When abroad in Paris as an undergraduate, Oum's Director Abby, joined fellow students for a two-week tour of Morocco.
"It was a logical choice. Morocco is not far from France, and French is widely spoken there. Further, it would be exciting to visit a country whose culture is unlike my own. Little did I know how memorable these two weeks would be.
En route to the Sahara, our bus switched precariously through the Atlas Mountains. Then, lo and behold, we were hailed down by an old man. “The Americans!” he exclaimed. “They are back!”
As it so happened, our guide explained that he made a point to stop in Ifri every spring. The man had been flagging him down for ten years!
We soon found ourselves in his home. His wife served us sweet mint tea and freshly baked bread from the outdoor oven. We learned the old man was a shepherd. But, during these two weeks, his son goes out alone with the herd so that he can wait beside the road.
One student asked if his wife helped with the sheep. He waved his hands and told us to look at the rugs we were sitting on. From shearing the sheep to preparing the wool, she had woven each and every one. Except for the rugs at home, she sells her finished work at a regional market.
He took us for a short walk down the hillside where the village used to be. When the original buildings had worn and collapsed, the townspeople relocated steps away. In what you could tell was once a room, he told us it was the exact place of his birth. After exploring the village ruins, we headed back to our bus. It was dusk.
Our group had spent merely three hours in Ifri, yet much had happened in that brief span. The old man and his wife had been very kind to welcome us. From then on, the Atlas Mountain appeared friendlier, less jagged and arid. This unexpected pause along the way is one of my cherished memories of Morocco."
Director at Oum Rugs Co.