The weekly souq days in Ifrane are Saturday and Sunday. Vendors from around the area come to sell fruits, vegetables, olives, spices, housewares, used clothes, toilet paper and anything else a body could need. I usually ride my bike to the other side of town to the large field where the souq is held and stock up on my weekly necessities. This weekend, though, I missed the souq and so stuffed myself into a grand taxi and rode to Azrou, the next town over. Their souq day is on Tuesday and much, much more extensive than the Ifrane souq.
Weighed down by kilos and kilos of produce and a tasty lunch shared with a family I’m friends with in Azrou, I made it back to the grand taxi station to head back to Ifrane. En route, I had the taxi driver stop and pull over so I could buy some cherries from a stand. (For some reason they weren’t selling cherries at the souq).
There, I found a sad lonely puppy on the side of the road. It was raining and the poor girl looked so pathetic. The cherry seller kept pushing me take her since I kept cooing at it, saying that she had no owner. The final nail in the coffin was, “if you don’t take it, it is going to die”.
So I took it. It rode on my lap in the taxi back to Ifrane, dozing off and on. There was an older couple in the back seat, and they were quite shocked I had taken this animal, until the driver one quoted a passage from the Quran, saying that it is our duty as humans to care for the plants and creatures of the earth.
I should describe here what I’ve noticed in regards to the the relationship between most Moroccans and animals, dogs in particular.
I’ve been told that there exists a hadith that states that angels won’t enter rooms where there is a dog. This is one reason why a lot of Moroccans don’t keep dogs as pets, and the fact that most Moroccans have a very functional attitude toward animals. Dogs, donkeys, sheep, goats, and cows are all meant to either work or be eaten.
The puppy stayed with me in the apartment for a few hours. I bought some meat for it, let it drink, take a nap, and played with it for a bit when it had recovered. I extracted some ticks on her belly and ears and she piddled on my rug, and I knew it was time to find a permanent home for her. I was already starting to get attached, and it is impossible right now for me to own and train a puppy.
I found a box, strapped it onto the back of my bike, and brought her out to a small village 20 minutes outside of Ifrane.
The women of this village weave rugs and have tried to set up a cooperative. They have experienced too many difficulties setting up an official organization, so the only way customers know about these women and their beautiful rugs are though word of mouth. The women are in contact with a professor at Al Akhawayn who occasionally brings groups of visitors and students, and Lotfi, a friend from Azrou. The first time I visited the village was with Lotfi and my parents, brother and sister. It is always a bit hectic, choosing a weaving from the dozens and dozens spread out on the ground, then announcing the name of the woman that made the weaving you want, and paying the woman directly for her work. Since then I’ve taken every visitor that has come through Ifrane. I’ve slowly gotten to know the woman in charge, Ito, and she’s often invited my visitors to stay for tea and homemade bread.
When I arrived, Ito was shaking a large, metal closed cylinder, making butter. After a warm welcome, I offered the puppy, also asking if there was another family that could take her if she didn’t want it. Ito seemed pleased to take it, saying that her youngest son loved animals and would be delighted with the puppy. She invited me to stay for dinner, and made me say which day next week I’d come back to stay a night with them.
I’ll make my way back to the village next Wednesday to stay with Ito and her family. Though I’ve been there multiple times with visitors interested in buying weavings, I still feel overwhelmed by her warmth and welcome. I’m excited to learn more about her family, village and weaving project.