Morocco: Correspondences

To Correspond:

1520s, “to be in agreement, to be in harmony with,” from Middle French correspondre (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin correspondere, from cor- “together, with each other” + respondere “to answer”

Online Etymological Dictionary


Four miles from the village of Ait Benhaddou, along a winding, upward, desert path, stands a lone fig tree marking the site of a spring. Just ten or so years ago, before indoor plumbing came to the clutch of villages strung along the Ounila River valley, each family trekked with donkey and vessel here and back, here and back, to gather enough water for the day.


After the shadeless climb, resting under the fig tree’s foliage, I imagine what an unlikely place of celebration and communion this must have been.  Today, a place remote, absolutely abandoned and silent; for so many years, a place where water was poured and portioned out, where food, stories, news was shared.

The roots, cutting through the rock like tributaries, mirror an unfinished electrical box outside the walls of a crumbling kasbah in the village of Tamedakthe.


Drawing on vital substances from below, the roots and wires each mark sites where deep human needs and desires concentrate and are dispersed—where exchanges take place between elements, between people.

Walking back to Ait Benhaddou along the road servicing the valley, I notice the power lines that slip beside the pavement.


Their upright and sloping lines seem not alien from, but a part of the surroundings, shaped as if in response to the landscape; like the fig tree’s roots, they are a visual reminder of the practical human connections (and incredible real solutions) that undergird daily life.