Intro

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Atlas Kasbah, Agadir

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Anticipating what is said to be one of the worst snow storms that Seattle has seen in decades I find myself sitting on the couch, waiting for the snow with a beer in hand and falling deeply back into the images from Morocco. I have so much more to share with you all and I feel that if I don’t do it now it may never happen as February brings with it a new set of fun excursions. (!!)

Using my journal from that trip as a guide I’m reliving the details. At the end of each day I made a scattered list of all that that day entailed. I’ve learned from previous experiences that I tend to quickly forget the details and it’s in those where the real journey lies.

Each day was packed full of new sites, new sounds, and not enough sleep, leaving little time to write so what I do have written down is quite cryptic but it’s enough to help me return to that place.

On the fourth day we woke up at the Atlas Kasbah in Agadir. The stucco-like facade covered an exterior that resembled a castle. The surrounding landscape reminded me of the Umbrian region of Italy where I would look out over the cliffs of Orvieto and see vineyards, monasteries, and long winding roads leading to places I wanted to explore. Here the rolling hills weren’t covered in grape vines but of Argan trees and plants that looked prickly even from the distance of where I stood. The varying brown hues and absence of much green was a welcoming reminder that I was indeed in Africa.

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The Atlas Kasbah is the dream of a husband and wife team. The kasbah is welcoming and immediately sets the scene of a place for respite and rejuvenation. I encouraged such behavior and found myself laying by a pale blue pool in the middle of November having just had a traditional Moroccan spa treatment. I lay back in the chaise for a moment soaking in the warmth of the sun and this rare moment of complete and utter relaxation.

You see those moments are a distant memory when three children are my daily routine. I was torn between the desire to just sit in that moment or record a few of the details in my journal as a way to sort of safe-keep that moment so I could live off of it for the months to come.

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I anticipated the points in my days when I would need to stop and find a piece of that sun-filled happy place in order to find perspective in the midst of a messy house, screaming children, and an uncooked dinner.

Briefly I wrote of that hot sun and how the gentle breeze would interrupt at just the right moment, never allowing you to get too hot but making you miss its warmth before it returned. It took only a few seconds but I wrote of the pool and the vibrant gardens, the rosy orange glow of the kasbah at sunset, and the smell of Moroccan basil – softer and more subtle than our varieties. Then I lingered in that place cementing it in my mind and appreciating every aspect of it.

The scribbled details weren’t much but as the snow threatens and the kids perform their nightly regime of warding off sleep I am so thankful that I wrote.

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Our last two days were in Marrakech and it is here that I vowed to return to this country. It seems that in every foreign country I visit it is always the city that I most love. The energy of its people, the sounds of excitement and life, and the smells; so inviting, yet so different.

I found it hard walking as with every step I found an image that I wanted to preserve. The colors filled me with inspiration in shades of blue and orange. I picked up a few items in the souk to help me relive fragments of Morocco and its culture – a tagine, spices like harissa, and ras al hanout, mint tea, and a pair of vibrant orange pointed shoes that I wear around our house daily.

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At the end of our day we found silence and calm at the Four Seasons. I snuck deep into the bed eagerly anticipating the nightly Facetime date with my family. Over the phone I kissed and hugged each of my kids. I talked to a very tired husband who spoke freely of how excited he was that only two days separated us. I was excited too but also fearful.

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Right after the page in my journal detailing the scene surrounding me and the warm Moroccan sun I wrote, “I’m afraid to leave for fear I’ll never return.”

It goes without saying that I missed my family it’s just that I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted them to fetch a plane and meet me in Morocco instead of me heading home.

What better way to leave a place than not wanting to leave? The memories of that place are forever set to induce a pleasant longing. When you talk to others about it your entire face lights up and your insides swell. It becomes a mission, of sorts, to encourage others to venture there and demand they take you with them when they do go.

I do hope to return, but for now I am living in the details and in the feeling of never wanting to leave that place.

*update* The snow came and we’re at about 5 inches or so. For Seattle that’s life changing.

*Also, I made a blurb book from images from my trip. Many you’ve seen on the blog. The reason I tell you is more of a suggestion of what to do with travel photos. Instead of sitting on my computer I now have a beautiful coffee table book to peruse at my leisure and to share with others. As far as I know you can purchase the book if you want but I don’t make much, if any, money on it. Just wanted to share.

