Day 4 – CELL: Morocco

Today was a great adventure. We left our Riad at 10am to visit the infamous Eureka falls (Oulrika Valley) in the Atlas Mountains. The Riad had kindly organised a private car to take us to the mountains, which is about a 90min drive from the city of Marrakech. We loaded ourselves with a huge breakfast and large bottles of water for the journey.

There are seven waterfalls in total, however we managed to climb up the mountains to see the second waterfall!  We know you’re thinking ‘only the second?’, but trust us, it was high up into the skies and we really wanted to go on and see the rest of Marrakech instead of being stuck thousands of metres up a mountain we were too scared to climb down.  Many local Moroccans usually visit the mountains on a family day out.  The site gets very busy on a Sunday and most people dip into the natural swimming pool to cool down.  As you drive towards the mountains, there are many restaurants, bars and shops to buy food and souvenirs.

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On the way to the mountains we stopped by a small Berber village; Al Haouz where the women produce argon oil. A young lady by the name of Lama took us around the compound and told us about how a group of 50 women (friends and neighbours) in the village work in this compound to produce and sell 50 different products using argon oil. Their organisation is a community enterprise called Chez Aitma Sens, which means brothers and sisters.

Each one of the 50 women make one product within their home by hand that takes between 2-3 hours. There are a range of hair, beauty and cooking oil products that are made and only sold in the village.  After the beauty products are made a sample bottle from each batch is sent to Marrakech to be tested.  The products’  bottles and the labels are bought and printed in Marrakech.  The price range of products is from 150 – 500 MAD.  All the money made stays within the community for the families.

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As there were no jobs in the village and the women were left at home whilst the men went to work, the corporation was set up to engage and empower the women.  Each woman has to make one litre of oil in 3 days. Lama explains that it’s a long process to produce the oils by hand.  All the products are 100% natural with no chemicals or additives.

After we got back to the city we went to visit Le Jardin Majorelle, a garden owned by the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.  The garden is filled with huge palm trees, cactuses and various other plants.  There is a memorial for YSL, a Berber museum, library, cafe, boutique and a ‘Love’ gallery that displays YSL’s drawings over 3 decades.

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