Women perform an Berber Ahwash in the Atlas Mountain

When a Village Turns Out to Greet You: Revisiting Ait Iktel

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to arrive at a remote location and have an entire village turn out to greet you, it might look very much like this scene in Ait Iktel, Morroco.

I blogged about this September 2014 visit to the highlands of Morocco a few times before, but in case you missed it: Ait Iktel is a village of about 150 families in the High Atlas about 100 kilometers south of Marrakech. These women, part of a large welcoming committee that greeted a group of visiting dignitaries that I was covering, were participating in an ahwash, or ahouach, a traditional Berber folkloric song and dance performance unique to this corner of the country.

The women lined the right side of the wide path, chanting, swaying and singing. An occasional ululation, the high-pitched trilling sound that typically accompanies celebrations, pierced the late morning sky. Opposite them men banged on drums and tambourines, singing and swaying as if in poetic conversation with the women. It made for an extraordinary late morning and early afternoon, unforgettable in every sense.

And a somewhat geeky but still marginally related aside:

As I mentioned in this post, this image was part of a longer 36 image photo essay on the visit to Ait Iktel that I published last February in a photo essay section of my other site, photoessays.bobramsak.com.

Even though I like the presentation and the ease with which stories and essays can be published there –it’s through a service called Exposure which allows the use of custom URLs for a fee– I haven’t used that subdomain since. Browsing through some of the work tonight by other photographers gave me a slight kick in the ass to at least want to use it a bit more next year, but I’m wondering which is better: simply hosting most things here or also using the Exposure-driven site in order to reach a wider audience.

I’ll likely pay up for another year and experiment a bit more, although the idea of maintaining and marketing what is essentially another site isn’t the most appealing. Any ideas or experiences? Please do share.


And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 715th straight, was snapped on 14 September 2014 in Ait Iktel, Morocco. Also fitting for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, ‘Gathering‘.


  1. The look of the photo essay site is great, maybe just the way it’s set up. I would certainly follow it, wasn’t aware you had another site like that. But maintaining one site well is a lot of work, two would be very time consuming, I’m sure. Maybe you need an assistant? I’m only half-joking here, you probably could use one!

    1. There are full time bloggers who hire assistants — mainly to handle social media which can be a hefty job in itself these days. Still trying to find the balance; I’ve got a few ideas that I’ll be experimenting with after the new year.

      1. I know authors I follow generally post their blogs but have someone else maintain it and assistants to handle Facebook, etc, run contests and giveaways, that kind of thing. Plus the more I’m working on growing my site, the more time I’m spending reading and responding to others. Could easily become a full time job!

  2. Maintaining two sites is a lot of work, I’m finding it difficult keeping two blogs going. Reaching a wider audience is very important, though, so you need to use that Exposure driven site to the fullest. If you can manage the two I think you should give it your best shot.

  3. Sounds wilds. Must have taken your breath away. When I visited a remote mountain village in Tamil Nadu during my missionary work, the village turned out, but none were comfortable enough with us to sing. Hahah.

    I will definitely have to follow the links and see the rest of the story, if not for pictures alone. They are magnificent. Such a mix of exotic garments!

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