I once spent Christmas in the Jebel Sahro mountains of southern Morocco. We arrived in Marrakesh to be surrounded by the exotic - dust, donkeys, palm trees and hot sun, reminding me more of a Christmas nativity story than anything I'd seen before. On Christmas day we headed south, zigzagging over the High Atlas mountain passes in a very full minibus (snow at the top - White Christmas!!) and down to the hot south, through the oasis town of Ouzerzat with it's flat-roofed (Bethlehem nativity scene) houses of pink and yellow mud, and on to the mountains. That night we stayed in a traditional Berber house in a small village with no streetlights, camping mats placed on traditional brightly coloured Moroccan rugs. We dined in a Berber tent in the courtyard, lit by traditional lamps, watching a bright starlit clear sky in the crisp desert night above the camp fire which kept us warm. We feasted on traditional Moroccan food. Our Muslim Berber hosts had, aware that for most of us this was Christmas Day, prepared a tray of delicious Moroccan pastries, crisp and light yet heavy with syrup and nuts. We ate them washed down with the ubiquitous sweet mint tea which was to become a favourite comfort food throughout our trekking trip. What better way to enjoy this special time of year than through the combination of an exotic trip and a reminder of the season with the traditional 'Christmas nativity' setting?
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