*Finally, thank you. I feel as if I forced you all to sit through my travel slideshow but rather than fall asleep and roll your eyes (well, maybe some of you did that) I was overwhelmed by the gracious responses to these posts. Thanks so much for encouraging me to share.

*Last thing, I promise. I was graciously sent to Morocco by the Moroccan tourism board. All photos and words are my own.


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56 Responses to “Reliving the details: Morocco”

  1. Julianne

    Thank you for sharing these breathtaking photos, as well as the pictures your words form in the mind’s eye. I can see why you were seduced by this place and hope I get a chance visit sometime.

    Reply
  2. MG Atwood

    Oh how beautiful to look at these colorful photos while the gray sky above me is pelting my window with cold splashes. I long for sunshine…I think even looking at the white snow would be better than this. You make me want to visit Morroco.

    Reply
  3. Brenda

    This was a beautiful palette of color in my day of toddler-won’t-nap busy-ness. Thanks again for your words and photos.

    Reply
  4. Katya

    I am a traveler, but never been to morocco. Would love to someday. I’m only in college so I have plenty of time. Your pictures are stunning. My parents spent some time in Morocco many years agro and I shared your pics with them. The colors, the life. You captured it all. Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Katya

    I am a traveler, but I never been to morocco. Would love to someday. I’m only in college so I have plenty of time. Your pictures are stunning. My parents spent some time in Morocco many years ago, and I shared your pics with them. The colors, the life. You captured it all. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. becca

    made my mouth water! any tips on where to eat in Marrakech, heading over there in a few weeks….. thanks.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Becca – I’m afraid I don’t. We ate at the Four Seasons – which was amazing. We only ate at one restaurant and I don’t remember the name. Every thing I ate there was amazing. Please do report back when you come home.

      Reply
  7. zoe

    ”What better way to leave a place than not wanting to leave?”
    this is so true, and i feel that way every time i go on a holiday.

    gorgeous photographs and lovely words.

    Reply
  8. Erica

    Wow. I’ve never really thought of visiting Morocco, but you can tell the Moroccan Tourism Board that your pictures make me anxious to experience this vibrant, mysterious country. Morocco has made its way onto my list!

    Reply
  9. Moira

    Beautiful story! We are in Vancouver, BC and didn’t quite receive the 5 inches that you did. Still, these pictures are just the thing to yearn for, sitting with a warm cup of coffee :)

    Reply
  10. Melissa

    I am insanely jealous. The place looks amazing and you did such a great job capturing the moments and beauty in picutres.

    Reply
  11. SallyBR

    Thank you so much for a virtual trip to a place I hope to see one day, so magical, so beautiful!

    Loved this post, every single word and image!

    Reply
  12. Liza in Ann Arbor

    I’ve been trying to find my own sunny, warm place lately (it’s been so ugly and depressing in Michigan-I would welcome snow!) so I know exactly what you mean! Would love to take a trip to Morocco one day. Your photos are inspiring me.

    Reply
  13. nicole

    Thanks for these – I’ve never been to Morocco but actually am moving there next year (!) so am glad to see a little bit of what to expect. I hope you’re able to get back sometime soon.

    Reply
  14. Megan

    Wowza! Beauiful photos. I have been looking at several photo book making websites to use for a trip my family recently took. Could you share which version of BLURB you used? Was it the Full Creative Control Version using Adobe ID? Thanks!

    Reply
  15. Megan

    Those pictures are stunning. I can feel the warmth of the sun even while staring at a dark and frozen lake in Wisconsin :) And I am more than excited to see where your next adventure takes you!

    Reply
  16. Margaret Baron

    Enjoyed your trip pictures and writings from Morraco. Looking forward to the Holland trip?

    Reply
  17. Joan Nova

    I hope a big publishing house sees this post. Forget your coffee table. Your images and storytelling are much more deserving of a place in Barnes + Noble.

    Reply
  18. Chloe

    I remember when you first posted about Morocco: day one. I was sitting in a beautiful riad in Marrakesh, enjoying the afternoon sunshine and drinking sweet mint tea. A little excitable due to the caffeine in the tea, I nearly fell off my chair to see that you were in Morocco, experiencing the sights and sounds and smells of this amazing country at the same time I was, and how you captured the place on film. I was also excited to read that your trip was sponsored by the Moroccan tourist board! Someday, maybe I’ll be sponsored to travel too :)

    Reply
  19. Pennie Azran

    Such a lovely story and eye-popping photos of Morocco, that really capture its essence in the most beautiful way. You’ve made me long to return to Marrakesh–such a strange and magical place…thank you for sharing your memories.

