Friday, March 22, 2013

a driver's lessons

Traveling from Marrakech to Fez in three days by car requires extremely long stretches of driving. Thankfully our guide and driver, Said, let us take the reigns of the radio and entertained our questions about his life.

Said is Berber, having grown up in the hills of the Atlas Mountains and has both Berber and Arab names. (A statement which resulted in a request to provide us with our own Arab names; Ali Baba for Travis, Na'ima for Natalie and 'Aisha for me). But when we asked him his age, he said he wasn't quite sure.

Berber culture doesn't require immediate berth certificates, and when his dad finally registered him with the government, they made his date of birth the date of registration. His mom said he was a few years old by that point, and reasons he could be between 22 and 26 years old. He sticks with the median of the two for good measure.

His mother is one of many Berber women with a black mark tattooed on her face. In the 13th century, the king wanted to sleep with a different Berber woman each night. To ensure this, after a woman had spent the night with him, he would tattoo her lower forehead with a long black mark. But to protect their virtue, Berber parents tattooed their own daughters once she came of age, thus sparing her from the king. The tradition became so ingrained into the culture that it continues to this day, with the woman being marked on her wedding day. Although, the newest generation, like Said's sisters, have opted for henna instead of permanent tattoos. Not that I can blame them.


Patti said...

I enjoy hearing the stories about the people you meet, and the different traditions. Except for the naked massages. *blush*

claireb said...

Ha! *blush* is right.