Monday, 29 December 2008

Excursion to Ouled Mgatel

Despite the heavy rains, despite our very busy schedule, despite the fact that our car doesn’t like the dirt roads, the mud, the rocks, we had to go back to Ouled Mgatel one last time before going back to France for Christmas.

The main reason was this :



We had to return the cats to their beloved Ouled Emgatel – because they missed so much  Bachir, Fouad, and the thousand insects living in the house and in the garden.


So we put the cats in a box, we put the box in the car, and we left Fez for our country.


We realized that we wouldn’t be able to drive to our house. The road was wet, often covered with mud.


The car was parked on the top of the hill, Fred grabbed the box with the cats inside, and we walked down the path that leads to our house.


And, despite the rain, despite our life that, despite our car, that often grows tired to bring us here, Ouled Mgatel is still generous with us.


Like this path.


And this agave.


This fava bean field.


Those olive trees, that moutain.

And even this fig tree, changed by winter,

and this beautiful empty house

welcomed us, soothed us. 

(Of course, on our way back to Fez, the car got stuck in the mud - but the children of Ouled Mgatel, and their teachers, helped us out.)



Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Famous !

People in the street tell him they love him.

People recognize him, wherever we go.

His Facebook will soon explode...

And this week I got plenty of new reader who found their way to my blog by googling his name.

And why, you ask me?

Because of that. And if you live in Morocco, or if you have 2M Monde, you can watch it too, Friday afternoon.

So when you’ll see him in the street, you’ll recognize him too…

Fred playing at the Fez festival

12/21 : and what happened Friday when we went back to France?

We took a taxi in Fez, and the driver recognized Fred.

At the airport, the policeman who checked the passeports recognized Fred.

And in the plane? Well, of course, the steward recognized Fred.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

How it began

How did all of this begin ?

Let me see… I don’t remember very well… It was at least 6 years ago…

There was a boy, Frédéric –you already know him.

And he loved Arabic music. He had studied the ‘ud for many years, and there was even a time when he travelled for 10 hours each Wednesday just to learn it from one of its masters.

And there was the ‘ud master, Marc – you don’t know him, but please, take a look to what he’s done. Fabulous music.

A few decades ago, the ‘ud master was working in the French cooperation, as a teacher, in Morocco. He spent a few years in Fez. Since then he’s travelled in many places, and learned many intruments.

And the student was fascinated by the master. And fascinated by the city : Fez.

And there was a girl, Marie – well, me, obviously.

I loved – and still do – Arabic music too. I even learned to play to ‘ud. Not with the master though, I wasn’t good enough – and anyway he lived too far away from my city.

There were also people in Nancy, our city, friends, Algerians, and Moroccans.

And then there was Nancy, and the « rue Saint Nicolas ». A magical street, with oriental bazaars, Moroccan stores, and Turkish restaurants – well, not so magical, the restaurants...

And the boy had several jobs, but he liked none of them.

And because of all that, he left, one day, with his backpack, for Fez.

And then, for me, there were several trips to Fez – getting to know the city, picturing me living here. I loved this rooftop in the medina.

One day, I left too. I am not a musician like Fred – I am a teacher, and was able to find a job very quickly.

And then, or maybe before, we met Yassin.

He was living in Fez, in the medina. But both his father and his mother were born in Ouled Mgatel. They were cousins – the perfect marriage in Islam. Yassin’s family still lives in Ouled Mgatel – they are our neighbors now.

And one day he brought Fred to Ouled Mgatel. And Fred fell in love with the place.

Me too.

At this point, I could go on for hours. Because the story is still long. You see, we built the house very slowly.

What I just told you... was for us the easy part.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Week-end in Ouled Mgatel

For the first time in three weeks, we're going back to Ouled Mgatel. Happy, of course (it's so cold in Fez... and our new appartment in only ok) but also a little bit worried. Because of the road (it's been raining a lot lately), and also because our water pump and our battery have decided to let us down... The water pump, of course, that can only be found in France (yes, a special pump for our special house). So that's good that we're spending Christmas there. In the meantime... candles, bottles, and bottles !

Have a good week-end !

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The last night

Finally. We found an appartement in Fez (but we're not leaving Ouled Mgatel, never). It's close to where I work, and it's cheap.

So... Goodbye hotel.

And I spent my last night...

... around here...

... next to him...

... behind this...

... the last night...

... the last time.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

And in Ouled Mgatel

… everything is just fine.


The cabbages, the lettuces, the trees and the cats are growing.

There is snow on the (faraway) mountains.

The house is not too damaged.

And the small dog that had swallowed our cat Mioche was kind and spat him out. In one piece. And alive.


Nothing to complain about, really.

