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Aliveness

CHEFCHAOUEN, M O R O C C O

I wake up and open my bedroom window to reveal blue walls and blue sky, sparrows singing and men singing in the mosque.

Hearing Arabic brings a smile to my lips and I remember my grandmother and my heritage. I hear her saying prayers in Arabic before we eat and her accent. Her sweetness, her innocent outlook, despite all the hardships life had presented.

There’s a passion in the language of these people, the presence with which they talk, their kindness, the way they walk. Their skin, their eyes, their hand gestures.

Where do I come from, where am I going and where will I stay? These questions I ponder as the crucial time for deciding grows ever so near. Will I return to the motherland? Is this my destiny? Will I align with the cultures that are rich with passion, with sound, with design, with music, with a spirituality ingrained in their veins?

I hear the way the footsteps of running children echo down the narrow alleyways and the voices of traders as they argue with each other. It’s all in good spirit though. It’s part of the culture. Passion, authenticity, being heard. They explode with strong emotion then return to a mischievous smile and relax into the moment. 

I giggle. I appreciate what I am hearing. There is an aliveness outside of my window that spills over into my room and fills me with gratitude, just for this simple moment of being here and hearing this life that is going on for me to witness, for me to hear, for me to be a part of if I wish.

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Roses Abound

KALAAT M’GOUNA, M O R O C C O

As we approach Kalaat M’Gouna (Valley of the Roses), I can smell the sweet scent of the Rosa Damascena wafting through the air. Little boys stand on the side of the road selling small rose garlands. Roses and beauty abound.

We arrive in the main square where our taxi awaits to take us to The Kasbah des Roses where we will stay at a small distillery with a Berber family and soak in the peace and dramatic beauty of this valley.

Everything is pink here, the taxis and the walls of buildings and there is a huge rose sculpture in the center of the town square.

We get whisked away to the Kasbah, about a 20-minute ride away, and arrive at the most gorgeous property.

The building itself is humble and simple with an old metal door leading into a main courtyard. We are shown to our room which is covered in roses: the bed, the bathroom sink and window ledge. We have a view of the mountains and the valley below.

We are given mint tea on arrival and introduced to the family who are thrilled that we are there. Mohammed beams a smile and proudly invites us to take a walk in the valley which is the most beautiful sight to behold. Roses bloom in the lush valley amongst pomegranate trees, figs and wheat. Birds sing as the sun sets behind red mountains. We are enthusiastically given handfuls of roses as we proceed on our walk. I’ve never seen so many roses in all my life. The high vibration of the scent in the air is beyond compare.

We have landed in paradise. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been with some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.