Arriving in Midelt in early afternoon everyone was pretty tired yet happy. We were welcomed with some warm Moroccan mint tea by the family we were to stay with and slumped on their sofas in the living room of their Auberge.
Midelt is a town in central Morocco, in the high plains between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas mountain ranges. With an estimated population of 44,780, Midelt serves as the commercial centre of a large agricultural hinterland. It is also one of Morocco’s principal cities for the mining of several minerals.
The town within Midelt that we visited is called Berrem, this was quite a traditional village with many lovely, sand-coloured buildings. It was great to get a glimpse into the locals general lifestyle & actually spend quality time with real people of Berber ethnicity. It was the happiest & most emotional day on this adventure for me. I do remember this place being exceedingly cold at night though and with about 5 heavy blankets Jon & I still couldn’t get warm (I could see my breath!) so if you go here in early March pack thermals! Like most people who visit Morocco, it sounds warm and spicy and coming from a dreary, damp and cold country like the UK where we have little no summer months and lots of rain you forget other countries get cold & rainy too because you want so much to escape to somewhere with better climate and make friends with the sun again! However Morocco has seasons just like most countries in the world, their summers are ridiculously hot and they have some pretty chilly winters, especially in the mountains. You can see from pictures on this blog that the mountains in the background have snow on them.
After our mint tea we were told to freshen up before we were to go on a walk. The family dog joined us and the walk was relaxing with breath taking views of the mountains in the distance.
By this time of our tour I had stopped reading our trip notes and therefore was going with the flow and did not know what to expect from being in Midelt. I honestly thought our group was going to spend a lot of time walking around the beautiful rough landscape to get a feel for wild open spaces again after being crammed like sardines in Fes. I did not know we were on our way to a Berber town to actually interact with local families and their children. This was a very emotional experience for me as it is something I have always wanted to do (and continue doing for the rest of my life in other countries) and I did not want to leave. Caitlin, Jon, a few others and myself stayed outside to interact with the children and the rest of the group went to sit inside a home with a local for some mint tea and a chat. At some point soon I hope to send gifts to the children via their local school, mainly educational & art supplies and I would love to go back there someday, perhaps as a visitor again or maybe as a volunteer at their school in the summer months.
After spending the afternoon with the children and their families we headed back to the Auberge for a hearty meal. We were supposed to have live music and entertainment as well but the traditional dancers didn’t turn up for whatever reason. We didn’t realise this until later but the staff decided to dress us up instead and we all danced the night away to amazing music played by Berber musicians. Everyone was blissfully happy and in a state of dancing euphoria and yet not one person drank any alcohol. To me, this is heaven as I don’t drink, I have never been drunk and dislike being around drunkards so you can imagine how happy I was to see everyone enjoying themselves without a drop of alcohol, this sort of happiness needs to encouraged in the UK as unfortunately the British tend to think you can’t be happy or have a good time or be yourself unless alcohol is involved. Moroccans are naturally very happy people and community based, some nights during this tour we were encouraged to dance, sing and play the drums around a warm fire to just celebrate life and this made my heart explode with so much love! One particular local at the Aurberge, a lovely older gentleman gently grabbed my hand to dance with me and with a cheerful smile said “You dance like Berber woman!” I was in shock and so happy, here is a local actually telling me I dance just like their women, I mean what a wonderful compliment for me as a Belly Dancer as I do try so hard to be authentic in my dance movements out of respect for traditional dances similar to Belly Dance and out of love for my own Romany ancestors, I do not want to be just another Western woman ‘trying’ to belly dance and not having a clue, I want to feel accepted by other cultures and integrate myself into their world through my dancing. It was a very special moment for me.
Before the night ended some of the women in our group asked me to teach them some Belly Dance moves for a bit of fun. I was a little hesitant at first as I am actually quite shy when I am not dancing but I gave it a go and taught them hip drops and the shimmy. Soon after that Louise grabbed me and pulled me back into the middle of the floor and coaxed me into doing a solo performance with the musicians which was hard for me because although I love to dance and I do get hired to perform at venues in the UK, I did not want to be the person who takes up the entire floor during a holiday as I am not attention seeking but with a gentle nudge from Louise and encouragement from the rest of the group cheering me on that gave me confidence to dance my little heart out and I truly hope they enjoyed my little solo. I can not believe I did a solo performance in Morocco!
This entire day was magical to me, I spent time with local children in Berrem and enjoyed an evening of dancing in traditional Berber attire to traditional Berber music, life can not get much sweeter than this. I was very sad the morning after when I had to leave, there will always be a place in my heart for Midelt and the people I met and if an opportunity arose for me to go back, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
After our day & overnight stay in Midelt our group jumped back into the mini van in the early hours of the morning and headed to the Sahara Desert for Camel Trekking in the dunes and an overnight stay at a Bedouin camp under the stars! This was also an unforgettable experience for both Jon & I So stayed tuned for next weeks post!