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Hot Date in the Desert

Rolling north out of the desert near Rissani, I started to notice roadside crowds of people trying to wave down transportation. While a common occurrence in Morocco, the numbers signified something going on. Our guide told us the Erfoud Date Festival started the night before and locals were making their way to celebrate the date harvest. Of course we'd like to stop...
The dates in Morocco are delicious and they export over ninety-thousand tons annually. This festival used to be held in the town center but has long outgrown that space. Two large exhibition tents now house the displays and samples from dozens of date producing regions and countries.
Erfoud is a carnival scene during this 3-day event. The town overflows with music, dance, food and dates. The mint tea brews and the camels race as locals and visitors crowd into this tucked away part of Morocco. There are places to stay in town but fill up fast. Rissani is a close alternative with Tinghir a couple hours out. Lots of food carts open during the event and there are a handful of restaurants in town.
The festival was a little late this year, Nov. 9-11, and can run as early as end of September. Tough to plan for but serendipitous if you're in the area. If you plan to buy dates, the prices are better at the roadside stands outside of town. Sticky, sweet and flavorful, make a hot date to spend some time with this delectable fruit. A million date palms gladly contribute to your gastronomical experience.

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