Luck=opportunity meets preparation. We’ve got it in spades. I think we’ve got incredibly lucky timing w/this tourism project. It seems like there are people coming out of the woodwork who are interested in visiting Ribat El Kheir on our Day Tour program. RPCV from Morocco sends out a request. Cynthia refers study abroad group. Randy sends meet group of knitters who are coming next week. The guide that Pete and his family are using this week gets lots of requests from his clients for day trips to the countryside. We’re averaging a group a week already. This has already brought amazing money to the women here in REK. Ham-du-li-lah!!! Oh, and I’ve updated the Adwal Coop’s website to reflect these new offerings. Check it out: http://adwalweaving.com
Thursday started on a high note. Amina (PC LCF) and one of the PC drivers came and picked up my bicyle and a couple bags of stuff for return to Rabat.We’re required to get our PC-issued bicycles back to Rabat for maintenance. Between passenger vans, grand and petit taxis and train-there’s no easy way to do this. I knew that Amina (my trainer in CBT) would be in the area to pay host families in Budrehm, and asked if she could come and get my bike. She did. Saved me a TON of time, money, and effort by picking it up here. God bless her parents. We had a chance to sit and chat a bit to catch up. She’s one of those who I just am not ready to say goodbye to. I know I’ll get back up to Fes for some goodbyes before I leave, and since she’s based there during training, I’ll see her there one more time.
Then I headed down to the Cooperative. Got Ferida and Nora back in front of the computer to load additional files from my USB. Daily exposure is good for their recall. In addition, Ferida and Fatima were cleaning up the showroom, so we decided to go ahead and bring their products in and set it up. I don’t know what happened to the money they were supposed to have in the grant to buy wall and floor shelves, but they need to work with what they got from Sefrou. I bought tablecloths when I was in Fes last week to cover the swiya tables so at least they look presentable and consistent. Finally there’s someplace where they can more professionally show and sell their products. First customers-Pete’s family. Shukran.
And the saga of the Day Tripper continued yesterday with Paul/Finley/Hassan/Lynn’s excellent adventure. Paul and Becky-expat friends in Fes-are hoping to open their renovated Fes medina riad/hotel in the spring. They are also passionate about bringing guests to the countryside, hopefully for day trips, where they return at night to their Fes-based hotel. Paul and Finley (their 3 y.o. son) came down yesterday to see the area. Since Paul’s got a LandRover Defender we could actually get to some places that are difficult to access w/o transport. I invited Hassan (Tourism Assn Pres.) along so they could get to know one another for future tourism planning. And just my luck, I was finally going to get to see the infamous Auberge up in the mountains. This lodge (sleeps 27 but in need of some repair) is fairly remote, owned by the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and available for use. Pete wants to work w/Hassan’s Assoc to bring kids up next summer for a camp. It’s also a great spot from which to hike all over the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Well, it was much more adventurous than just a ride into the mountains. The roads are not maintained and sketchy at best in many spots. After making our way to the Auberge and stretching our legs a bit, we decided to try to make it up to Ain Jeu. This is a natural spring above the Auberge and legend has it that if you drink its water, you’ll become hungry. So off we set-and with the Defender in full 4WD on rain-slicked mud and rocky ‘road’, we were slipping and sliding like a wild Disneyland E-ticket ride. Only we weren’t OSHA certified. A couple km up the road, we came to a rockslide that completely blocked our way. Tfoo! And there’s no backing down the road we just bounced up-likely to bounce right off the downhill side. Tfoo! It took about an hour of Paul and Hassan checking best spots, a couple of shepherds weighing in with their opinions, before Paul magically managed to turn the Defender around on a road that was NOT wide enough to do so, without careening off the cliff. I kept Finley occupied, safely out of the car and out of the way, and walked back down to the Auberge so Paul could control the descent w/o worrying about others (esp. Finley) in the car. I’m not sure who was more relieved when he got the Defender to the Auberge, but Hassan needed a cigarette! OK, so maybe it’s hiking only above the Auberge, yak?
By the time we were driving back to REK, the fog and low clouds had lifted, so we had good views all the way down-incl. through the beautiful cedar forest. Fortunately Finley was a star and slept most of the way back-not a peep out of him-despite no lunch either. God bless Paul’s parents and the Defender. Otherwise we’d still be walking back.