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Day 12: Monday, April 11, 2022 – Saffron and Argan

We leave our oasis behind.
Here is our vehicle driven by Larbi. Some days are through hot deserts and some days are windy narrow hairpin turns in the mountains.
I wonder what that might be like if traveling 52 days by camel … bandits, wells, oases, shade trees, wind storms, etc. The trip would include time for relaxing for a few days along the way and for daily prayers.

Watermelons are grown here and sent all over. They dig wells since watermelons use a lot of water. No more wells can be dug because it is depleting the water supply.

Taliouine is the capital of saffron. October is the month for harvesting and the flower blooms for only two weeks. Women harvest the flowers because they are patient and their fingers are delicate.

Saffron comes from the saffron crocus. I wonder if the crocus that we grow will produce a vibrant yellow color.

Saffron consists of the inside three strands, and one can determine that it is good if they are still connected.

The saffron bulb is planted in September.

There is one flower per plant which blooms once per year. The harvest occurs before sunrise and lasts for 1½ hours. Then the flower closes.

The soil and climate are ideal here for growing saffron, and it only grows here in Morocco. The saffron is watered once a week until April. It flowers after two years and will flower for seven years. The annual blooms last for two weeks in October. There is an international festival here on November 8. It is hard to imagine that a wide spot in the road can host an international festival.

We had tea with saffron. Saffron affects heart circulation by speeding it up. Apparently, there are many health benefits of saffron. One can only hope that a small amount goes a long way. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saffron#TOC_TITLE_HDR_9

Iran is the biggest producer of saffron followed by Morocco. Saffron is used for food AND for dyeing clothing, etc.

One should keep saffron in a closed glass jar. It will keep for five years. Do not store it in the refrigerator. When you want to use it, put the spice in a glass and pour hot water on it. After one hour, it is ready to use. This must be used within the day.

I saw this plant which reminded me of milkweed. Omar said that it was indeed a milkweed, specifically called giant milkweed. He told me that butterflies like it, but I didn’t see any evidence of that.

Giant milkweed is very scraggly with woody type stems but the large green leathery leaves give it away as milkweed.
A close up for my butterfly friends.

During Ramadan, doctors have a schedule of turns with other doctors so that they can care for their patients. Early morning, midday and late afternoon. Women who cannot fast because they are pregnant or breastfeeding will do so at a later date and time of year. They keep track and can fast years later. Those that are old or have an illness like diabetes must give more money to the poor.

We learned that there is a popular show called Ali Baba that is watched by everyone during their “breakfast”. It is Ramadan-based but is only during the month of Ramadan.

Many Moroccans move to the big cities but maintain a house in their villages where family members live in the family home and continue in agriculture and caring for animals. There are also big farms in the plains at the foot of the Atlas mountains. We followed this valley which runs from the mountains to the ocean.

Our stop for lunch.

Kasbah is an Arabic word that means fortress or citadel. It was certainly made popular by the musical group, The Clash, when they sang Rock the Kasbah. Another song is the Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits. Souk is a shop. The word medina means walls surrounding a city with gates.

Most Moroccan towns along the route are very conservative and authentic with Arabs and Berbers living peacefully together. Berbers could be considered an indigenous people of Morocco.

We drive through many argan tree forests. Apparently, the goats love to eat the nuts and leaves and will even climb up the trees to get them.

Look carefully to see the one way up high in the trees.
This 65-year-old man was riding on his donkey. He said that he would be willing to marry one of us if we had a lot of money!!

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