Life on the edge of the desert Downhill, south of the easternmost massif of the Great Atlas in Morocco, we advance along the river Ziz. The river advances, painting a bright green, the increasingly arid lands that are approaching the Sahara, between palm groves and small settlements.
Finally the water is swallowed and disappears between the sand and the rock in the small town of Rissani .
Here from remote times it is an essential stop on the trans-Saharan trade routes, where the caravans of the Sahel unloaded part of the gold and slaves.
Currently on market days (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday) the souk becomes a meeting point for a large part of the population of the region, an authentic celebration of colors, smells, tastes and textures flood the visitor, submerging him in a world unknown, entering fully into the daily life of a town that proudly preserves its tradition as the last commercial scale between civilization and the Great Desert.
The sun filters through the canopies that protect the souk, creating an almost unreal scenario. From the dawn they are installing the first positions. Entire sacks of spices of impossible colors, are opened and distributed among the merchants.
Trucks arrive full of watermelons, oranges, coconuts, dates …; some women dusted and placed on the shelves items of crafts, forge, brass, copper, silver and jewelry in another street we see the great exposure of carpets of different shapes, sizes and drawings.
A smell of freshly tanned leather fills the dark alley that leads to an area full of tiny shops. The leather dyed lime green giving shape to square “poufs”, yellow pompoms carefully sewn to fragile and soft fuchsia gloves. Shelves overflowing from the traditional “Adidas Berber”, the yellow slippers, with the rubber soles of recycled tire.
The call to the prayer of the muezzin announces the noon. We arrive at the part of the market where animals are bought and sold: goats, chickens, sheep … and finally the big market of donkeys, authentic means of transport and usual load in the area. We entered a huge meadow full of hundreds of donkeys and some men talking and negotiating.
A teapot on fire in every corner, in every stall or shop: the essential mint tea to start, or close any transaction.
A smoky chicken Tajin makes us recover our strength. Meanwhile, new cars arrive, trucks loaded with merchandise, rows of donkeys with children mounted and guided by people who live tens of kilometers away. A one-eyed man winks at me as he unloads gas cylinders, throwing them, as if they were the same watermelons that arrived in the market in the morning. Every moment in Rissani is an experience.