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Dr. Brian Chatterton

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“scrupulously honest, generous, fair, friendly, and very reliable”

I have known Hammi and Ammar Ait H’Ssaine and their families for well over 20 years (also their younger brother Mohammed, but I have not seen him as often). I have traveled in Morocco with Hammi as a guide and friend numerous times (I have lost count, but it is more than 10 times, and usually was for more than a month at a time). I met Hammi through mutual friend (Brian Eberhardie of Moussa Minerals). I have spent numerous weeks in Hammi’s company, traveling and doing fieldwork, over most of Morocco (mainly the Anti-Atlas, but all regions except southwestern Morocco, the part that used to be Spanish).

In all of my dealings with the Ait H’Ssaine family I have found them to be scrupulously honest, generous, fair, friendly, and very reliable. If Hammi says he will meet your plane at Casablanca, Marrakech, or Erfoud at 2 am, he will be there waiting for you with a charming smile to take you to your hotel, and then meet you for breakfast the next morning. If you ask him for advice, he will give you sensible advice (but will not give you unnecessary advice). He has never let me down. Hammi has traveled extensively outside Morocco and he has visited me in Canada, and I have met him (and Ammar) several times at fossil/mineral shows outside Morocco (Tucson and Sainte Marie-aux-Mines). They appear at home wherever they are. Hammi’s spoken English is excellent (I talk very fast when I am excited, and Hammi always seems to be able to follow what I am saying, so I would rate him as fluent in spoken English).

Of course Hammi can speak French, Arabic and Berber fluently. I know that Hammi has traveled to Germany and Spain a number of times, but I am not sure of how good his German and Spanish are (probably better than mine). Hammi and Ammar are friendly, cheerful men. I have never seen them angry or rude, despite the sort of trials and tribulations that are commonplace in fieldwork, particularly when the temperature climbs and you are far from the main road. My long association with Hammi and Ammar (and their younger brother Mohammed), and a number of their friends, has made me very fond of Moroccans, and I feel contented and comfortable with them and in their lovely country. I can recommend them and their close friends to anyone, without reservation.

In this paragraph, I list briefly a few of Hammi and Ammar’s unusual skills and areas of expertise: world class preparators of fossils (particularly trilobites, using airbrasive and/or mechanical techniques); unparalleled knowledge of Moroccan trilobites and trilobite localities, particularly of the Anti-Atlas and peri-Sahara regions; travel in town or desert in Morocco (excellent drivers on road or desert); navigating off-road (on-road is mostly fairly easy in Morocco, except for some of the cities which can be ‘exciting’ when hundreds of bicycles and motorcycles are charging you, going the wrong way); expediters on trips (they know what to buy, where to buy it, and how to cook); and they seem to have friends all over Morocco, so can often find you good places to stay at reasonable rates and interesting places and/or people to visit.

Dr. Brian Chatterton, Emeritus Professor, University of Alberta, Canada.

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