepared as a side dish, and can be served either hot or cold.  Terjla, a succulent plant, known as purslane in English and verdolaga in Spanish, is not only one of the most delicious Moroccan plants, but it is simple to prepare.  Being a dark green plant, it is loaded with iron, vitamins, and minerals.  It also has a mild lemony flavor. When traveling to Morocco make sure to ask your Moroccan Travel Agency to recommend restaurants or local places where you can taste Moroccan terjla in a traditional restaurant.

Close-up View of the Moroccan Terjla Plant

Close-up View of the Moroccan Terjla Plant

Terjla is not often available in the major supermarkets because it is considered a traditional Moroccan dish, and the supermarkets often cater to products they feel will appeal to a broader audience of foreigners and less traditional Moroccans.  However, terjla can easily be found from late spring to late autumn in all the local vegetable markets.  The best place to find it in Marrakech is the small vegetable sellers just inside Bab Dukkala; however, it is found in many other places.  It’s a traditional staple in the cuisines of Fes, Casablanca, Tangier, Agadir, Ouarzazate, and Marrakech.

If you are traveling in Morocco, you are most likely to eat terjla in a private home.  If you are staying in a smaller hotel or riad and would like to try it, request it a day in advance, and they can look for it in the local market.  Most places would probably be delighted to prepare it for you.

How to Prepare Terjla

Traditional Moroccan Method:

Chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves

Discard any bruised leaves, and chop terjla (stems and leaves together) into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) pieces.  Put into a deep bowl.  Fill with water, and swish well; pour through a large strainer to drain out wash water.

Put terjla into water with some salt (it’s not a bitter plant, so take care not to oversalt it) and boil about 20 minutes until tender, but not limp). Drain water.

Season and toss gently with a clove or two (depending upon quantity) of freshly minced garlic, a little cumin, a little paprika, salt to taste (carefully) OR a very small piece of preserved lemon (but not if you added salt–use only one or the other), and a little olive oil.  Red olives can also be added.

Adapted Method which Yields Excellent Results:

Washed and trimmed terjla, ready to chop

Wash and trim the terjla of any bruised leaves (if it is just fresh from the market, it will only need to be washed).  I suggest swishing it two or three times in a deep mixing bowl of water.  Sometimes some very tiny black seeds will fall out if the terjla is in bloom.

Tiny terjla seed pods

But if there, these seeds are so tiny you don’t need to worry about them.  I trimmed off the tiny seed pods before chopping the terjla.

Chop terjla (stems and leaves together) into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) pieces.  Have ready one large unpeeled garlic clove for each cup of chopped terjla.

Two cups of chopped terjla placed in a steamer basket with two large garlic cloves

Choose one of the following cooking methods, both of which work:  boil chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves in plain water, or lightly salted water OR steam chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves in the basket for about 20 minutes.  (A Moroccan suggested the steam method to me, and I prefer it, since the vitamins don’t go down the drain with the boiling water.)

When the terjla is done, the garlic will be cooked inside.  Remove the garlic cloves, and carefully slice off the end.  The cooked garlic can be easily squeezed out into a small bowl from the opposite end.  Mash it into a paste with the back of a large spoon.  Add a small amount of black pepper and paprika to taste (1/8 tsp. of each for each cup of terjla).

slicing off the end of a cooked garlic clove squeezing a cooked garlic clove out of its skin garlic paste with black pepper and paprika in a bowl

Choose ONE of the following two : salt (lightly, to taste) OR a small piece of Moroccan preserved lemon (no more than 1/2 tsp. per cup of terjla, and take care not to use ANY salt).

Mix well, and add 1/2 Tbsp. of virgin olive oil for each  cup of cooked terjla (or more to taste).  Mix again well.  Add cooked terjla, and toss gently with a spoon until mixed well.  Optional, for olive lovers:  add two or three whole red olives for each cup of terjla.

Serve in side dishes at room temperature, warm on a cold day, or chilled on a hot day.  Terjla is delicious at any temperature.  Moroccans usually eat it with bread, as they do tagine; however, it may also be eaten with a spoon as a salad.

How to Find Terjla (Purslane) Outside of Morocco

Purslane grows in sunny areas from Canada to the Carribean, but is considered a weed in North America.  However, since it is a green vegetable used in Mexico and many Latin countries, you might be able to find it at Latin green grocers in North America.  (If collecting wild, take care that it is not in an area that has been deliberately poisoned as a weed.)

Wild summer purslane

According to experts, purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other green leafy vegetable plant.  It also contains vitamins A, C, and B, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Upright purslane species grown as a vegetable

Wild species often grow along the ground, while cultivated species often stand more upright.  It has been used both as a salad and medicinal plant with many uses for hundreds of years.  Purslane is commonly used in salads in France.  The plant is believed to be native to the area of India and Iran.

