Bedouin & Breakfast

Slim Paley, Morocco

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“I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.” 
― Michael OndaatjeThe English Patient

Yes, that.

So we jumped at the opportunity to spend a sand-swept day and star-filled night in the wilds of the desert at the end our Moroccan adventure.

( it’s almost over…just 1 more post-after this one :) )

890A7354We departed from our hotel located in the outskirts of the city of Ouarzazete by helicopter

890A7365a 50 minute journey over epic scenery

L1020995which we loved…albeit ever vigilant for potential emergency landing spots (see it?!)

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890A7367Incredible to see how specks of verdant green popped up occasionally

L1030005and the lengths some people will go to to ‘unplug’

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rtwgdWhile it’s true that my friend and I did ever so slightly miss the presence of Ralph…

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and couldn’t help but give Omar a thought

or two…

Sand peopleThe hotel camp had us covered!

Moroccan desert tentThe tents were amazing

Glamping, Moroccan desertCrisp white sheets, hot water bottles and a private loo. You can just imagine my happiness.

Gordon's gin, Slim Paley photoMore Happiness

(P.S. Gordon’s Gin people, please feel free to contact me for the photo :-))

Slim Paley, MoroccoSlim Sandy

890A7485‘The desert could not be claimed or owned—it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones’

from The English Patient.

L1150138Tagine served from a huge earthenware pot

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L1030076What we listened to under the canopy of a billion stars?

“Us & Them” from Dark Side of the Moon of course!

(click for mandatory listening please!)


and as I’ve learned through experience, there’s something quite magical about watching an old movie while tucked in a tent in the middle of nowhere, I brought my newest old favourite;

The Rains Came

“The Rains Came”

With no irony.

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 8.14.44 PMDawn in the desert

sunrise in the desertA peacefulness one can’t describe

Moroccan desert sunrise

890A7489Strike a pose

Sunrise in the desert

Bedouins_John_Singer_SargentJohn Singer Sargent’s Bedouins

breakfast in the Moroccan desert, Slim PaleyBedouin Breakfast

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a little sand kicking up??

IMG_3558 copyno problem for my ever resourceful, quick thinking friend who manages to eat breakfast, play DJ and start a new style trend at the same time.

Moroccan desert“Ralph…Ralph…We’re here for you…”

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Bedouin watercolours, John SInger SargentThe John Singer Sargent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum  is on now through July 28th

Our desert sojourn was organized by Maison Des Reves

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and have a splendid weekend!

xx

SP

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The Road to Ouarzazete

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So we decide it would be much more fun to take a road trip than to fly to Ouarzazate.

It’s just over the snowcapped High Atlas mountain range you see in the distance.

No biggie.

L1020852The journey takes the better part of 5 1/2 hours and turns out to be one of the highlights of our trip to Morocco.

890A7053We pass through the most amazingly diverse terrain

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890A7174Traffic is wild

890A7001With nary a dull moment

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While much of the drive is immersed in a patchwork of deep green grass and red earth, towards the mountain top things get positively lunar.

And wait…what’s this I see?

Shopping??

890A6983Yes. We found a store.

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Rock Shopping. Dig it.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 10.10.22 PMHappiness!

890A6970The salesperson’s hands

L1020846Just in case you were wondering.

890A7066Coming down the other side of the mountains we detour to Telouet to stop for a delicious lunch

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890A7069and to tour the incredible ruins of Telouet Kasbah, where the likes of General Patton and Churchill were received back in the day.

890A7106Only the storks call it home now but restoration is slowly underway.

890A7087Our extremely knowledgable guide.

If you can believe it, this is how some of the rooms within the ruins are still appointed, despite the dilapidation inside and out.

890A7089Examples of two astonishing archways

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890A7094and a ceiling in one of the grand salons

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890A7115Up on the roof, storm clouds roll in upon lusty winds

890A7130and our “Talitha Getty” photo shoot is foiled (for now :-) )

It was so cold-don’t look at my Uggs.

890A7155Getting closer to our destination, the villages hugging the water’s edge become chameleons against the rocks.

DSC01016Only the satellite dishes give them away

(or their ‘white flowers’ as our driver called them )

890A7168One last ruined kasbah glows in the gorgeous setting sun

and it’s cocktail time for a couple of very dusty ladies.

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We Be Pilgrims

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ADAM’S PEAK or SRI PADA

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“The panorama from the summit of Adam’s Peak is perhaps the grandest in the world, as no other mountain, although surpassing it in altitude , presents the same unobstructed view over land and sea. Around it, to the north and east, the traveller looks down on the zone of lofty hills that encircle the Kandyan kingdom, whilst to the westward the eye is carried far over undulating plains, threaded by rivers like cords of silver, till in the purple distance the glitter of the sunbeams on the sea mark the line of the Indian Ocean” James Emerson Tennent

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Climbed it.

Swear.

My friend and I climbed it in the middle of the night.

Adam's Peak, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

Starting off at the gates to “Sri Pada” (Sacred Footprint)

Imagine a place on this strife-riddled planet where Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims  all walk together, side by side, head to toe, in a peaceful, unified pilgrimage.

