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Warm Hearts and Roman Columns

Studying the guidebook amongst the ruins of Volubilis

Before heading off to Rabat from Meknes to sort out our Mauritanian Visa situation, we wanted to take a quick trip out to Moulay Idriss and Volubilis.

Moulay Idriss is a town which is named after one of the most honoured saints in all of Morocco, who also happens to be the creator of the first Arab dynasty. The tomb of Moulay Idriss is still here, right in the heart of the town.

We arrived in town via Grand Taxi. This basically means that we waited at a taxi stand in Meknes for this old Mercedes to stuffed full with 4 more passengers after us, and then headed 30kms North to Moulay Idriss for 20 Dirham ($2.50 CDN).

An Empty Grand Taxi - by www.iamindisposed.com


We arrived in Moulay, and planned on checking out one of the BnBs there. Before roaming the streets aimlessly, we stopped at the first cafe we saw to have a coffee and sort ourselves out.

Quick sidenote – cafes in Morocco are strange. They are frequented 100% by men. Seriously, I don’t think we have seen a Moroccan woman in one of the local cafes yet. Understandably, it doesn’t always make Shawna feel terribly comfortable. It just seems to be a cultural thing. This is not where Moroccan women tend to meet. The other different thing, is that the chairs are never facing each other at the table…they always face the street. But I suppose that is where all the action is taking place.

I digress – as we are drinking our cafe noir and Coke Lite, one of the guys working there comes to talk to us, and wants to know if we are looking for a place to stay. In Morocco, this usually leads to us being taken to a nearby hostel or riad where this guy then gets a commission for bringing us in. Hence, we try to always give the impression that we already have things cased.

This time however, the man, Moulay Ali, asked if we would like to stay with his family for the night.He had a wife, Imam, and 4-year old daughter, Rita, and lived nearby…the gesture was incredible, and so we went.

Shawna with hosts Moulay Ali & Imam

...and Rita!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is nothing to see in Moulay Idriss. It is, from our experience nothing more than a launching pad for Volubilis, but regardless we had a really special day with this incredible family. They opened up their home to us, fed us, and presented Shawna with a stunning djellaba as a gift (it’s what she is wearing in these pics!). There was a small language barrier, as Ali spoke intermediate English, and Imam none at all, but it wasn’t terribly necessary. Their thoughtfulness wasn’t anything which needed to be translated.

The next morning we said goodbye, and jumped in another grand taxi, which took us 4kms to Volubilis, the Roman Empire’s most remote base. What we were looking at were the remains of the Roman provincial capital, with most of the ruins being from the second and third century AD.

An amazing place, most definitely worth a couple of hours of touring. There is enough left of the ruins to really envision what these homes would have been like. That morning we didn’t feel like we were in Morocco at all.

So what turned out to be a casual sidetrip, with fairly neutral expectations actually morphed into an amazing experience with locals, and a better-than-imagined Moroccan history lesson.

Volubilis



Glad we jumped in that grand taxi…
.

Next stop, Morocco’s capital city of Rabat!

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2 Responses to “Warm Hearts and Roman Columns”

  1. Dale October 26, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    The ruins there look awesome. AND you appear to have the place to yourselves to boot. Now that is sweet. Reminds of some ruins the guys from Departures visited in Libya, preserved yet no tourists to speak of. How great to get invited for a home visit as well – memories.
    Dale recently posted..Mountain Biking Without The Mountain – Destination Waskesiu

    • Skott and Shawna October 26, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      I think that might be more strategic photography than anything. There were definitely a few other tour groups roaming through the place, but we tried to pretend they weren’t there….hopefully that is how we can remember it as well!!

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