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Smoking Kif In 70s Morocco

by Dave Blackhurst
2 October 2014 17 Comments

Hippies didn't buy their weed from ferret-faced lads in souped-up Corsas around the back of a McDonalds Drive-Thru. Theirs was an altogether more civilised transaction.

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Before the days of cheap long range travel the destination of choice for a self-respecting hippy was Morocco. It was 1975, I was 20 years old and it was the first time I’d been abroad.

I was on the Marrakech express from Tangiers with two guys and a girl I’d met that day on the ferry from Algeciras. We fell into conversation with a uniformed Moroccan soldier who insisted that we share pipe after pipe of kif. Mohammed also insisted that we meet him the next day, whereupon he would give us a guided tour of the old souk and sort us out a supply of the local smoking material.

After rendezvousing at the appointed hour we took in the sites before Mohammed announced that it was time to meet the dealer. We assumed it would be a furtive meeting in a dark back alley – a hurried exchange of money and merchandise. That, evidently, is not the Moroccan way.

The pony and trap hailed by our host took us ever further from the centre of the city. We were off to Mohammed’s home where, since his father’s death, he was head of the household. He wanted his family to meet his new friends. The house was a little larger than most in the immediate area, a low, two-story sandstone villa with a high wall and a large, brass-studded wooden gate. As we entered Mohammed called out and within minutes the courtyard was filled with people. Mother, younger brothers and sisters, several aged aunts with their children and grandchildren and a particularly fierce looking bearded uncle. It transpired that those not of the immediate family had been summoned from their homes to greet us.


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“It’s time to eat,” announced Mohammed. Our protestations were in vain. To have refused would have been as rude as our hosts would have deemed it not to have offered hospitality to guests. We were led to a long, low table in a cloistered area off the courtyard and given bowls of rose-scented water in order to wash our hands. Mother, sisters and aunts brought dish after dish of wonderfully aromatic food. I can’t recall everything we ate, but I do remember having my first couscous, my first tagine and my first fresh figs.

My strongest memory is of one of Mohammed’s sisters. She was 15 or 16, very shy and very beautiful. Around her head was wrapped a huge towel under which she had applied raw henna. Tiny rivulets of red ran down the nape of her neck. I think I fell in love.

The dealer arrived not long after the meal commenced. From an ancient leather bag he produced some huge marijuana buds, a solitary tobacco leaf, a large knife and a wooden board. His rhythmical, staccato chopping soon reduced the foliage to a large mound of kif.

All too soon the meal was finished, the deal done and the farewells said.

That evening we sat, a little stoned, on the terrace of our hotel sipping mint tea, watching the sun die over the Atlas Mountains and reflecting upon what had been one of the most memorable days of our lives.


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image descriptionCOMMENTS

scotty 2:21 pm, 31-Aug-2011

You were lucky to get there in '75. By 1990 everyone on that train to Marrakech was a target for almost every elaborate hustle and rip off merchant under the sun.

Bill Long 3:02 pm, 31-Aug-2011

Read "the moon's a ballon" by David Niven he talks of when he shared a house with Doug Fairbanks jnr-they would have a smoke of Kif together of an evening-David Niven eh? ..what a dude

Aziz 10:40 pm, 31-Aug-2011

I was 15 and I could have been that Mohamed, the scruffy, tall, skinny foreigners ( hippies) did fascinate me, I enjoyed their carefree attitude. I let my hair grow wild and took up smoking kif which was beneath my folks social standing.I think those depraved western individuals helped shape the relatively tolerant, accepting mind of the average Morroccan. Yes, we enjoyed lots of fresh figs, freshly chopped kif and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The days when the ideals collided gently...

Johnny L 2:48 pm, 3-Sep-2011

Love it, write more Dave.

dongzilla 1:16 pm, 8-Sep-2011


Emma Grainger 6:33 pm, 26-Oct-2011

I love your style of writing Dave, great story..more please!

Steve 5:28 pm, 19-Mar-2012


hillbilly 1:07 pm, 24-Mar-2013

very nice piece, wish I could have gone to Morocco in 75 but I was busy filling nappies. made it in 92 and on 2 other occasions and absolutely love the place. it's still possible to have experiences like the above. more morrocan reminiscents please....