 Offering helping hands, sharing water, even carrying those unable to climb without aid,

Mostly in silence or in prayer…

(Ok, my friend and I complained a couple of times but under our breath and not until the very top…)

They are united simply in the spirit of the climb, not in dogma, as each religion holds a different belief about the origins of  the sacred footprint they seek to view at the top of Sri Pada.

And imagine that as each pilgrim takes this harmonious journey, usually commencing in the middle of the night, they are participating in something that  has been taking place for over 1,000 years.

We are all coming to pay our respects to

the large and distinct impression at the top of the mountain measuring aprox. 68″ long by 31″ at toes and 29″ at heel resembling a footprint.

According to Christian legend and closely believed by Muslims

(let’s hear it for the Christians and the Muslims agreeing on something),

Adam was hurled from Paradise for his disobedience and stood in penance for a thousand years on one foot at the top of Adam’s Peak, after which he was reunited with Eve on Mt. Arafat overlooking Mecca.

By the ninth century, this footprint was consequently considered one of the most sacred sites in the world..

 However the imprint was also identified by Buddhists as the Buddha’s footprint, by Hindus as that of Shiva, and later in the 1500′s the Portuguese attributed it to St. Thomas the Apostle.
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Let’s just say it’s a mighty popular footprint.

ascending Adam's Peak in the night, Sri LankaSlim Paley photo

Pardon the poor quality of these  photos but I only have a point & shoot camera and it was very dark and quite cold.

The flickering thread of light you see in the distance are the  climbers going before us.

After  much research and consulting with others we decided that in order to appreciate the full Monty of the Sri Pada experience we too had to venture up in the middle of the night.

A quick trip to a men’s clothing shop to buy appropriate warm  jackets (albeit ones we would normally never be caught dead in that are now sacred garments we’ll never part with!)

An early dinner at the hotel followed by a midnight wake-up call to get layered up and ready for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the base of the mountain.

The idea is to begin the ascent at 2am to assure arrival at the summit in plenty of time to appreciate the sunrise;

“Pilgrims try to reach the summit before dawn to view the grand phenomenon known as the ‘ira-sevaya’ (the effulgence of the rising sun) puncturing the eastern horizon, like a ball of fire, casting a shadow of the mountain to fall on to the valley in the opposite direction, like a cone. The ‘ira sevaya’ is considered to mean the worship of the foot by the sun-god.”

Yo, We be Pilgrims!

Steps of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Slim Paley photo

As you can see, in some places it is quite dark. The steps are rough and would hardly pass code in the United States.
It is 5,200 steps to the top. Seriously. I Shiva you not :)

shopping on Adam's Peak, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

While tempted to shop on the way up (there’s a shocker), I remember that between my water, blanket, camera, sunglasses,iPhone, insect repellent, lip gloss, magnifying mirror and sunscreen, I don’t have a lot of room left.

It did occur to me that a green banana bought at the bottom might well be yellow by the time we reached the top.

fellow climber, Adam's Peak, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

Fashion choices for making the pilgrimage up Sri Pada really run the gamut.

Although some fellow “pilgrims” appeared friendlier than others, It all felt very Jean-Paul Gaultier inspired.

Nearly there…

“no, don’t say that one more time.”

No, seriously, we’re really almost there.

“Shhuuh uup”

60 more steps…

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Here it comes…

The music now is a MUST;


  click on arrow

the summit of Adams Peak, slimpaley.comSkelator Hands at the ready…

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.com

Rising through the heavy duvet of clouds tucked around the shoulders of the mountains

Here Comes the sun…

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.com

 

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

Dawn breaks casting a surreal orange glow upon the faces of the weary climbers huddled out of the wind below the shrine.

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

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Slim Paley photo

Some of our fellow pilgrims

Sunrise, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

At last the sun breaks free and starts to cast the shadows

Slim Paley, summit of Adam's Peak, Sri LankaWhere’s Waldo? I mean Slim??!

Slim Paley, summit of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka.Slim Paley photo

Of course we had no appreciation of how high we actually were until morning came

Slim Paley photo

Top of the World Ma!

Slim Paley photo

Adam’s Peak rises 7,360ft. from the central highlands of Sri Lanka and can be seen by sea rising above the horizon 80 miles before the coastline comes into view

 summit of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, Slimpaley.com

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We were filled with the glory of achievement and excited to make our way down, making the silly assumption that it would be much easier than the ascent.

We were SO wrong. Coming down was brutal. The constant jarring impact of your foot against the unforgiving stone steps was no fun.

I thought if I should ever so much as see another step for the rest of the holiday it would be too soon.

It took us over 3 hours to come down! We walked sideways like crabs for the next 3 days, explaining to anyone and everyone that we had

“CLIMBED ADAM’S PEAK”

Naturally most of the shops were closed up.

We managed to find a few that were open and got awfully excited when we thought this was FUDGE.

Flies or no flies, that moment of “Fuuuuudddggge” that pranced across my brain was so exciting while it lasted.

Alas, not sure what it was but it wasn’t fudge-still I did consider buying it to put in my left shoe…

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.And all up and down- Yay Us!!

 Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, Slimpaley.com

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Can I tell you how lovely it was to come back to this welcome at our cozy hotel nestled in the tea fields (and be carried up the stairs?!!)

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Are YOU in the mood for Adventure yet?!

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For more information on Adam’s Peak click here; Sacred Sites

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Sweet Summer Memories

.Rafting, Salmon River, IdahoSlim Paley

Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

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I‘m baaaack

and keeping Summer Hours

as you may have noticed  :)

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Salmon River , IdahoSlim Paley photo

But I’m all in one piece,

and had the most brilliant time

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Osa Johnson book

My Survival Kit remains sealed

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Slim Paley photo

We traveled over the majestic Sawtooth Mountains into Idaho’s River of No Return Wilderness area.

 At one point (by land, not water) we actually crossed the spot where Lewis & Clark decided to turn back.

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Ya, we did.

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Rafting in IdahoSlim Paley Photo

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River has many moods…

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.on the river in IdahoSlim Paley photo

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Salmon River, IdahoSlim Paley

All equally beautiful

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Summer in IdahoSlim Paley Photo

River’s edge in Idaho is no slouch either

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River camping in IdahoSlim Paley photo

Our camp in the middle of paradise

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Slim Paley Photo

Snakes were wrestled

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roasted marshmallows

Giant marshmallows  slaughtered

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waterfallsSlim Paley photo

Waterfalls conquered.

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one pot cornbreadSlim Paley Photo

Ahhnd… then we ate cake :)

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orange berriesSlim Paley photo

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wooden outhouseSlim Paley photo

We definitely communed with Nature,

however I’ll spare you “Le Groover Chronicles”

Suffice it to say that old friendships were cemented and new ones quickly forged.

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.hermit's shackSlim Paley photo

One day we came upon the deserted lodgings of an infamous Middle Fork River hermit.  With only a dog for company, he lived in this 8 X 8 structure for over 35 years, traveling to town just once a year for not much more than bullets, flour and salt.

 I really couldn’t have imagined we had anything in common…

until I heard he also hoarded  magazines.

Of course he used his to pack the spaces between the logs of his house as he had an extreme aversion to rats.

Odd lifestyle choice, considering.

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Hiking the river, IdahoSlim Paley

Speaking of packing… all in all I think I did pretty well- though in retrospect 4 hats and 3 books may have been a wee bit excessive.

A decent sized mirror would have been a much better choice.

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Slim Paley

Party over :(

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.Great portable campaign chair

.I live to glamp another day.

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Oh, PS.

I just realized this is my 301st post!

That means I’ve been blogging for just over two years now.

What a wonderful Blogmance it’s been- who could have predicted it would last this long?

  Thank you so very much for all the memories and for never cheating on me…

Uh…We have been faithful, haven’t we??!

xxx

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PPS.  For the most incredible rafting adventure you could ever wish for please visit:

 Far & Away Adventures

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Africa Redux

AfricaSlim Paley photo

The sun rises over Africa, taken from the bedroom of our second destination

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A slice of Heaven at the Samburu “Save the Elephants” camp run by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton

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100_1288Slim Paley photo

Posting that  amazing picture of my pilates trainer in Africa sparked my desire to look through the photos I took when our family went on safari a couple of years ago.  We visited Kenya and Tanzania, and stayed at 4 different camps, each unforgettable and spectacular in their own unique way.  My personal favourite was Cottar’s 1920′s Mara Safari Camp as it fulfilled my every fantasy of an African Safari Experience (read; pith helmets and gramophones-Meryl in that outfit she wears when she first steps off the train-you get the picture) We had the great pleasure of being hosted by Calvin Cottar himself, whose family goes back generations in Africa.  We also adored The Samburu Elephant Watch camp (our boy’s favourite) run by the amazing Iain and Oria Douglas- Hamilton in Kenya.  Such happy memories of our arrival in a thunderous downpour of rain; hot tea and biscuits swiftly served (and even more swiftly stolen by cheeky monkeys!) followed by a stunning sunset and suspenseful Jenga tournaments between our boys and Sambu warriors, with Oria and Iain cheering on. It was our very first day and our only rainstorm in Africa and we couldn’t have been more cozy nestled in the gorgeous colourful tents of Samburu.

Bliss- I want to go back right now!

One or two G & T’s and I might even try suspending myself off the roll bar of a jeep too!

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Slim Paley photo

A Very Special Day

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Stormy skies overhead

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The main tent at Calvin Cottar’s 1920′s Safari Camp

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Calvin Cottar’s camp tent

The last spot on our itinerary was Singita, another Colonial Lover’s dream destination;

Singita Camp, TanzaniaSlim Paley photo

Singita Camp, Tanzania

Singita Camp, Tanzania

Singita Camp, Tanzania

Glamping, Singita, TanzaniaSlim Paley photo

Singita Camp, Tanzania

Now this is my kind of tent :)

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Calvin Cottar’s 1920′s camp

best camping toilet everSlim Paley photo (the loo in the tent at Singita)

Best Porto Potty Ever??

Damn I love camping!!

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