Cats in Morocco

After my trip to Morocco when I sat down to go through photos, I realized the things I saw the most…I photographed the least. One of those things was sheep. The other cats. In Fez and Marrakesh in particular, felines huddled in the protection of doorways safe from the feet of tourists and locals, and the hooves of burdened mules. They skirted rooftops and lazily lounged on ledges, roofs, and in shady nooks and crannies. Honestly, cats were everywhere. My subconscious must have picked up that fact, which accounts for the few feline photos that did make it home. Quality photos they are not! Click to make them larger.

BlackCatIn the Atlas Mountains, the cats played at dusk in the shrubs and wild flowers at the kasbah. This black cat maneuvered from bush to bush, blending in well. Its gorgeous yellow eyes matched the yellow of leaves and flowers (right).

ClimbingCatIn a narrow residential lane in Rabat, we encountered a gray tabby moving from its over-the-door perch and down a steep wall (left). The landing turned out to be quite dramatic. Good thing cats have nine lives. It made us wonder why the cat chose to jump instead of use the oleander next to it, which is most likely the way it climbed up.

DoorCat

This doorway cat is a smaller version of mine. It even shares a similar perturbed expression(right).

While this fountain is no longer functioning in the medina, I can imagine that at one time the drizzle of water would have been the perfect Fez drinking and gathering place for felines (below).

FountainCat

LeatherShopKitAs we stood inside a leather shop in Fez that overlooked the leather vats, a tiny kitten played on a bench near us (left).

WellCatOn an old wooden wheel in Rabat, a cat nestled in the shade (right).

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Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco

Imagine a hotel so remote a mule carries your luggage up a mountainside from the nearby “big” town. Welcome to the Kasbah du Toubkal.

Kasbah du Toubkal

Our driver dropped us off at the hotel “office” in a town at the bottom of steep hills in the High Atlas Mountains. The door was carved from local wood and the stones fronting the building are from the mountains that surrounded us. You can’t see my hiking boots, but I’m about to need them.

Checking into the Kasbah in the High Atlas Mountains

The tiny main street has vendors that collect supplies from vans, cars, or mules. One vendor stands outside his shop, wearing a djelaba (pronounced without the “d” sound at start of word) over his clothes.

Town near Kasbah du Toubkal

Once we “checked in,” they flagged down a passing donkey (or mule) and loaded up our suitcases (we traveled with bigger bags for the extended vacation and varied climates- no more backpacking as in younger days). A note here about mules and donkeys. In Morocco, they were about the same size, whereas my husband remembers from his grandfather’s farm in Georgia, that the mules there were substantially larger than donkeys.

Loading luggage for the trek up to the kasbah.

We followed the backside. . .ahem. . .we followed our luggage up a winding street and continued as it turned into a rocky trail up a hillside.

Bell Boy (?)

Eventually we reached the Kasbah du Toubkal clinging to the mountainside. A wide wooden gate was opened and our luggage offloaded. Berber kasbah staff carried it into a courtyard of stones steps amid a tiny oasis of wildflowers and lawn.

Kasbah du Toubkal Courtyard

The evening we arrived, a cool fog hung over the mountains and draped into the valley.

Evening view from rooftop terrace of kasbah

Our small but comfortable room is beneath the large pot you see on the roof. The very thick mud walls would keep anyone warm or cool no matter the weather.

Our room off the rooftop deck of kasbah.

The kasbah was rebuilt on a caid’s old home site in a joint venture between Europeans and the local Berber village. From the kasbah terrace outside our room, you can see the Berber village over my husband’s shoulder. Note the satellite dishes on the village dwellings. Electricity reaches almost everywhere in Morocco now. I can tell you the most watched programs are the “football” games. Before we arrived in Morocco the state soccer team had been playing poorly. Our driver claimed they were “cats” not the “lions” as they were known. Before we left, they had a big victory and were once again worthy of being called lions.

Berber village next to kasbah.

Stay tuned for the next blog on how to do a picnic “Berber style” in the mountains.