Two hour’s drive brought us back to the water source that feeds a long, fertile valley stretching many miles. We were visiting Meski to attend part of the wedding of the daughter of one of the DD guides. As soon as we arrived. Ben, the local entrepreneur offered to take our dirty laundry for his wife to wash and I was delighted to hand him a large bag of dirty, smelly clothes.
We went along to Ben’s shop where I bought a large black and silver scarf which I thought would jazz up my plain dress at the wedding. As we were getting ready to leave a young man offered to tie my new scarf Berber style. He twisted and tucked for a minute or so and then I found myself looking more like a local than a tourist. At seven o’clock we walked up some steep steps to the village where we were shown the house with a colourful marquee on one side and a smaller marquee upstairs on the flat roof of the house.
We were shown to tables in the lower marquee where we were served a delicious meal of bread with a colourful salad of grated carrot, cucumber, olives and apples. The next course was whole oven baked chickens stuffed with spicy noodles, followed by fresh fruit and mint tea. We tourists then moved to the other side of the marquee whilst the men and boys were served the same meal – they ate theirs far more quickly than we did. We then walked up to the roof marquee where there was a band playing and in one corner was a large gold and silver coloured throne which was to be the seat of the bride and groom. By this time it was after eleven o’clock and we decided it was bed time and we headed back to the camper. Some of our party stayed on and eventually the women and children appeared with the bride and groom. The bride and groom finally appeared after midnight; she was very young and they said she looked terrified. The music continued into the early hours.
The following morning we were taken on a walking tour of the village. Our guide was, you guessed, Ben! As it was a Sunday there were a lot of children about, the smaller ones peeping shyly from the safety of their doorways, running away as soon as you looked at them. The adults were reluctant to have their photo taken and turned away or covered their faces if they saw a camera pointing at them.
Ben ended his tour by taking us to his house, from the outside it looked pretty poor but inside was a delightful shaded courtyard garden with bamboo lined ceilings and tiled floors. The house felt cool after the heat of the dusty streets. We went up to the roof terrace and there was our washing, hanging out to dry! This was returned to us later in the day neatly folded. Ben’s daughter, Miriam (aged about eight) helped her father serve mint tea, honey and sesame cake, olive bread drizzled with olive oil, salted peanuts and sticky dates. We left Ben’s house loaded with 2 kgs of his dates and 2 litres of his olive oil and Ben was 500 dirums richer (about £40)