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Women in Marocco

Marocco Diary

… Arrival in Souk Tleta des Akhasass, which means market on the third day, so that’s today, Tuesday. Souad, Abdeleilah and Hanin are recognized by their uncle, big, big welcome, peppermint tea. We buy vegetables and meat. Fifteen kilometers of track, dusty mud road along argantrees and cacti …

… Grandmother is awaiting us with her granddaughter – somebody has announced us. Mudhouse with a flat roof (in the end we don’t sleep up there because of the scorpions), white and pink and turquoise walls indoors, all the rooms and courtyards interlocking, water just from the well below the house …

… I take pictures of grandmother, who is wearing a huge amber ball around her neck and has henna dyed palms. We clean vegetables for tajine. Peppermint tea. No photo of the daughter, her husband forbids it (grandmother’s husband already dead). Everybody is laughing and talking …

… Keltuma, aged four, is afraid of us for two days. She is wearing a necklace with Fatima’s hand to protect her from the evil eye. Her father teaches her the Arabic alphabet from a wooden board, verse from the Koran on another board. As soon as she knows that, her education is finished, father doesn’t send her to school. During dinner my legs go numb, because of my clumsiness I’m allowed to use the only spoon in the house for the couscous. All of us laughing …

… Miina’s sisters come visiting, with children and mother-in-law, who stirs buttermilk for three hours. While the men are away I’m allowed to take pictures. Lots of fun for everybody, lots of joy and happiness about seeing each other again after three years. Big dinner – but only for us. Abdeleilah repairs the only luxury items, a gas refrigerator that was broken for two years, and a small croaking radio …

… I take a photo of a little girl herding the goats. Father looking on from the distance, assuming I take photos of the goats. Next day her sister approaches me, she, too, would like to be photographed, secretly …

… Track of Taroudannt into the mountains for two hours. Small sandstorm, arising out of nothing and disappearing again, ford through the river, we cross just before the flood arrives (thunderstorm in the mountains). In the valley behind green cornfields, palmtrees, corn drawings on the mudhouses. Uncle welcomes us in front of his house. His wife has died, his nephew has returned from town to take over the farm. We get water in clay amphoras from the irrigation canal, clean vegetables, Souad bakes bread in the open fire. The women don’t hide. The children are like giggling ghosts around the house until dark. Huge starry sky….

aussi, Arunda Kulturzeitschrift 45, 1997