Who Are The Morocco Berbers?

Who Are The Morocco Berbers?

Traveling in Morocco, you are bound to trip across one of the most defining characteristics of the country – the Berbers. As the original inhabitants of Morocco, they are rightly proud of the contributions they have made in shaping the country. With a unique language and culture, the Berbers stand out as one of last bastions of tradition in an ever-modernizing society; while even the oldest villagers now happily chat on cell phones, they do so in a tongue almost impenetrable to anyone from the outside world.

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The Ashura Festival in Morocco

The Ashura Festival in Morocco

The Ashura Festival in Morocco (often spelled: “achoura”) is truly a festival for kids… and kids at heart! Kids all get new toys, as well as the staple Darbuka (a goblet drum) and Berrada (a clay piggy bank). Kids go from playing music and eating healthy treats, like fakia, to playing with water.

But there is so much more to the Ashura Festival in Morocco than just drums and toys! Ashura is a perfect example of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition in Morocco, deeply rooted in values of tolerance and coexistence.

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Road Trip to Ouazzane

Road Trip to Ouazzane

It’s a common refrain heard around the world: “It’s not easy being green.” In bright contrast to the Kermit dirge bemoaning the color green, the hillside town of Ouazzane, Morocco celebrates green. Greens of every tone are splashed across the medina walls and reflected in the fields and olive groves that surround the town. So, if you find yourself in this hillside medina on the edge of the Rif Mountains, the fact remains: It’s easy being green! Consider a road trip to Ouazzane! (more…)

Listen to This! Moroccan Music You Can Download

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For nearly every traveller to Morocco, one of the biggest highlights is listening to live Moroccan music. From the performers jamming in Marrakesh’s famous square, Jemma el-Fnaa every night, to the Gnawa beats pulsing in the desert… one thing is for certain, Moroccan music will set beat to your time in Morocco. But what if you’re stuck at home or on a plane? What is the best Moroccan music you can download? (more…)

Book Review: Lords of the Atlas

Lords of the Atlas book coverLords of the Atlas is prefaced, like many histories, with markers that help orient the reader in the world they are about to enter: a chronology of events, a genealogical chart for tracking names and lineage, a map of tribal territories. What sets apart this historical account is the adept blending of the political with the personal.

The rise and fall of one of modern Morocco’s most powerful families dovetailed with the tumultuous years of colonialism and independence, and the microcosm of world politics being acted out on the Moroccan stage. Author Gavin Maxwell never loses sight of the people involved in the theater of the “Moroccan Question.” Much like the oft-quoted Walter Harris, this book brings the personalities into the power politics at play. Against a landscape of dates, successions, treaties and conquests, Maxwell paints for us portraits of the individuals involved, and the result is a compelling narrative of ambition, loyalty, ego and mortality. (more…)

Visiting a Tannery in Fez

Traveling to Morocco, the ancient city of Fez and its medina can feel very foreign indeed. The walkways wind up and down through the hilly city, too narrow for cars or all but the slimmest of carts and carriages. The medina is much like it was hundreds of years ago; the pace and structure of life still follow the old rhythms. You can feel the age of the medina—and its history—with each step. Nowhere is this truer than in Fez’s tanneries.

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A Night in Marrakesh’s Place Djemaa el-Fna

Henna in marrakesh moroccoIf you’ve read even a little bit about Marrakesh prior to your tours to Morocco, you probably know that this cultural hub is bursting with activity, especially in Place Djemaa el-Fna, the city’s main square. For a first-time visitor, approaching the clamor of the square at sunset can feel disorienting. To survey the bustle before joining it, consider starting the evening with a terrace dinner.

Terrace restaurants surround the square, and most specialize in the traditional multi-course spread of salad, tajine or couscous and whole fruit dessert. You’ll pay a bit more to dine here than you would at ground level, but the balcony seating is absolutely worth the extra dirhams.

West of the square, the modestly lit minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque seems to mark a main entrance where a continuous current of silhouettes migrate toward the festivities. Motorbike headlights sprinkle the crowd, weaving through the shadows like dancing fireflies.

Following the migratory path leads your eye to long rows of dinner vendors under a cloud of steam. Though fuzzy from a distance, wandering toward the wafting scents of cumin later in the evening takes you down countless aisles lined with vendors on one side and tent-covered seating on the other. (more…)

Music of Morocco

Music of Morocco

The music of Morocco is as diverse and as culturally rich as its people. Styles vary from region to region and are greatly influenced by the region’s ethnic groups and cultural heritage. Depending where you visit you will hear the classical Arab-Andalusian music, the folk music of the Berber people, Gnawa and the popular music styles of Rai and Chaabi. Head to the bottom of this post for some Moroccan music you can download and enjoy at home or on your own Moroccan road trip! (more…)

Traditional Tribes of Morocco

Spend any amount of time in Morocco, and you’re bound to trip across one of the most defining characteristics of the country, the Berbers. As the original inhabitants of Morocco, they are rightly proud of the contributions they’ve made in shaping the country. With a unique language and culture, the Berbers stand out as one of last bastions of tradition in an ever-modernizing world.

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So Much Moroccan Culture

Morocco is comprised of a melting pot of different cultural backgrounds. The most popular cultural background is Arab-Berber descent. Many of the modern Berber tribes reside deep in the mountain and desert regions that make up the outskirts of Morocco. These are the friendliest people a visitor could hope to come across in these regions.

For many years, Islam has been the dominant religion in Morocco. As modern times approached, this began to change. Mixed in among this are an estimated 100,000 Christians of French descent and 8,000 Jews. The Jewish community resides primarily in Casablanca and Marrakech. (more…)