Zawiya d’Ifrane: In search of Morocco’s freshest waters

As part of the film, I will be taking a look at the geography of the regions surrounding Fez. This is not only to contextualize Fez’s waters geologically, but to take a look at some smaller-scale water systems as well as rural installations providing for shepherds and small agricultural settlements.

With the help of Joe and Steven (pictured above), two Peace Corps. volunteers specializing in sustainable development and environmental science, I had the opporunity to spend three days hiking and camping in the hills and cedar forests surrounding the village of Zawiya d’Ifrane. Situated beneath a massive plateau, the village is sustained by the waterfalls cascading of the sheer rock face of said plateau. Further upstream (a long and strenuous hike away), the hills are covered in pines planted by the French and the native oaks until at an even higher altitude, one reaches the cedar forests – one of Morocco’s most beautiful and treasured natural resources.

While on the hike, Steven took us to a well capped by the French, he thinks, where the freshest and coldest water I’ve ever tasted gushes freely from beneath a massive rock. This well was not only our lifeblood during the hike, but it is vital to shepherds and a nearby (abandoned) cottage (also built by the French according to Steven).

We did manage to shoot some footage (I didn’t hike up 1700 ft. of rocky muddy terrain with a massive tripod on back for nothing!) on the hike, however, it will be exciting to go back to Zawiya to take a closer look at local use of these wells and rivers and their affect on life in the village. Today, Fez may have very little in common with Zawiya d’Ifrane, however they have similar, if anachronistic origins. At one time Fez was nothing more than a settlement for herders, lightly built up, and heavily reliant on the fresh water coursing down its hills from sources higher up. Shooting in Zawiya d’Ifrane will allow us to try and go back in time to discover how water was used before Fez was founded as the now-saintly city of Moulay Idriss II.

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