Riad Kasbah Oliver (8/17/2011)

Three years ago, Carolyn (pictured below with son Oliver) started building her riad kasbah into a hill in the Tighza Valley. (I feel like I’m hiking up a mountain of red dirt and sand every time I return here after a day out in the village. That was strategic on Carolyn’s part so that the kasbah wouldn’t have unwanted visitors.)

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Designing the building herself, she used local contractors, carpenters, and stone crafters to build the energy-efficient kasbah, fit for the “adventurous type,” according to the Talbot family, a British family that stayed at the kasbah for five days. The riad kasbah is energy efficient because of the strategically-placed windows to allow for the optimum amount of natural light and for a cross draft in each room, and the design materials allow the kasbah to keep retain heat in the winter.

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The building is designed as a combination of a riad and a kasbah with interior and exterior windows and square turrets. A riad is a type of Moroccan hotel or home with a central courtyard that allows entrance to each room. A kasbah is a fortified North African home, that resembles a castle, with a square turret on top of each corner of the building.

As soon as you climb the stone staircase to the double wooden doors, you see the reception desk immediately inside. On the right is a W.C., and to the left is the kitchen (pictured below). Behind the reception desk is another set of double doors, although these doors together are about the size of a large single door. Through these doors rests the open garden, which is surrounded by tile floors. (We eat at small round tables around the garden.)

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On either side of the garden, there are two 7×15 salons, one for dining Berber style and the other for watching TV. Neither room is completely finished, although the dining room is decorated like a traditional Moroccan dining/living room, with seating around each wall that’s covered in decorative tapestry and matching pillows. The other salon, which doesn’t have decorations yet, has a few single-sized camping mattresses with a small TV, cable box and DVD player. (It’s been a good spot for chick flick movie nights with Carolyn and Mina.)

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Beside the garden is a wide-set stone staircase (pictured above) leading to the second floor. Tile floors lead to each of the seven bedrooms, which can accommodate up to 21 people at a time. The kasbah also functions as a home for Carolyn, her husband Mohamed, and their son Oliver, who is two and a half. One room is Carolyn and Mohamed’s, another is Oliver’s. There’s also a large W.C. for the rooms without toilets. Because we are here for the long haul, we snatched the room with two single beds and a private shower and western-style toilet (no squatty potties for us in the kasbah!). And I’m really glad Carolyn gave us this room because of how often the two of us were sick over the course of our 35 days here. A private bathroom and a western toilet turned out to be quite convenient.

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