Fes to Figuig
Caravane Route
To Ziz Valley

Leo notes

Caravan notes

Cristel notes

Life in a Desert Oasis

Figuig is a desert oasis- a place of life and growth nested in a vast expanse of dryness and death. The several water sources that provide Figuig with its lukewarm, life-giving water make this miracle possible. Water rights are passed on from generation to generation, and a 45 minute weekly flow of water is enough to cultivate a small garden of palm trees, fig trees and ever apricots! But water is only the prerequisite: wise living and an art for conservation also account for centuries of survival and prosperity.

Leo tells an amusing story about the types of ttroubles oasis dwellers went through to accumulate all goods necessary for life and greenery:

A complex system of water pipes brings water to every garden
" There are many fields, but the land has to be watered with water from wells, as the region is dry, and fertilized with animal waste. This is why locals encourage travelers to sleep in their homes, to gather the waste from both men and their horses. The greatest offense a guest can do his host is to go to the bathroom outside of his home. If the host sees this he will get mad and cry out: "Have you not noticed that there is a bathroom in my house. Why do you go outside?" (Leo, 436)

An almond tree in the desert- a miracle of resource management
Given the scarcity of greenery, herding is also a challenge in such desert Oasis. In Figuig, each family has its own small group of sheep, and an occasional set of chickens, but they mostly rely on the weekly souk where abundant and various goods from Oujda land on their central plaza. In Leo's time, such reliance on the outside world was equally crucial, and Caravans insured the transfer of goods from rich regions like Fes to more arid ones in the South:
"Meat is very expensive (in an Oasis) because there is very little herding in the region due to draught. There are only a few goats used for their milk. People eat camel meat, which they purchase from Arabs in local markets. These are the camels that can no longer be used for travel. They also eat salty meets imported from Fez by merchants who make a huge benefit on the trade." (Leo, 436)