    Reply
  20. Stash

    this post encapsulates why I love your blog so.

    I feel like I can live vicariously through your photographs and wonderful writing. and the recipes are just gravy.

    Reply
  21. Kasey

    When I travel to new places, even when I am ready to go home to my routine, my family, my friends, I get overtaken by a sadness…that same fear you talk about–of never being able to return. I think it’s best to think of travels such as this as opportunities to live as fully as possible, and know that the future is full of surprises. I loved your beautiful journal of photos and words. Stay warm lovely! xoxo

    Reply
  22. javi

    I’ve been lurking your site for a while and just wanted to say how much i LOVE LOVE LOVE your way of capturing the essence of morocco. I grew up in the middle east and your journey really brought home to me how homesick I am living here in the US.

    What a wonderful journey and thanks for sharing it so eloquently with the rest of us. Must add morocco to my list of places I want to see some day.

    Reply
  23. Chloe

    Ashley,
    I was in Morocco for three weeks total, a week in Marrakesh, a week in Essaouira and Tagazoute, and a week spent riding camels in the Sahara and visiting Fes and Chefchaouen. It was the most eye opening experience, and always so visually stimulating- often to the point where I couldn’t even talk to my traveling companions- it would have been sensory overload!
    @Becca- everywhere you turn there are places to eat in Marrakesh- you’ll have no trouble. The food market set up at night in the main square Djemma el Fna which is a really interesting experience, but the food is better elsewhere. I really liked the Souk Cafe- unfortunately the maze of the markets is impossible to direct people around, but if you ask a local, they’ll be more than happy to guide you there. They have a lovely rooftop terrace to eat on and the food is served out of the most beautiful pottery. Let me know if you’re headed to Essaouira too, there is the most amazing street food man there!

    Reply
  24. Megan Gordon

    “What better way to leave a place than not wanting to leave? ” : The sign of a very fine trip, isn’t it? I just can’t get enough of your images from Morocco, Ashley. It looks like such a beautiful, vibrant country … like no place I’ve ever visited. When I was in high school, I went with my french class on this really weird cruise and we stopped off in Turkey for a hot second. While only there for I think a few hours, I do remember how colorful and fragrant everything was, even in that port city. I’m sure it was warming looking through the photos on your recent snow week (wow!!)

    Reply
  25. Morgan Jackson

    Thank you so much for your beautiful words and photographs. As I sit at my desk, feeling like a prisoner behind four-carpeted walls of a cubicle, I can read about your journal and it helps free me from the monotony of my work day. I can relate with your feelings of not wanting to leave such a wonderful vacation, as my new husband and I just returned from our honeymoon in Bora Bora. I look over my pictures at least twice a day, and re-read the words in my journal that I am keeping for ‘our first year’. What a great blessing it is to be able to travel the world! I look forward to hearing more about Morocco!

    Reply
  26. Taru

    Beautiful. Sometimes it is, in fact, better to travel alone to be able to capture everything your eye feels intrigued by, without distraction.

    Reply
  27. joey

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful images here…there is no way I could nod off to sleep looking at them! I love to travel and that feeling of having a place get inside you and “make your insides swell”. I haven’t taken a trip is a while, I have a child now and a husband, and time and budget are otherwise allocated, but I do draw on those magic moments in lands far away when I am feeling overwhelmed. Keep warm and keep on posting!

    Reply
  28. Lisa

    I just looked through your Blurb book – you captured the colors so beautifully. I love the architecture, the people, the food. I visited as a kid and would love to go back someday, your images brought back so many memories, thank you!

    Reply
  29. allie

    marrakech is one of my favorite cities in the world [dinner for 30 cents, how can you not love it!] and getting lost in the souks… in the midst of the chaos its a beautiful city.

    i wish i had your photography skills, though, your photos are incredible!

    Reply
  30. Elle

    These photos are beautiful. I must confess that Morocco is one of my favorite countries. Two nights ago I saw the 70th anniversary for Casablanca (Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman). Every time I see the movie, it still takes me to Casablanca. If your still in Morocco, there is a lady, , who recreated the entire hotel from the movie. Its amazing (the hotel, Rick’s Cafe) is currently in Casablanca, Morocco. http://www.rickscafe.ma/ (Kathy is formerly with the state department)
    If you get a chance you should check it out. Best and safe travels,

    Reply

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