We rose to a quiet day with the sun beaming down on us. It was to be the last time of silence that morning.. it’s souk day!! It’s Thursday Souk in Khemis Sidi Yahya and as Jalil and Wafae needed to buy a few things, we tucked up into the car with them and set off…. and stumbled into an entirely different world. Not Narnia as we know it!
A world where everything is for sale and every wish for a bargain fulfilled around each corner of the flapping plastic stalls.
The noise of donkeys braying, horses pulling carts as they clip clop across the concrete, owners shouting, stall owners calling their wares, spice scents filling the air, screaming children kicking a football, metal spoons clanging on pots, fish sizzling as it hits the pan, popcorn popping, peanuts roasting, voices haggling for a better deal and all the while the quiet chink of coins changing hands.
Freshly popped popcorn was warm in our hands and intensely salty grey-white salt, freshly panned and in a knotted plastic bag each for MAD1 (€0.10) were our purchases for that morning along with a some gentle probing for a price for charcoal. Selling at a bargain for only MAD5 per kilo and the price stored away for a future purchase.
Then back to the estate where in sharp contrast, we heaved a sigh, shook our shoulders to relax and spent a quiet, peaceful, cool hour with Jalil and Wafae as they introduced us to their company. Their brand new, stainless steel, spotlessly clean machinery standing in enormous sheds, silent as they wait for parts to enable them to fire up the bottling plant. And hectolitres of wine stored away in vats from the last 2 years worth of picking just waiting for their license to start bottling and selling.
We tasted some really good wines. The white, a Sauvignon Blanc a little fruitier than we expected but a real throw-back to one of our favourite white wines from Spain, Alberino. The rose not our favourite. But the 3 reds that we tasted, they should be proud of: 2019 Merlot, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, and 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrrah blend, and my personal favourite, all good enough to buy….. when their license comes through and they can sell.
We had decided on another meal from Jalil and Wafae – how could we not with such amazing hospitality – they are so kind and so welcoming and had done so much for us that it was the least we could do.
Beef brochette barbecued over vine wood with salad and bread and the delightful cheese with our wine.
As the sun set over the Hacienda, the sky was filled with intense blacks to blues fading into yellows, oranges and reds that can only come from the magic of Saharan dust.
And after a hot shower, a shave and with clean hair, we were off to bed to dream under a star-filled Moroccan sky.