Bhalil and Sefrou, Morocco

alex bhalil plateau.jpg

Here we see Alex bravely traversing a plateau marked by a butte that looks a little like her hat.  We arrived at this spot yesterday under the guidance of the most excellent Kamal Chaoui, our host for a two day visit to Sefrou and it’s smaller neighbor, Bhalil.  Kamal has a guesthouse in Bhalil and we loved it and we loved spending time with Kamal and I could go on but Alex has promised to write about him separately so I’ll leave that to her.

Way off in the distance beyond Alex, you can see a very small  white farmhouse.  We ended up there and enjoyed a great lunch of lentil soup,  grilled kefta, and melon, hosted by some Berber farmer friends of Kamal. The kids at the house were shy, just like our own, when we arrived but eventually they all invented a non-lingual game of soccer/tag that occupied them while the grownups had a siesta under an olive tree.  The skies opened and the grownups hurried into the living room while the kids took cover in another room that turned out to belong, much to Phoebe’s delight, to the cow.

We parted ways once the rain stopped, and the kids gave each other high fives and hugs and posed for goodbye photos:

kids plateau II.jpg

Great feelings all around, especially for the Chevy Chase parents exposing their kids to a world without everything we’re used to, like electricity (they do somehow have cell phones) and school.  After three weeks of such encounters in Morocco, though, we wonder if we’re really seeing how these people on the other side of the world live.  This lunch was an arranged affair, as have been almost any of our conversations with Moroccans that have lasted longer than 90 seconds.  As we walk through each town’s medina and exchange   one of our two Arabic greetings with locals, we aren’t getting any sense of how they live, what’s on their mind, or what really worries them. We’ve heard a handful of mentions of Syrian refugees but certainly haven seen a trace.  I wish this weren’t the case, but it may not be possible without living in one place in one country for much a longer time than we’re willing to commit

We leave Morocco in 36 hours for 2 months in Portugal and Spain, where we will re-acquaint ourselves with the comforts of the First World.  I am sure that we will have more opportunities to get to know locals, and that the culture gulf will be narrower than that between the outer reaches of Bhalil and Northwest DC. Whatever the case, I hope our kids remember their counterparts  in the photo above and Alex and I would like to think they’re better off having spend some time together.

Heavy stuff, but I’m happy for anything that distracts from Phoebe’s current rant about why she didn’t get a popsicle after dinner (she says it’s because her mommy is mean and this trip is no fun).  Thanks for reading, and I’ll leave you with a photo that I like from tonight’s pre-dinner card game on the roof of our guesthouse here in Moulay-Idriss. Phoebe had not yet realized that she would not be getting dessert.

roof moulay idriss BRIGHTER











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