Day 23 of  The A to Z  Blogging Challenge

W is for Water Sellers

water sellers
Traditional water sellers from Morocco

When you go to a foreign country, a rule of thumb is never to drink the water. Even if you do decline the water in Marrakech, Morocco (as you should), don’t miss the water sellers, themselves. Although the first thing one sees is their colorful traditional red clothing and the wide-brimmed Berber hat for shade, the brass or copper cups strapped to their chest and the goat skin water bag, they represent much more than a good photo op. They have a long history, which we should never water down.

The guérrab historically carry one of the most precious assets to the inhabitants of the desert. To a berber, water is life. It’s so important that the Koran gives everyone, whether Muslim or not,  the right to access the spring or well in which the water comes for himself or for one’s animals.

The guérrab is the carrier, or the custodian, of this precious liquid commodity. 

Their clothing has always been bright and colorful to be easily recognized by those who needed to have their thirst quenched in the desert. Now, there is less desert and most of the water sellers have become tourist-driven and will eagerly pour water for money and a photo.

But don’t drink the water. You will have to contend with gastrointestinal problems that come along with that moment of unwise daring!

This is a video I found that explains more about the culture of the water seller.

The first time I ever saw a Moroccan water seller like the one above was in Dubai, actually, at the famous Dubai Shopping Festival. an international extravaganza. People and goods from all over the Arab world descend on the festival grounds. I was with an American friend and her Moroccan husband when a guerrab–exactly like the one above–began to clink his cups and I remember, standing, and staring, quite fascinated.

That is when my friend explained their cultural role to me.

I have always been interested in “water sellers,” in whichever country I have visited. whether the water has been stored in pots, jars or served in shiny cups in the plaza like it is in Morocco.  In most foreign countries, large bottles of ice cold water are sold to tourists.

What is your favorite hot weather thirst quencher? Do you prefer pop, alcoholic beverages, juices, or something you prepare yourself? What do you think of the Moroccan berber water sellers? 

You have just read, “The Water Sellers,” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright May 9, 2015. You can see who else is participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge HERE

W is for Water Seller
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18 thoughts on “W is for Water Seller

  • May 9, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    This is fascinating, Amy, and what a beautiful photo! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • May 9, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    What a great story about the water sellers of Marakesh. Lovely tradition too. I would probably pay them to have my picture taken with them. Not sure if I would drink the water.

  • May 9, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    You’re welcome! Hope you can make it to Marrakech one day and see the real water sellers!
    Did you finish the A to Z Challenge? I hope to finish it soon.

  • May 9, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Mina,
    Definitely don’t drink the water! You could pretend though!
    Now if you were in Egypt, if you drink from the Nile River, you are sure to return, or so the saying goes.

  • May 10, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Although I majored in cultural anthropology (too many years ago) I had never heard of the culture of the water seller. Fascinating (and colorful) post.

  • May 10, 2015 at 2:00 am

    Hi Alana,
    I’m so happy you enjoyed it! It really is quite fascinating! I loved the video segment. I’ve been reading up on them since my visit to Morocco and many are lamenting how tourism has changed their traditions in that now it’s so much more about photography and so much less about their tradition.

  • May 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    On a hot day, I really appreciate water. Nothing else will do. Water quenches the thirst perfectly, whereas other drinks contain some form of nourishment. Just recently my husband has requested water although he normally rejects it. When the body is ill, that’s what it craves. I remember once reading about the inscription on a great leader’s tomb. ‘… and I never diverted a river from its course’. Water is precious.

  • May 10, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    You are so right, Francene.
    My family now uses a special type of water that is very expensive to filter. A family from church brings us about five gallons each week and we can really taste the difference. I love water, too! My sister used to drink water with Barley Max, which is good for the immune system. God bless your husband. I love that inscription on the tomb. Thanks for your comment!

  • May 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    How cool is that! The world of travel brings us all together in a fantastic way!

  • May 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    the costume of this water sellers is nice. nice clicks.

  • May 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    So glad you enjoyed it, Amar!

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I never heard of water sellers. My favorite way to quench my thirst when it’s hot out is ice cold water (with or without lemon) or unsweetened fresh brewed sun tea iced.

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Hi Sue,
    I love sun tea! When I lived in San Antonio, Texas, my friend or her husband always served me freshly-brewed sun tea!
    It’s wonderful! Thank you for reminding me of that!

  • May 11, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Thanks for sharing this story! Isn’t it strange that something we tend to take for granted – good drinking water – is often not available in other countries and tourists are always warned not to drink the water!

    My favorite hot weather beverage is sweet ice tea!

  • May 11, 2015 at 4:10 am

    What an enchanting bit of travel and cultural trivia! Love the colorful costumes. I think I would have to pretend to drink, too. 🙂

  • May 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Hi K Lee,
    Ha ha! We haven’t built up any antibodies to ward off stomach problems. Clean water is such a blessing. Imagine in days past how much those water sellers were welcomed by desert dwellers!
    Thanks for your comment.

  • May 12, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Barbara,
    So true! I was excited to find that video! What a great tool to learn about them! A couple years ago, I was trying to describe the water sellers and I couldn’t find anything about them. They are becoming more of a phenomena outside the country.Some feel this is good and some, not so good!

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