EdiSchwager 7:43 pm, 24-Mar-2013

I once visited in the 70s as a journalist doing research about the cannabis cultivation in Morocco the little village Ketama in the mountains. Ketama was the undisputed center for the cultivation and dealings with the drug. I managed to get driven high up to the large plantations but had heavy problems because I refused to smoke or buy the drug. Finally I paid some money for the incredible adventure and the allowance to talk to the growers and take fotos.

Shaun 9:12 pm, 24-Mar-2013

Beautiful, story and like others would love to hear more of your adventure.. Those days are long gone and you were lucky to have caught it when you did.

Nevermind 7:06 am, 21-Apr-2013

No days are long gone Shaun. You just have to jump in the stream. Given the present climate, the water might be a little too deep and chilly for most of us but, hey, you want a good story to tell your grandchildren or this blog? Jump! 1971 Tangiers: Mohammed was right there out of nowhere, as soon as we stepped off the ferry from the deracinated Spain of Franco. M. was very helpful--shoving my wife and I to the front of the line (mob) at the customs kiosk and then showing us the way to a hotel in the Medina (we had a "previously owned (about 8 or 9 previous) VW bug we bought in Heidelberg for $300 cash. M. was by now a miracle worker and he was very persuasive. We weren't particularly in Morocco to sample the cannabis but it wasn't outside our areas of interest either. After we settled in the room, Mohammed suggested that he and I--the little lady should rest now after a long and difficult ferry journey--check out his "brother's" kif emporium at another location. OK, I guess. Where are we going? Up the stairs to the roof. OK, I guess. Let's go into that penthouse (doorless concrete block structure) and wait for my brother. OK, I guess. Almost immediately his "brother" arrives and produces from his waistband a 1/4" thick slab of kif/tobacco about the size of an iPad wrapped in cellophane. "$30 now." No one said anything threatening. I just caved to the situation, literally with my back to the wall. OK, I guess. The worst cannabis I'd have ever had. More tobacco, I suspect, than the good weed. We buried it on the beach at Algeciras before we left.

David Hillier 1:40 pm, 26-Apr-2013

great piece, nothing like leaving them wanting more

TFP 6:53 pm, 17-Oct-2013

Overshort but enjoyable.

Lilyana 5:54 am, 5-Dec-2013

My experience was similar to Nevermind's experience. Mohammed was also waiting for us in Marrakech when we arrived by bus. We had just spent 5 weeks in Agadir enjoying the company of new friends from all corners of the globe. We shared a room with another young couple we just met in the American Hotel for 5 dirhams a night. This was the equivalent of $1.00 US. Cold running water and communal toilets down the hall consisting of a hole in the floor. This was 1970 and life was a big adventure. Mohammed offered his services as tour guide through the medina in such a way that we had no choice but to follow him. We had the privilege of stopping briefly in a local opium den where we witnessed several old men smoking and dreaming on wooden bunks along the walls. The deeper we went into the medina the more uneasy we became wondering if we'd ever find our way out if Mohammed lost us. At the conclusion of the tour our guide insisted that we partake in sharing some kif smoke with him and it also came in a large slab about 1/4 thick and of a light tan colour. The quality was poor and we barely caught a buzz. Our guide then proceeded to tell us that we would be transporting some of this kif to America inside the false soles of shoes and deliver it to his cousin in Milwaukee or some such place. We could not shake this guy until we agreed to meet him at 6:00PM that evening to close the deal. We went back to the hostel we were staying at and grabbed our belongings and left town as quickly as we could. Sure didn't want to get mixed up in that deal.

Randy Jackson 7:15 am, 12-Apr-2014

I was in Agadir in 1971 December for 3 months . Built a bamboo & plastic hut on the beach with our vw bug attached. Met some wonderful people. We called our hut the "ozone hotel" Anyone remember.?

rastaman pube smoker 4:43 pm, 10-May-2014

i remember when we smoked a bowl full of rastaman pubic hair. it was laced with hep c. rastaman did us dirty we was all like "what the bloodclot"

anonymous 9:27 am, 26-May-2014

I like the early scenes in Alan Parker's "Midnight Express" (1978) which strongly evoke the atmosphere of the time you describe...hippies smoking hookahs in overcrowded Turkish cafes while being oblivious to the horrors that are hidden away and about to unfold around them...

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