Our journey begins in a dark red hotel room in Marrakesh. I’ve never been in a room that was so ominously…red.
We look out the window and watch life happening around us in this strange new land. We’ve been here a couple of days already but never left the quiet paradise of our resort, so everything is new and different now.
My husband and I marvel at how incredible it is that just a three and a half hour flight from Ireland has bought us to North Africa. The world really has become so small.
We settle into our room, and then head downstairs to meet the group. A group of fellow travellers from all over the world, spending the next week together, and amongst those days, beginning 2016 together. New friends creating moments of life that we will always share, even if our paths never cross again. Though I hope they do.
The next day we make our way to our first destination – the village of Nkob. We drive, traversing the majestic red-earthed terrain of Morocco. It’s a long drive, so we make plenty of stops along the way.
Crystals from the Atlas mountains.
At each stop there are cloaked men who have set up shop on the mountainside. They sell crystals and minerals from the Atlas mountains and my heart is set. I love collecting crystals from new lands explored. It’s always been that way. I excitedly tell my husband that that they are so beautiful and I am so excited to bring one home. He smiles and tells me that we will choose the perfect one for me.
We stop for a coffee break and we, and as usual, we order mint tea (When in Morocco….etc etc). A shot of honey coloured hot sweet mint. Here, they affectionately refer to it as Berber whiskey.
On the road again, I watch through the windows as we pass villages made from the colour of the earth, blending in to the red rock from which they stand.
We carve through the Atlas mountains through narrow winding roads. Sometimes I feel nervous as I look out the window and see how high we are, and how close we are to the edges. My husband says it’s okay not to look, but I can’t help it.
When we finally arrived in Nkob we were greeted warmly by the boys working at the hotel. We decide to put our bags away in our rooms before setting off for an evening walk as a group. But first, tea.
This desert town is surrounded by mountains and crispy palm groves upon lush green fields.
ingWe set off on our walk, and I felt as though I had stepped into another time. It was a peaceful town where everyone was going about their day-to-day activities; working, tending to their shop, quietly socializing, sitting and watching, children playing. We were stepping into and watching a different kind of life, a simple life.
I smiled and greeted all with assalamualaikum and bonjour. Some smiled and greeted me back, some just watched me with deep eyes.
The dusty salmon coloured streets were pleasing to the eye. It was the perfect backdrop for the life and the living that was happening amongst it.
Children watched us with curiosity. Some ran away shyly when we approached. Some gathered. The little boys shook our hands and greeted us, and ran back to their friends to tell each other of their act of bravery. The girls were sweet but certain about their pursuit of modesty. They all the knew the word No.
As the sun set, the sky blushed plum and pink. The village lit up with the most ethereal warm glow; this celestial light pouring over everything it touched.
Golden firey sparks coming from a motor shop.
We came across a group of clever little girls and a shy boy. The girls spoke to us in fluent, musical french. They wanted to know our names and how old we were and lied about their own names and their age. They told us the little boy was 10 years old, and that’s how we knew it was a ruse 😉 We understood their need for anonymity, and enjoyed talking to them for some time before heading back to the hotel.
Then the colours deepened and darkened. It was perhaps the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen, in this humble village with such a proud sky.
Back at the hotel we settled into our rustic little room after dinner. I loved this room, though it was a little bit cold at night.
The next morning it was time to leave. On the very left is our amaaazing tour guide, and on the very right was one of the hotel staff who my husband had made friends with. He asked him about his life, his love, his loss, his joy with knowingness and confidence. I admire the way my husband can make friends everywhere he goes. I told him this and I asked him how he knew the story of a young man from the village with so much accuracy. My husband said “The story of mankind is the same in every country, in every culture, in every religion, from small villages to big cities. Every one has a love story, everyone has heart break, everyone struggles with the same things and finds joy in the same things. And that’s how I knew he would too.”
At the end of our tour, our tour guide asked us what our favourite part of the trip was. For me, our walk through Nkob and the sunset was one of my favourite moments and it is hard to describe why, especially when you compare this humble village to the majestic Sahara dessert and our time there (more on that coming soon). But regardless, somehow, this little village and its sky captured my heart.
Read and see:
The majestic Sahara desert
The Todra Gorge
Ait Ben Haddou
Beach town Essouara