Traveling to Marrakech so many times made me always dream about the Atlas mountains, a series of mountain ranges stretching trough the Maghreb and being home to numerous Berber tribes. A couple of weeks ago my dream came true and I had the chance to visit the Ourika valley. And literately one of this world’s paradises on earth.
Are the most beautiful places always that hidden? Do you have to pass kilometers of bumpy roads and palm trees and huge cactus families to reach heaven?! Apparently, yes. And you know what?! It should always stay like this. Because then these places remain a blissful “secret”.
Life, in all of its fullness, is happening right here, right now. While our thoughts are sometimes, or rather very often, elsewhere, beautiful opportunities and moments are being passed over and lost to the flow of time. And though we can not possibly fully experience each leaf that falls on the ground, sometimes we get so attached to reaching our goals that we don’t pay attention to the wonder all around us. There is so much to be enjoyed and appreciated that we need to remember to pay attention to the present moment, because it is the only space in which we can experience being alive. Especially during this period of the year when everyone is running after Christmas presents or trying to get the best out of the year career wise. Or after some very intense days in busy and chaotic Marrakech you need silence. Silence to breath. Silence to come down. Silence to appreciate life again.
There is no better place to do so. Salam alaykum, Kasbah Bab Ourika, hello nature at its’ best. Built and opened in 2008 by a British/Portuguese couple the kasbah (meaning “fort” in Arabic) shows what it means when passion is the driver and labour is made of love and time. Located just one hour from Marrakech on the top of a hill, it offers 25 rooms and 60 beds, all decorated with modern furniture combined with traditional Moroccan interior design details and home decor accessories found on flea markets around the world. From every angle you will find a breathtaking 360 degrees view on the river, the green fields and groves of olives, lemons and oranges and the dazzling snowy Atlas mountain peaks. Here you can sit in one of the wooden lounge chairs and watch for hours the amazing surrounding, the birds flying, the children of the valley playing, the rain pouring down. Or you can enjoy a traditionally Moroccan hammam steam bath. Or you can make one of the numerous trekking tours through the mountains and valleys. But everything you do here, you do with thoughtfulness.
In the last six years that I am going to Morocco, it has never rained. But I know the law of polarity so I was not surprised when it did not stop raining cats and dogs in the Ourika Valley while I was there. The simple miracle of water falling from the sky has been interpreted in many ways by many cultures. In various areas of the world, rain was viewed as a nourishing gift. Rain also served as a symbol of emotional cleansing and represented the unending union between earth and sky. For me the arrival of one or more rainy days is a signal to slow down and to contemplate about life. I was so thankful, that Hassan, my trekking guide, could not be kept from the water and handed a pair of rain boots over to me. Off we hiked to the Monday market, a weekly gathering where mostly men come down to the village center to buy their food for the coming week. I felt like in a time machine traveling back to the middle ages. Donkeys, farmers, goats, vegetable and fruits, chickens, barbers and dentists – all in one place. Content. Not chasing the new job, new car, new iPhone, new airplane ticket. Why the hell are we living in such a crazy, fast, technology driven world?!
Days and experiences like this teach me intensively to row back and to slow down. To live nature and to ground. Whoever is traveling to Marrakech should not miss this beautiful place, this beautiful peace and ease. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Beatriz and Damien and the whole team. Kasbah Bab Ourika made me fill up my batteries to the fullest. And it will fill up yours.