Countess de Peach.

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Acrylics on canvas, 30″ x 40″

This is a strange little departure for me. I am used to the more dark, awkward elements in my paintings. This one is almost pleasing. I love all the stuff going on around her hair. All that energy.

She seems to be waiting, very patiently, for her afternoon tea and crumpets.

Nothing..

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Nothing, no matter how small, or fleeting, or fragile is insignificant if it brings you joy.

So look, feel, walk, observe, breathe, be grateful…

Collect these moments like the bright stars that they are.

Let them shine like bright beacons through the mundane and the rote.

 

How green it all is again. And tender. We are placed once again in the arms of abundance and generosity. Of softness and re-growth. There is a deep blooming of souls everywhere.

Riad Zitoune Lakdim, Marrakech.

Nestled deep within the alleys of Marrakesh,  Riad Zitoune Lakdim, is a 3 storied Riad with a terrace that looks out over the rooftops of this wonderful warren of a city. It is warm and bright, cozy and spacious, and within easy walking distance of Place Jemaa El Fna, Palais Badi, Palais Bahia, La Koutoubia, just to name a few….

It is so brand spanking new, we were the first guests here! What?!!😀

  • They offer laundry services, free wifi, and house cleaning.
  • They will recommend a tour guide if you need one. Our guide’s name was Fatima and she was wonderful! Very sweet and knowledgeable. 
  • It can easily house 8 to 10 people if sharing a room isn’t an issue.

 

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…on the street where you live…” 

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The dining room and living/TV room. We were served a delicious breakfast every morning of boiled eggs, olives, jam and marmalade, freshly squeezed orange juice, crepes or bread, Moroccan mint tea, coffee, and equally delicious dinners every night of steaming hot tagines (both, vegetarian and non-vegetarian) followed by dessert.

Both the sides of the ground floor bedroom.

Both the sides of the first floor bedroom. Comfortably sleeps four people.

The attic bedroom and bath.

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Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil, Morocco.

Heaven on Earth for sure!! WOW!! What views!!

At the base of the Atlas Mountains, Kasbah du Toubkal, is a gorgeous little lodge that offers a tranquil place to take in the beauty of the snow peaked mountains, the sweet little villages, rivers and waterfalls, and fantastic hikes into the craggy mountains.

The 5 hour hike that we embarked on was not very strenuous (our 12 year old nephew could do it!) but it was very fulfilling. The path led across a now-dry river bed and wound it’s way around the mountain. It was so very quiet with only the birds chirping. We aimed to reach the next village but could not make it because of lack of time.

So we headed back for a hot lunch of beef tagine and a vegetable tagine served with freshly baked bread, freshly squeezed orange juice, olives, butter and a dessert of sliced oranges sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Lip smacking good. Whole and hearty!

It really is a beautiful place for bone deep relaxation. It did wonders for our souls to sit up there, and read, and meditate, walk up winding paths in silence, eat wholesome, fresh food, and just be with nature.

It also made me wonder if the people who live there realise what a treasure trove of natural beauty they have right outside their doors and windows. They wake up, every single morning, to that glorious mountain and the stream that runs down it. Caught up in daily cares, does one, can one become de-sensitized to all that beauty? I don’t think so. Their kindness, their humility, their sweetness of nature, and willingness to help us was a reflection of the beauty of the place. Whether they are consciously aware of the fact, or not, it has become a part of their own true nature, too. Or so I believe anyway.:)

I think everyone must visit this place at least once if possible.

  • They have free wifi.
  • Breakfast is included in the price.
  • They offer hikes for an extra cost. Do not miss the one that takes you to the base of a waterfall. You can dabble your feet in the cold, cold water while sipping on freshly squeezed orange juice!
  • Our Garden House room had a kitchen, a dining room, and a small washing machine, and balconies with a fantastic view of the Atlas Mountains. It could easily sleep 10.
  • There is a 15 minute, up hill hike to get to the Kasbah. You can walk up or take a mule up. The luggage is carried by mules.
  • They have a conference room for meetings and such.
  • There is a Hamam which is included in the price.
  • It is one of National Geographic’s ‘Unique Lodges of the World’.

 

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The entrance to the Kasbah.

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The Kasbah.

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The gorgeously carved front door.

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The library.

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The dining room.

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The entrance to our room.

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A small sitting area in our room. Notice the glass door to the left. They ran almost the entire length of the living/dining room. They opened up to a balcony with a first class view of the mountains.

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The kitchen and dining.

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View from our room!

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The same view on a cloudy morning.

On our hike…

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A shop along the way.

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The clay oven that bakes fresh bread every single day.

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Spring!

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Just chillin’!

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Kasbah du Toubkal. The view would have been stunning but for the clouds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick’s Cafe, Casablanca.

Nostalgia!

The one word for this place is Nostalgia. And the second word, elegance. Although, one really wishes it came equipped with Rick (Humphrey Bogart), leaning elegantly and oh-so-non-chalantly on the bar or piano and Sam (Arthur “Dooley” Wilson) playing “As time goes by” on the piano, and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), oozing 0h-so-much-love and charm.

It truly was a wonderful experience. With white walls, swaths of velvety curtains, Moorish lamps throwing out soft yellow light, and pillared balconies looking down on the piano…what a setting, what a mood…! My husband was over the moon happy. It has/had always been his dream to dine at Rick’s Cafe. And there we were. Listening to the piano, sipping on wine, and nibbling on delicacies and the power of dreams.

The food was so good! Every mouthful was delicious! From the appetizers to the desserts!

A true dream come true.

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Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake.

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  • Make a reservation, at least a few days in advance.
  • Make sure you get an email confirmation of your reservation. When you make a reservation through their website, it does NOT automatically send a confirmation. We reserved months in advance but when we got there on the first night in Casablanca, we were told that we did not have a reservation due to lack of confirmation. Fortunately, we were in Casablanca on our final night in Morocco and were able to get one with the help of the kindly manager in Park Suites Hotel.

Mederssa Ben Youssef, Marrakech

Sometimes one is simply unable to wrap one’s mind around the sheer breadth and depth of human craftmanship. All you can do is stand in awe and gape, slack jawed, at the immensity and beauty of it all. Just breathe it in and be present to the magnificence.

An Islamic College in Marrakesh, Mederssa Ben Youssef, is the largest Mederssa in Morocco. Built in the 14th century, it has supremely intricate and exquisite cedar, marble, and stucco carvings. It has 130 student cells and may have housed as many as 900 students at one point! From top to bottom, this Mederssa is absolutely awe inspiring!

Closed down in 1960, it was refurbished and reopened in 1982 as a historical site.

  • Entrance fee is 10 dirhams.
  • I recommend hiring a guide who can give you all the interesting tidbits of information.

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The Courtyard.

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One of the classrooms.

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A quiet doorway to learning.

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After all the hubbub of the streets, these little classrooms are quiet, cool, and serene. A perfect place to pray and study.

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Just look at those carvings!!

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Exquisite, no?

 

Bahia Palace.

Bahia means beautiful. A fitting name for this jewel of a palace.

Built to house the 4 wives and 24 concubines of Ahmed Ibn Moussa (or Ba Ahmed), it is studded with exquisite wood carvings, mosaics, tile work, tiny explosions of colour in every square inch. It is delicate, intricate, and a labyrinth of a palace.

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Photo, courtesy of our nephew, Vaibhav.

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Photo, courtesy of our nephew, Vaibhav.

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Photo, courtesy of our nephew, Vaibhav.