The Washerwomen of Chefchaouen
Just outside the walls of the Medina a spring, Ras Al Ma, gushes from the side of a hill and flows down the wadi. Further downstream just past the bridge that leads up to Bab Onsar, local women come everyday to do the family’s laundry. Special wash rooms have been built, one on each bank of the Oued el Kebir river.
There they chat, sing and joke amongst themselves while carrying out their tasks. everything gets washed from clothes to carpets. The wash rooms have built in stone washboards and basins for rinsing the clothes.
Carpets are actually taken into the river and opened out for soaking and then taken to a large concrete floor where they are scrubbed with soap and then rinsed again before being hung on the railings above to dry.
The water supply to the wash rooms comes from purpose built channels that divert the water from the river, after it has turned the flour mills, through the wash rooms and out again. The river was quite low when i visited but during the rainy season months can be quite a torrential torrent.
The spring is also an attraction for Moroccan tourists to the town who think it lucky to drink from the waters. They dress up in traditional Riffian costumes hired for a few minutes from local entrepreneurial women and have their photo taken and fill their water bottles from the spring.
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