For more information about a Moroccan Terjla or a Taste of Morocco Private Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Coffee and Café Ambiance, Your Moroccan Travel Guide

A Café in Marrakesh, Morocco - Photo by Richard Mueller

Enjoying the ambiance in various Moroccan cities is partly what a trip to Morocco is all about. When traveling to Morocco, make sure to take time out to enjoy Moroccan coffee and the cafe ambiance that each city offers. Marrakech, Tangier, Essaouira and Agadir are known for having the most and the best cafe’s, the best variety of Moroccan Arabic coffee and are spacious, comfortable hotspots for people watching. Moroccan coffee is different from American coffee. The two most commonly-ordered types are black, served in a Moroccan tea glass, and coffee with milk, usually served in a cup, but sometimes in a tea glass.There are several types of coffee with milk.  The first is café cassé, which means black coffee broken with a little bit of milk.  The other common type is “café nss nss”  (no vowel in nss), which means half coffee (made with water) and half milk.

Café "nss nss"

The third type is café crème, which means a cup of hot milk to which instant Nescafé is added (but it is not made with cream, which was never available in Morocco until recently, but would never in any case be found in a café).

Enjoy Your Coffee on the Balcony at the Hotel Continental in Tangier, Morocco

Traditionally, mint tea has been the beverage of choice in Morocco. Some travel across the world just to sample authentic Moroccan tea in the land where its masterful preparation has become almost as much of an art-form as the Japanese tea ceremony. It is believed that tea was first introduced to Morocco in the 18th century, and began spreading through the country in the mid-1800s at the time the trade between the Maghreb and Europe started flourishing. It is reported that Sultan Moulay Ismail received many bags of tea and sugar as gifts and recompenses given by European envoys in order to release European prisoners. Moroccans quickly developed a fondness for the tea, but adapted it to their own ways by adding mint.

However, according to Euromonitor International, the amount of coffee consumption in Morocco has risen steadily among Moroccans, and has especially accelerated over the past few years.  An increasing number of cafés are opening all over Morocco.  Instant coffee, dominated by Nescafé is very popular in Moroccan homes.

A Café in Agadir, Morocco

Moroccans make several variations of coffee in their own homes which you might like to try in your home.

Nescafé Classic

(Note:  Moroccans who use instant coffee mostly use Nescafé Classic –no substitute, or other type of Nescafé tastes the same.  If you prefer, use freshly brewed strong, black coffee in place of Nescafé crystals.)

Cafés in Essaouira, Morocco

Version 1:  Daily Morning Coffee, with Simple Continental Breakfast


Heat two cups of milk until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly brewed strong black coffee) and sugar to taste.  Moroccans often serve morning coffee in two thermos pitchers, one with black coffee, the other with milk, so that each person can mix their coffee exactly as they like it.

Version 2:  Coffee Spiced with Whole Cloves

Heat two cups of milk, together with three whole cloves, until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin; disgard cloves.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly-brewed coffee) and sugar to taste.

Version 3:  Coffee with Black Pepper

Heat two cups of milk until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin. Add 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly-brewed coffee) and sugar to taste.

Version 4:  Coffee with Ras el Hanut

Ras el Hanut is a group of spices mixed together which translates as “top of the shop.”  It is used in a variety of Moroccan dishes.  Sometimes it can be purchased at Middle Eastern groceries, or better yet, on your own trip to Morocco!

If you do not have this spice mixture available, just  a pinch of a few spices can be substituted in your coffee.

Heat two cups of milk until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout, OR a pinch of each of the followingground spices:  cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and black pepper.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly-brewed coffee) and sugar to taste.

Version 5:  Black Coffee with a Lemon Twist

Authentic version (probably imported to Morocco from France): To a cup of boiling water, add a rounded (or heaping, if stronger is preferred) teaspoon of Nescafé.  Or use freshly-brewed strong coffee.  Cut a 1/8-inch thick slice of lemon peel. Twist it for the oils to come out of the peel, and drop it into the coffee.  Add sugar if you like it.

Variation using Lemon Juice: Add a full tablespoon of lemon juice to strong black coffee. Add three+ tablespoons of sugar. Tastes a bit like strong, black coffee flavored with lemonade. (Note: Splenda might work, since it is made from real sugar– but aspartame products definitely taste really bad with lemon juice.) This variation is excellent, but I don’t make it often because of the amount of sugar required to balance the lemon juice. (Note that lemon juice doesn’t taste right in coffee unless real sugar is used.) An additional alternative is to use a bartender’s sweetened lemon-flavored syrup.

For more information about Morocco Travel and Morocco’s Cafe Scene

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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