We were not going to buy carpets. “No really, it’s too early on the trip and they are too heavy to carry,” I said as I slipped a wad of bills into my purse; well you never know. Ok so it turns out we are push-overs. Going to have tea, “and just for looking at carpets”, is harder than you think. Especially when the gentleman and his sister are lovely and welcoming and show you eye poppingly beautiful carpets.

Carpet shopping is a long drawn out process. We started with a tour of their mud brick kasbah that is over one hundred years old. Then we were shown the looms and wools died with natural ingredients like henna, saffron, pomegranate, mint and indigo. Next came the explanation of all the Berber symbols. We are then invited into their main room and tea was prepared and poured. By this time we are no longer customer and seller, but friends. Mahjoub and his sister gradually begin to unfurl a number of beautiful carpets. About twenty minutes into it we know we are hooked. In Berber culture negotiating prices comes last and after the item has been chosen. For this delicate conversation another pot of tea is brewed and the quality of the carpets discussed further. In our case, his first price seemed so reasonable that we just went through the motions to carve a bit off of the price. Gord and I bought one for ourselves and Matthew got his as an early Christmas present. After the two carpets were sewn up into packages Mahjoub, gave Matthew another small carpet, because he was just so gosh darn cute (or because we paid such a high price). In the end, however, all parties were very happy with the exchange and it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Location:Todra Gorge

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