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.

Copyright Estate of Anthony Vail Sloan 2009