While the new collection rugs have been making their way back to Australia these last few weeks - I've been busy making my way around the South of Morocco.
With yoga camps in the Sahara, stays in ancient kasbahs, desert music festivals, and visiting local artisans (and sharing it all over here on instagram)
On my 37th birthday last week I woke up in an 18th century kasbah in Tamnougalt with the most incredible sunrise over the mountains. The Berber symbols above this doorway reading FREEDOM OF THE WORLD - And that’s exactly the right words to sum up how I’m feeling at the moment after the last few months of Moroccan adventures.
The south of Morocco has a stillness and a calm to it that is pretty magical. It's all date palms, mountains and desert as far as the eye can see - and the feeling like you could be totally on your own out in the world "somewhere".
The drive from Marrakech down south is a full day of a winding roads and a steep climb up through the Atlas Mountains to Ouarzarzate - the popular tourist town where most will stop to visit the incredible UNESCO site the Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou and other ancient sites in the area. Made famous by Hollywood movies over the years like Gladiator and Game of Thrones.
For a less touristy stop - I can also totally recommend a visit to Telouet. A small village with a beautiful mosaic filled kasbah that was a stop over on the old caravan routes and off the main tourist track a bit so you'll need to be in a 4WD to get out there. It has my all time most favourite window in Morocco... it's just beautiful.
Continuing on the road trip - Once you get a few more hours further down the road to the Saharan regions is where the real magic starts.
One of my trips down south this year was to Merzouga with a group of wonderful women on a yoga retreat with Nosade tours. A local company run by German yoga instructor Anica and her Berber husband Yidir, a Merzouga local. (Who also have a really lovely small riad in Marrakech that I called home for much of last month)
A week of exploring mountain villages, deserted kasbahs, moonscapes, camel rides into the sunset and meditation amongst the dunes was a pretty special trip and welcome break from the crazy of Marrakech. And the head space I didn't realise I needed until it was there.
Berber music around the fire at night, the clearest view of the milky way I've ever seen, naughty run away camels, and impromtu 10km treks on foot across the desert were all part of this wonderful week I'll remember forever. And a great way to meet and spend time with some wonderful people from all around the world.
My second trip south was a few weeks later with friends from Marrakech including my fellow rug lady Souk and Soul, to check out a super local music festival - the Festival of Taragalte - set in the dunes under the stars of the Sahara.
In November each year the village of M'hamed hosts the festival, which is in it's 10th year - for 3 days of nomadic culture and bands, and other world music - so I had to check it out.
There's permanent camping options on site available - but we stayed in near by Tagounite at the beautiful Kasbah Ait Isfoul and drove in each day which was a great way to do it. I'm ruined.. can never go back to festival camping again after this...
This beautiful kasbah was built by the owner's grandfather, featuring some incredible carpets handmade by his grandmother over 50 years ago - and is now run as a place to welcome travellers through the region. It has the most beautiful earthy interiors, incredible lap-pool, beautifully prepared communal dinners, and swaying date palms as far as you can see.
Also a homebase to the boys from quite locally famous southern Moroccan desert band Daraa Tribes who we were lucky enough to have also staying and jamming back at the kasbah post festival. Possibly more fun than the festival itself.
Have a listen if you want to hear the type of music played at the festival - these are the North African sounds and vibes that accompany every road trip around Morocco - it just adds to the magic of traveling through the desert.
En route back to Marrakech last week there was plenty of stop offs to break up the long trip. A family workshop in Tamegrout to see how the famous green style of pottery from the south is made, womens cooperatives for the weaving of baskets and boucherouite rugs, silver jewellery makers, and ancient kasbahs full to the roof of incredible antiques. Mind blown again and again by the amount of history, stories and beauty of these cultural relics.
Getting out to these regional towns and villages there's so much to see of Morocco's artisans and industry, continuing family trades and traditions through the decades. And where all the hard work happens before their wares make it to the souks of the big cities.
On the long journey back to Marrakech there was lots of reflecting on what a wild and wonderful ride these last few days, months and years have been. As well as being my birthday month (Hello fellow Scorpios..) November also marks the three year anniversary of launching Nouvelle Nomad, my "life after corporate" business journey, and four years of adventures in Magical Morocco - but I feel like it’s only just getting started with scratching the surface of what’s to come, explore, do, learn and share.
I'm already planning the next Southern adventure - with the famous carpet making region of Taznakht on my hit list to visit next, where a lot of my most favourite vintage pieces over the years have come from. As well as checking out the famous Boujaad area - everyone knows the name Boujaad from the prolific amount of rugs that come from this area that Australians tend to love - but what do we actually know about the city!? I'll be heading that way soon enough to see for myself.
But for now I'll be staying put for a little while in Marrakech which has become my second home. Currently apartment hunting and getting back into the swing of slightly routine life. Moroccan Summer ended with a thud this week and the cold jacket wearing weather is kicking in. It's a mild Winter on the Winter scale, but is definitely time for a bit more hibernation, life logistics and planning what's next for 2020. The next adventures will have to wait until the sun comes out again.
Thanks to you all for being on this wonderful journey with me, it’s been a joy sharing it with you these last few years. And I'm planning on sharing a whole lot more on the journal now that I have some stillness and time. I hope it's inspired a little bit of travel planning, a solo adventure, or perhaps a trip to Morocco for you.
And Morocco - Shukran (thank you) for the last few years of adventures, kindness, hospitality, friendships, inspiration, art and “freedom of the world.”
I look forward to what magic the next chapter will bring.