We’ve seen Mary Gillham and her many donkey friends, and we’ve looked at donkeys in Peru; now it’s time for the donkeys (and a horse or two, or perhaps a mule) of Morocco to show their charming faces. Morocco may be a rapidly westernising nation but equine power still rules in the narrow, meandering alleyways of the centuries-old medinas, where motorised vehicles will never fit or be welcomed, and in the more remote rural areas that roads do not, may never reach.
If you’re exploring the medinas of ancient Moroccan cities, one word you must immediately commit to memory is balak because, if you don’t take heed and ‘watch out’ or ‘get out of the way’, you may well be bowled over by a donkey carrying anything from full panniers of groceries to back-breaking loads of animal skins bound for the local tanneries. These animals are not pets – they don’t have names – and they are worked hard but, for the most part, they are looked after because they are valuable assets, providing essential transportation services to their owners and customers alike.
If you’re a donkey lover and would like to read more about the donkeys of Morocco, I found this article from their quarterly Journeys magazine on the Smithsonian website – it’s a great read.