A weekend in the Middle Atlas mountains.Rabat, Spring 2012

As per usual, study abroad and its many adventures have proved more fun than documenting about them, so I'm officially way behind in blogging as this past month has flown by. As I type this, it's hard to believe but I'm down to just 3 full days left in Rabat... WHAT?? I'm in complete and utter denial still and will attempt to use these next few blog posts as a way to ignore the impending closure of the semester. Featured below are shots from our IES sponsored field trip to a Berber Village in the Middle Atlas Mountains about a month ago. We stayed in homestays in the small village of Ben Smim outside of a larger town called Azrou. Though I think many went into this weekend trip a little hesitant as to what we would find; I had the most beautiful, relaxing weekend, enjoying a little piece of a simpler lifestyle up in the scenic mountainside. Though Ben Smim was definitely one of the poorer, more rural villages we've actually visited, I know that by poverty's standards, many of the inhabitants in the town would be considered lucky, with enough basic necessities to live in a comfortable, though extremely modest way. Despite this, it was quite a change from our faster paced, modern, Rabat city lives, as we adjusted to quiet days in the family room, farm life and squat toilets. Though education standards in the village weren't great, I was pleasantly surprised that I could communicate with my host sister and brother through broken french, and my feeble Arabic, making our learning experience there much more rewarding. Most of the weekend a heavy rain fell throughout the countryside, making for cold and cozy nights in by the fire and more family bonding time involving kaftans, djellabas, couscous and henna... and not to forget bonding with the host cat... my favorite thing ever and the most spoiled cat in Morocco (see photos below). During the rest of the weekend, we also got the experience of visiting multiple different women's collectives where they were making local goods (honey, herbal soaps, weaved blankets, etc.) to improve their standard of living. Also, on our final day, we wrapped up the weekend with a 4 hour hike through the Middle Atlas Mountains around Azrou, a bit cold but completely worth it for the beautiful view and picnic at the top. [gallery link="file" order="DESC" orderby="ID"]
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