Posted on May 16, 2016
Last Saturday I was home for my son’s graduation and my daughter’s birthday. We had lunch with family in the Tennessee hills and watched The Kentucky Derby, traditionally toasted with Mint Juleps.
This weekend I was back in Morocco where I had lunch with friends in the high Atlas Mountains and road mules to the Berber home where we were traditionally greeted with mint tea.
Last week I wished my dad could have seen his grandson graduate, and yesterday I wished he could have ridden with me in a land so rugged, so beautiful. Always interested in American Indian culture and nature, he would have appreciated the history of the Berbers, the indigenous people of the Atlas Mountains and Dades Valley—land like Colorado where he hunted and like Arizona where our favorite westerns were set. Seen from a saddle, the sweeping grandeur of Imlil made me feel like I was in a movie. No wonder. The village is where trekkers come to scale Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. Seven Years in Tibet was partially filmed here.
In Imlil, our host, Lahcen of Authentic Toubkal Lodge, met us with the muleteers at our car. He is a friend of Kate who had invited me to join her and her daughter, Amy, just arrived from Melbourne.
Posted on March 5, 2015
All winter, especially when stressed, I’ve looked to the Atlas Mountains from whence cometh my strength. Surrounding Marrakesh the snowy sentinels protect my heart and mind, particularly when work gets stressful. I take my lunch and take to the hills. Literally. Staring at their beauty is a breather that calms my soul.
Seeing pictures from home of Kentucky and Tennessee buried under record snow made me want to join the fun from afar. When teaching there I prayed with my kids that Channel 4’s Snowbird (a puppet penguin) would say schools were closed. NEVER did I get the time off they’ve gotten this year.
With predictions that temps in Marrakesh would climb to the low 80s this week, we wanted to play in the snow at least once this winter while it remained. So last Saturday I went to Oukaïmeden, a ski resort 75 kilometers from Marrakesh. There was one seat left in Ismail’s van which coworkers rented for the day. Who else would we trust to drive us on possibly icy roads winding 10,500 feet up?
We left at 8 AM and by 10 were having jam, bread, and fresh squeezed OJ overlooking the slopes.
Only one of us skied this trip, using a guide, while the rest of us sledded.
Even whiter and brighter than the snow on the bunny slopes were simultaneous smiles. And even louder than the rap Red Bull played for the ski competition was the sound of laughter.