Writing retreat in Morocco with Jan Cornall

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Writing retreat in Morocco with Jan Cornall

Environment

The desert is a delicate and subtle environment. On the surface it appears desolate and empty, devoid of life but if one looks closely, there are myriad lifeforms working together for survival, including the people who share the land. Plants can lay dormant until they spring into life after a good (and rare) rain. Animals that inhabit the desert are generally nocturnal, choosing to hunt and scavenge in the cooler hours. Many people of the land are nomads, travelling from place to place to find the food to feed their herds of goats, sheep and camels. The introduction of tourism to this region has had a remarkable effect on this balance and the way of life for many here.

We offer berber hospitality in the berber way, we conserve water, are totally solar powered and use wood for cooking and the embers for heating afterwards. We try and reduce rubbish as much as we can and ask visitors to be mindful of what they bring into the region. Plastic bottles are an issue all over developing nations where the water supply is not potable, we bring in water in large containers and ask visitors to bring their own reusable water bottle for refilling.

As one of the few businesses in the area, we provide employment for many locals through our need for services such as laundry, bread making, building and cooking.

At present we do not directly support any charities but we do work with the local association that works for the benefit of the community. Our current project is dealing with waste management in the village.

We hope that visitors to our area will respect itís beauty, isolation and the community that lives there. We ask only thatÖ

whatever rubbish you bring in, please take away with you (the most rubbish that is generated is through packaging
you bring a refillable water bottle (the 2nd greatest amount of rubbish created is from empty bottled water containers)
you donít give sweets or money to the children - their dental hygiene is wanting and giving money encourages a dependent mentality.
you are respectful of the culture and practices in the area, for example public displays of physical affection can cause embarrassment and showing a lot of bare flesh (especially bellies, legs and shoulders), also causes discomfort.

Community

We would not exist or survive without the community here. The men and women of the village have built the place, staff the place and enjoy the place. The two major sources of income in the village are growing dates and the accommodation. The children of the village sell fossils and home-made dolls which we encourage. All furnishings and fittings were made in Rissani and Erfoud - we can show you where you can meet the artisans.

We have recently completed an international and local fundraiser in order to raise funds for a new pump for the village well, this was installed in March 2013. We now turn our attention to waste management as the rise of tourism and concomitant plastic waste increases.

We live quietly and respectfully here we ask you to dress respectfully and listen more than you speak. The locals are extremely and genuinely hospitable. Try and learn some language before you come. In our region, Tashlehiyt, a berber dialect, is the main language "Saha" is tashlehiyt for Thank you - a good one to learn! However most men who work in tourism can speak at least 4 languages fluently.

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