Ifrane - Zaouit Sidi Abdessalem is a quaint little village nestled into the side of a forested mountain about 8 kilometers outside of Ifrane.
Ifrane – Zaouit Sidi Abdessalem is a quaint little village nestled into the side of a forested mountain about 8 kilometers outside of Ifrane.
A winding road weaves from Ifrane through vividly green glades, shaded by tall trees draping down to touch a flashing river that flows beside the road for the entirety of the trip. Small coulees along the way provide flat, green areas that run down eagerly to greet the rustling river along the way providing perfect picnic spots. Patched in between the trees and river are neat squares of farmland, flashing the tops of carrots, potatoes, turnips, and tomatoes. As the road stretches up the hill, the cluster of cement and stone houses appear, a spot of warm earth tones in a nest of greens and dark browns from the scrub oak filling the hills nearby.
Once inside the village, a welcome resonates from the atmosphere and beckons one to explore through the simple pathways that connect the houses. Zaouit originates from one man and his family and nearly everyone has some connection to their neighbors. Today the village holds a small, emerald topped zaouia where many visitors come to pray and pay their respects to the father of Zaouit. Surrounding the huddle of houses, tall hills rise that provide hiking opportunities and stunning views of the countryside unfolding in waves of hills and snaking rivers.
Inside the town, the majority of houses contain a dark, cool caves that send out whispers of relief from summer heat and also serve as large refrigerators or storage rooms. The caves are vestiges of homes from the original settlers of Zaouit, and today serve as the center for modern homes. Some houses hold caves with Tifinagh writing and pictures, which is the script of the Berbers and now fading into oblivion. The caves hold a lot of appeal, both practical and archaic. Moving through the town reveals a calm bustle of women going to the local hanuts (stores), men driving sheep through the town to pasture, and small children jostling one another in play.
A leisurely walk from the center of town leads through a bright forest with mossy rocks peppering the stream cutting through the soil. The stream pulls until it reaches a rushing waterfall that plunges into a clear pool. Seeping into this pool is a refreshing spring that provides fresh drinking water to quench thirsts of people and animals alike. Staged around the cascade and swimming hole nearby are gallant horses bedecked in colorful saddles and bridles, fringes and embellishments catching the sunlight. Each horse offers a smooth and exciting ride through the trees for any willing participant and a small price.
Nighttime affords a clear view of sparkling stars, and many available houses to enjoy a steaming cup of tea with warm harsha, which is a bit like cornbread. The silence is penetrated by the murmur of the nearby river, the fluttering of leaves in a gentle breeze, dogs communicating with one another, winding down another day in the country. A visit to Zaouit Sidi Abdessalem will leave one well-fed, satisfied with a simpler life, refreshed, and yearning to return quickly.
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