(except  about the road…)

Sunday, 2 November 2008

If I had wings

I am stuck in a hotel in Fez (not the nicest hotel by the way), and I have to go to work (can you imagine ?). The rain won’t stop and keeps me far from home.

But my mind often wanders north of the city, in Ouled Mgatel.

And if I had wings, maybe I would see…

the turkeys bossing everybody

a gecko haunting the house at night

the silent inhabitants of the garden do their job

the cabbages and the lettuces I sowed before the rain grow, grow…

our little neighbor and his sheep, too close to our house if you ask me (they love our garden)

and the cat Mioche, of course, being his own self.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

No road leads to my dream house

My house… you should know it by now...

A dream house if you ask me. Olive trees and beautiful landscape.

Everything white.

Everything made by us, and by our friends.

A house that took us 2 years of our life, but not so much money.

A house that IS our life.

And then  the stupid flood happened.

Our house was damaged, but we fixed it.

The road, though… was partly destroyed.

And I should tell you about the road- it’s not really a road. It’s just made of sand and rocks.

It’s been covered in mud, and the tractors didn’t help. They made big holes in the road. And we can no longer go to our house with our car when it rains.

So what can we do?

Build another road?


For 4 weeks now, it’s been raining in Morocco like it hasn’t in 30 years. In the south and in the north of the country, dozens of people have died, drowned or struck by lightning.
Here in Ouled Jamaa, by the Oued Sebbou, numerous houses have been flooded.
And worse – according to the meteorologists, more heavy rains are expected in the next weeks.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Too far away from Ouled Mgatel

I haven’t been feeling like blogging lately… Too much work, too much time spent far from the house, and too much rain. Among other things. Please, bear with me. I’ll give you more news soon, I promise.

Meanwhile, in Ouled Mgatel, it’s time for the olives to be gathered…

Sunday, 5 October 2008


That’s what happens here when it rains after months of hot summer… beautiful grass for the hungry sheep.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

After the flood - pictures

When we got back from Fez last Saturday, the thunderstorm came with us…

And look how my feet were when we arrived home. We’d left the car at a neighbor’s, because the dirt road leading to our house is no longer a road when it rains.

I honestly thought at this time that the week end couldn’t get worse.

But it did. By raining, raining, raining, thundering, etc.

The day after, the landscape had changed…

The house too...

The torrent that was born had already died.

The roads had partly disappeared...

But of course, the dog Lisa, that follows us everywhere (but is not so fast that she can go to Fez with us), was happy, as always.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

After the flood

Strange morning in Ouled Emgatel… Three violent thunderstorms flooded the countryside. Something crazy, especially at this time of year. A raging torrent appeared by our house. No harm done though.

The house suffered a little.

Water began to come through the walls (ok, here you’re supposed to fix your house every year, in august, but we haven’t done it yet…), and I freaked out. I was already picturing the collapse of our house.

And if it wasn’t enough, the ceiling became jealous of the oozing wall, and began to leak.

We didn’t sleep well.

When we opened the door Monday morning, the devastation was visible. Our house had changed a lot during this night.

Not so white anymore. 

I took pictures  of course, but since I forgot the cable of my camero at home (and since we are waiting for the mud to dry to go home), I don’t have any pictures to show you for now. 

But you can try to picture it. It’s not that difficult. Remember, the key word  here is : MUD.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


They’re back.

Ready to invade our house again.

They won’t be chased again, they seem to have decided.

They’ve been staring at us for hours.


But the cat won't let us down.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Bare Feet Souk

How to buy cheap furniture in Fez ? You can go to the Mellah souk, or to Bab Ftoh. But the most secret place is the Bare Feet Souk – Souk l Hafa.

And that’s where we went – and that’s where we got lost.

Souk l Hafa is the last home of all orphan, broken, and forgotten furniture of Fez.

The last home, that is, if nobody takes pity of a dresser or of a table and buys it.

In certain alleys, it seems very unlikely that it will ever happen.

Elsewhere, a succession of deserted and touching bedrooms.

When we finally found what we wanted – a cupboard for our kitchen -, we made an unexpected encounter...

Souk l Hafa is in Bendebbab, a neighborhood in Fez. If you liked it, take a walk in the rural souk of Qaria Ba Mohammed.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A Glass of Tea in Ouled Mgatel

Tea glasses, teapots, and trays. Made from the gray earth of the fields of Ouled Mgatel.

A lot of teapots in fact – those kids must have been very thirsty when they made this tiny tea set. Watching the cows and the sheep can get very dull.

Do you want to take a closer look ?

And since wishes are often granted in Ouled Mgatel, real glasses of milk with apple juice and real cookies were soon served.

And when the little shepherds play, their herds scatters in the fields.

Read more about those children.