In the week following our writer's retreat in Fes, I had the best mini writer's residency at Sefrou, half an hour's drive out of town in a grand taxi. Not long after I waved bye-bye to my dear writers with whom I had spent the most exhilarating fortnight, I found myself in a much smaller, quieter town.
I only had a week but I could have easily stayed a month. My guest house Dar Attamani it turns out, was a former rabbi's home. I wonder if that's why I felt so peaceful and happy there.
My host Jess Stephens has her own place just around the corner, a gorgeous wee apartment with a roof garden and view of the river that rushes delightfully loudly through the centre of the medina.
roof top terrace,
while storks were busy on their twiggy nests on every mosque minaret in sight,
not at all interested in my delicious meals cooked by Zeinab and staff.
Jess popped in often to see how I was going, and to show me around town - we went country walking...
with her dog Jasmina,
and 70 year old neighbour, Achmed.
The annual Cherry Festival was getting going in full swing on the last few days of my stay. It is Morocco's oldest festival - 93 years! There were cherries a plenty (no cherry pics), and also markets and craft displays,
a giant fun fair,
even fairy floss,
big music events, including a showcase of traditional Berber singing and dancing,
I was imagining some kind of Disneyland affair but Fantasia is a horse riding event where a line of eight or so desert men (and one woman!) ride their gallantly decorated stallions full pelt at the audience for a few hunderd yards, discharging their muskets and coming to an abrupt stop before the excited crowd.
Jan Cornall is a writer and performer who leads writer's retreats in Bali, Fiji, Laos, Burma, Morocco.
Find out more here