Day-1 Arrival in a lush garden
Welcome to Souhad organic farm. It dominates the largest dam in Morocco and around it are the pre-Rif mountains. The beauty of the landscapes makes this family cottage a unique place. The farm's cuisine mixes regional specialties with those from the city of Fez, famed for its excellent ancestral cuisine. All the ingredients are grown on the farm or are sourced locally; traditional and organic. The farm practices polyculture and mixed livestock. The bread is baked daily in the traditional oven.
The family has two main objectives. Maintaining good agricultural practices without using chemicals, and developing solidarity tourism in the region whilst still respecting local customs and traditions.
Day-2 Hand building
First, we will prepare clay, aduka.
The preparation of clay is a necessary step. Clay made by our own hands becomes precious. It is a question of crushing, sifting and preparing the earth by mixing it with water and grog (clay which has been fired then ground up) until a certain plasticity threshold is reached.
Seated on the ground, we will begin to build our pieces: using both hands and a selection of tools: flat discs, chekaf, and spatulas, mechta, all made of wood. You will mainly use three techniques: coiling, modelling and the "plates" technique.
The gestures of the potter are precise and she has practiced them since childhood. This know-how was transmitted by her mother, or sometimes by her mother-in-law.
Day-3 Hand building
We will continue to model, again and again, to learn these subtle gestures.
The pieces are then placed outside to dry to prepare them for the next step: polishing.
Day-4 Local market & polishing
We will spend the morning at the local souk. It is an essential phase to discover the local culture.
The pieces are then polished by the potter before cooking because the clay is very porous. We will polish our parts using a pebble, adelak, or any other hard and smooth object.
The pieces are ready for the slip (a liquid mixture or slurry of clay and/or other materials suspended in water). You will cover them using a cloth, tolok, and a slip of red clay, the iron oxide rich jammar, or white clay, known as biada.
The colors, smells and feelings of the previous days will inspire us to decorate our pieces in the shade under a tree.
Using a brush, arakam, made from a wick of goat hair, we will decorate our pieces with colors made of mineral pigments. These must be ground in a pestle and mortar before they are ready to use. The black color, mogra, comes from manganese oxide diluted in water.
We will then prepare the fire the night before with small pieces of wood, twigs and pine needles.
Day-6 The magic of primitive cooking
This is a unique and fascinating stage for the potter; where the magic of the four elements combine. You will be amazed as from air, water, earth, and fire, the pieces are born.It is a real contemplation of the beauty and magic of nature and thus we will give birth to our pieces. We will start an open fire, muakra, covered with dried disc, luguide, made from a mixture of straw and manure. The potter must remain diligent throughout the combustion, paying close attention to the air currents which influence the fire’s blaze. The best results are achieved when the temperature does not exceed 1000 degrees celsius.
The potter starts the fire the day before the market so she can barter or sell the pottery the next day.
Day-7 Discovery of treasures
We will pick remove our pieces from the fire after a dozen hours of cooking at low temperature. We will let them cool down in the afternoon while we go for a walk and harvest more clay.
Accompanied by a mule or a donkey, we will collect clay in the surroundings of the village. Usually the potter goes at dawn before it gets too hot.
Day-8 Gentle return to reality
It is time to return home, enriched and refreshed by this beautiful human experience. The bonds made and the knowledge shared help to breathe new life into these ancient traditions. A mutual respect and knowledge of cultures to be spread throughout the world. It is time to hit the road, enriched by this beautiful human experience.