October 1, 2016
As a late anniversary present to ourselves, we booked a 5-day trip to the foot of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco after a busy wedding season…!! We had never been to the area before (let alone to Africa!!) so with a sweet balance of nerves and excitement we stuffed our backpacks and left for the airport at 4am bleary-eyed and in great anticipation of the adventure ahead. It’s safe to say the reward was great for being a die-hard Groupon deal hunter. If that was a sport I think I’d win a gold medal. Just saying.
Too excited to sleep on the plane, we wrote a list of our hopes and expectations for the trip. My list went a little bit like this… surprise, surprise. ;)
Aside from a trek in the mountains and a short visit to the market in Marrakech, that is exactly what we did.
Looking back over these photos I can feel the warmth of the sun and practically smell the fresh, fragrant air again… if only I could have bottled it up to keep forever and ever!
Being the only arrivals that day at the hotel (I can hardly even believe this was a hotel!?) I took advantage of the space and grabbed a few establishing shots!
The view was literally jaw-dropping. Who needs an iPhone or tablet in your face when you have the Atlas Mountains?!
We became accustomed to ordering our dinner 2-hours before service as the ingredients came fresh every day from the Berber villages which were an est. 40-minute drive away.
Naively thinking it’s always hot in Morocco, the warmest clothing we packed was a sweatshirt each. So when the temperature dropped to about 10c at night, our star-gazing dreams were short lived but completely worth it. We had never seen a sky so jet-black and revealing so many stars. I laid my camera on a table, put on a 10 second exposure and this is the detail I managed to capture.
Warm, sunny mornings had me all… even at 8:00am!!
Pastry, pancakes and fresh squeezed orange juice every morning for breakfast. It’s like they knew me.
I was a little obsessed with the cacti…
Olive trees EVERYWHERE!
Only desert land, mountains and olives beyond our walls. I bet Joel I could run away and survive purely off of olives until I found civilisation. I immediately took that back when we woke up to sounds of only God knows what! A wild animal of some sort most likely hunting. Whatever is was we decided right there and then that it would be in our best interest to stay on our side of the wall after sunset…
Our drive up the Atlas Mountains to the Berber Villages of Morocco. Stunning!
The driver dropped us off and motioned for us to ‘carry on!’ He waited in the car. We went on foot. Not a clue as to where we were going.
Seeing children running around and playing outside their homes on these CLIFFS was terrifying to me. A thousand foot drop just a step away? No big deal.
Two boys sitting and enjoying the view over the cliffs edge of their mountain home.
Clearly the coolest hat around/ my emergency rescue from sunstroke.
Failed selfie #183
We shared the hat and took a few breaks… clearly blending in with the natives.
Our last day in Morocco was spent at the souks in Marrakech. We wouldn’t say it was an enjoyable experience for us (I could only take so much hounding and haggling) but it was worth going. We wanted to experience the culture shock everyone was talking about and well, we sure checked that off the bucket list! The colour, the sounds and the smells made for a very strange experience to the one we found comfortable in the mountains. Two vastly different cultures and ways of life- one was loud, busy and crowded and the other was quiet, slow-paced and peaceful. We would recommend seeing a bit of both, but spend the majority of your time in one that suits your personality and expectations of a holiday. We were glad we spent most of our time away from the city, but that’s just us!
With sunburned faces and tired feet, we boarded our plane ahead of schedule and slept nearly the entire way back to London. We can still hardly believe that a different continent, country and culture is only a 3 1/2 hour flight from home. We learned many life lessons on our trip to Morocco. We learned to enjoy a slow pace of life, to rest and sit down and drink mint tea for no apparent reason other than to just sit and drink tea. We had the enjoyment of being with each other and going on an adventure that didn’t involve the internet, tv, laptops or our phones. We learned that communicating charade-style will get us further than our broken french. We learned to breathe deeper than we thought possible and enjoy complete silence. We learned to enjoy the flavor and color of food instead of wolfing it down in a hurry. We also learned that it’s a good idea not to book anything in the diary for the morning after traveling. In case one of you may or may not get a paralyzing illness on the flight back and end up in a wheelchair and airport hotel… but that’s a whole other story in itself.