Last night, we stayed in a 300-year old Kasbah… with wi-fi.
It was an odd but wonderful mixture of old and new.
A Kasbah is an adobe-type structure that is square. They are traditional homes here in Morocco. The rooms are all on the outside of the square and the center is reserved for the courtyard.
Some kasbahs are still inhabited by families.
Ours used to be featured on the back of the Moroccan 50 Dirham bill. It’s kind of a big deal.
We stayed at the Kasbah one night and then went through the adjoining museum the next day. The family that built the Kasbah still owns it today, generations later.
One side is used as a hotel and the other is a sort of living museum. I should point out, this was not a museum as you’d normally picture one, in which there are panels explaining the significance of each artifact behind a temperature controlled glass case.
No, this was basically an intact building with a table full of old things like a gramophone and a goatskin.
You can walk through and see the old stoves in the kitchens, the press for olive oil and the trees in the center still fruit with figs and pomegranates.
The design of the building is really ingenious, but you have to spend some time in one to really appreciate it.
The hallway leading to the coutyard in Kasbah Amridil.
I read somewhere that Morocco is a cold country with a hot sun. As it is beginning to be fall here, we have realized how cold it can be. Nights are approaching freezing while the day time is in the high 70’s.
In the kasbah, the four walls around the central courtyard allow the sun to stream in, but it’s never direct. Because of this, the courtyard stays cool during the day.
The structure absorbs heat throughout the day and cools over the course of the night. The living quarters are on each of the four corners. During the summer, families would sleep on the first floor where it is cool and use a fire in the center to for cooking so the heat did not warm the entire house.
They weren’t paying to heat the neighborhood after all, it was already hot.
During the winter, they cooked in each of the separate corners. As the heat from different fires warmed the buildings, the family would move the second or third floor where the heat rose.
On the top floor of Kasbah Amridil.
I guessed the man giving our tour was around my age. He was tall and dressed almost the same as me in skinny green cargo pants and a back top. Clearly, he had great fashion sense!
I thought about complimenting him on his outfit but didn’t think he’d get the joke. He told me I had eyes like his and that they were the color of the local women’s.
I then made the mistake of asking him how many wives men could have in a Kasbah and he told me a man with a bigger house can have four wives but that would depend on if they could afford to support them all.
“But for you, you be expensive wife.” He laughed, “you be 100 camel wife! Yes, yes, 100 camels, ok! You come with me!” he said, grabbing my hand and walking away from Marybeth as though we had struck a deal.
I also wondered if he told every tourist that comes around she’s a 100-camel type of lady.
After the tour, we took an afternoon camel ride around town. Cruising the drag, as one does in Morocco.
The tour guide walked along side us explaining the local school system, harvesting olives and interpreting for the camel owner who was walking out front. The camel owner was a hustler and kept piping up with unbelievable offers and telling us we needed to stay many more nights at his cousin’s hotel, “1-2-3 Sol! That’s the name, you come back, you stay there. They make a party every night.”
“You mean they rock the Kasbah?”
He didn’t get my reference.
“How old you are, 29?” the guide asked. I wondered how he guessed so well? Do I look exactly 29? I slept well last night so in my head I shouldn’t look a day over 27. Damnit.
“Yes, and you?”
“I am 29 also.”
Then it hit me, I hadn’t deactivated my Tinder profile. Crap. He’s probably seen it on there.
I’m just out, advertising to all the locals. I know that sounds paranoid, but a surprising number of people use Tinder here.
I’m guessing that’s probably not how a nice girl meets someone in small town Morocco. But then I reasoned, he did just estimate my worth at 100 camels.
I have to admit, 100 camels seemed like a pretty good deal.
As the afternoon wore down we packed our bags and paid our bill. A luxurious night in the Kasbah and dinner had set us back a whole $33 each.
Plus, I got a marriage proposal out of the deal – bargain priced! I hadn’t even needed to demonstrate my impressive table manners.
We loaded the camels with our backpacks and headed to the roadside to wait for our bus. Along the way, the camel man tried to take us on a detour. First, to his cousin’s hotel. I told him no.
“You sure? We make a party there every night.”
“Not this time, next time.”
Then he tried to take us to his family’s shop. I told him no, we had to get to our bus stop.
“Okay, okay but when you come back, you stay with me! 1-2-3 Sol!”
We parted with a bon voyage. Marybeth and I sat by the side of the road, waiting for our bus. Two sorry individuals headed to the desert, not a single camel to our names.
Waiting for the bus.