Sunday, July 19, Ouirkane Valley, Morocco

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Yesterday we drove out to this valley where we packed up our things on mules and headed up this road to our lodgings.
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Some of our group going down the mountain, Courtney on the far right, our guide front left.

We are about 90 minutes southwest of Marrakech now, in the Atlas Mountains. I can’t say we’re exactly roughing it. The food is great, the rooms are comfortable, the companionship is pleasant.

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The common room of our lodgings.

This morning we set out on a hike down that same road to a fairly remote village. What fascinated me was the salt manufacturing. It was as if we’d transported ourselves back 1,000 years. A well is dug near the river. At about 40 feet down there is a layer of soil that is highly sodic apparently. Since it’s near the river that is salty water down there. The villagers dip their leather buckets in the well and extract this water, which they fling into holding pens

Here's a man drawing water from his well.
Here’s a man drawing water from his well.
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Here are the holding pens. It takes about five days for the sun to evaporate the water leaving the salt residue.

They bag the salt and transport it to Marrakech for sale.

I noticed while we were there that there was an electrical transmission line directly above our heads. I wondered why they’d never used electricity to cut down on the manual labor and perhaps increase production; or perhaps get a small generator to help lift the water out of the well.

The economics of salt don’t allow for such, I was told. As a basic commodity it yields a very low price, hence it makes no sense to spend money on gasoline or generators or electricity. There’s no way to recoup the cost.

Thus these folks are doing things exactly as their grandparents and great grandparents did them.

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The finished product.
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Jerry Heverly

I'm a high school English teacher from San Leandro High School in California.

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