The next morning we woke up before dawn and headed to the Kasbah. To
reach it, we had to remove shoes and socks and wade across a painfully
cold river. Shivering, no longer in communication with our pedal
extremities, but definitely awake, we reshod and headed towards the
ruins. There was a stork nest atop one of the corner towers, its
occupant standing to greet the rising sun.
We climbed a small knoll
that afforded a nice view of the entire complex. The first light
hitting the mud walls was amazing.
As we headed into the “ruins” we
made an interesting discovery. This place was still inhabited. It was
sort of like going to Mesa Verde or Chaco and finding the inhabitants
still in place. The next discovery was made by a fellow named Hassan,
and the discovery was of us. Hassan has a small dimly lit shop in an
outlying building of the Kasbah. He is, of course, a nomad, from the
south. M’Hamid to be exact. And he is a caravanner of camels. A
familiar story. In a gentle minuet of persuasion, we took tea, and soon
found ourselves bargaining for jewelry. I ended up with a few necklaces
and a bracelet (a heavy silver one that Hassan clasped around my wrist
by way of indicating that he accepted my offer) Dave bought a tent
pick (a carved wooden thing used to secure Berber tents in deep sand).
To end the festivities, Hassan swaddled us in robes and cheches and
pronounced us all brothers of the desert.
Taking our leave, we continued into the Kasbah. The higher we climbed,
the more abandoned the structures were, until we were at the top,
huddled behind a remnant of a wall against the cold wind blowing down
from the Atlas. From here, despite the cold wind, it is easy to see the
appeal of the site. It afforded a good view down the valley and a
panoramic vista of the Atlas to the north and east. We descended back
down to the river and once more endured its icy grip on our ankles.
Long drainspout, it is a mud building after all.