Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite

Monday, October 5, 2015

That One Time I Joined a Motorcycle Gang

Bookmark and Share


Motorcycle Gang is a bit of an exaggeration. 

Maybe I joined a part-time ATV Gang in the desert - or no gang at all - but it was still pretty badass to ride four-wheelers in the desert with nothing but dust and goats for miles.

grey jumpsuit pose
Modeling my action figure after this pose
"Mona Lisa on a motorcycle gang"

La Pause resort in Agafay 
Having no wifi killed the possibility of posting anything substantial during the trip but I'm picking up where I left off -- at La Pause in the stone desert. On our third day in Morocco we had an awesome time riding ATVs for several hours.

Before our trip, Traci had asked whether or not I wanted to ride "quad bikes" at La Pause, she also asked me several times throughout the trip and I said, "no" because it was never fully explained to me. In my mind's eye I saw a bicycle with four wheels, more like the first photo below, but "quad bike" turned out to be what we know as an "ATV" (all terrain vehicle).  

If someone says "QUAD BIKE" - this is what comes to mind
Why would I do this? I wouldn't

Quad Bikes at La Pause
Quad Bikes - aka ATVs - lined up outside La Pause
Waiting for us to ride them into the sun

When we pulled up to La Pause the "quad bikes" were lined up outside, the first thing I saw when we arrived, and I shouted, "I'm doing that!" How was I to know that was what was meant by quad bike!? 

We signed up for a 2.5 hour ride for the following morning, which had to be pushed back to a late afternoon quad bike tour. Someone wasn't feeling too great in the morning due to her reverie from the night before. You can't chase "the techno" all night, wake up in the morning and go off-roading, well I can, but you in general cannot! 

Mustafa helps Traci with her goggles 
Over her helmut and giant sunglasses

Just admit it! 
We look pretty tough, like Charlie's Angels

Once we got the hang of it
Mustafa and his little buddy rode beside us for a while, keeping us trapped safely on the road, ensuring we didn't drive off the side of a sand hill. Once we got the hang of it, the little buddy left us with Mustafa who guided us at a slightly accelerated speed. As the afternoon went on, and Mustafa felt he could trust us not to die, we moved a bit faster and over some more hilly terrain. 

We spent the entire afternoon driving through sunny little villages, looking at donkeys, sheep herders and what we think were abandoned buildings. A beautiful backdrop for a tranquil afternoon with nothing to do but enjoy. 

donkey in agafay
Our good friend the donkey
Things we saw on our ride through the desert

Quad bike rides at La Pause
Eat my dust!
Being in the back, I ate a lot of Traci's dust

Quad Bike Ride
Sheep herders make way for us
This was the only group of sheep (or goats) we saw on our ride

Leyla and Traci on ATVs
Looking refreshed at the end of the ride
It's a 110 degrees out there but it only feels like 100 on the bikes

Read More Posts: 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scheduled Sunsets for Modern Nomads

Bookmark and Share


La Pause lodge located just outside Marrakech is a modern nomad's paradise. 

Scheduling in time for a champagne toast at sunset is a top activity at this desert oasis!

Veuve Cliquot at sunset in Marrakech
Celebrating and Remembering at La Pause

Arriving at La Pause - Marrakech 
The day after we arrived in Morocco, we checked out of Dar Karma, the riad where we stayed for one night, and traveled approximately 30 kilometers outside of Marrakech to an eco-lodge in the stone desert called La Pause. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this little gravel getaway because my friend Traci planned every last excursion on this trip, along with the hotels and flights. I knew little about Morocco and absolutely nothing about La Pause - it was sure to be an adventure but you'll have to read on and find out for yourself. 

La Pause Eco-lodge Desert Oasis
La Pause Lodge in Marrakech
Stone desert retreat about 40 minutes from the old city

We arranged for transportation with the La Pause and departed from Dar Karma in the afternoon. It was a short and easy drive, approximately 30-45 mins from the old city. Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff who assisted us with our luggage and helped us get acquainted with our luxurious, yet rustic, accommodations. 

Arrival at La Pause desert lodge
Arriving at La Pause
The staff kindly carried our oversized bags up the gravel road to the main lodge

La Pause Desert Lodge
Our Private Lodge (or pise de terre) at La Pause
No electricity means no air conditioning and only candle light at night

We walked into our lodge and our eyes lit up. The tiny adobe-esque house felt primitive enough where we could allow our imaginations to run wild and picture how the Berbers of yesteryear must've lived - if the Berber's of yesteryear had the towels in their bathrooms artistically folded and shaped into swans each morning. 

Bathroom at La Pause desert lodge
Our Bathroom at La Pause
Beautiful stone wash basins and an open shower - not shown is a private toilet 
(in case you were wondering)

Modern Nomads
Traci and I both investigated the premises, poking around and snapping up photos, and then I came to one obvious conclusion - we had no electrical outlets. That's when Traci exclaimed, "I told you, there is no electricity!" I did not recall her ever saying this and I was not convinced, surely there had to be electricity in our gorgeous lodge. It was not until we returned to our room late that night, and had to light 100,000 candles to see our hands in front of our faces, that I FINALLY got it - we had no electricity - for real. 

Leyla relaxing at the desert lodge la pause marrakech
Candlelit Room at La Pause
Modern nomad in the moonlight (with glowing eggs on loan from the staff at La Pause)

You won't find a lobby at La Pause, just a main common area with wicker chairs, tables and pillows for relaxing and possibly having a snack or aperitif. In case you are wondering, there is no electricity OR wifi in the common area. All of the common areas are outdoors, there's no place to plug anything in, and as for wifi, believe me you, I searched for a wifi signal and if I cannot find internet it means there is no internet. 

Common Areas at La Pause
Sit down and make a friend, have a cold drink or star gaze

We stood in the open air until we were greeted by a casual but pleasant man who smiled in our direction, he seemed to know who we were and why we were there. The man introduced himself as Mustafa, he extended his hand to shake mine, his welcoming demeanor was unusual in all the best ways, his warmth was unlike that of others, a sort of hospitality I had not experienced in other places. I suddenly knew I had come to the right place. 

Oddly, I feel like I'm describing The Hotel California... (and btw, I've been there too)

Scheduled Sunsets
Traci asked Mustafa about our schedule but he appeared slightly puzzled by the question. I later realized that his confusion was derived from the use of the word "schedule". There wasn't a schedule or an agenda, everything was at our leisure and we were not required to do anything but relax and enjoy the beautiful grounds. Mustafa confirmed that we were to have a camel ride just before sundown, about 5:30 or 6PM, the camel would wait for us. Afterwards, we would enjoy an aperitif up on a high point while we watched the sun go down and come back down for dinner. 

Camel Rides at Sunset in Morocco
Jacob my Camel at La Pause
We rode these bad boys into the sunset

 Camel Rides at La Pause
If you want to go fast, go alone... if you want to go far, go together...
Whatever the objective, don't take a camel because you'll do neither 

For someone who has spent a lifetime planning every minute of every day (that would be me), scheduling the workday with meetings, conference calls and other "important" things, I felt uncomfortable or slightly panicked at the thought of doing nothing. I've been known to say, "I hate to relax" -- I prefer the chaos of a busy life and I most certainly cannot recall a time where a plan was devised to simply watch the sun go down. But why? Watching sunrises and sunsets should take precedence over early morning conference calls and late evening emails! I hope my future holds more scheduled time to watch the sun come up and go down (fingers crossed).

Watching the sunrise at La Pause
Morning Hike at La Pause
My last morning at the desert camp - I woke up, hiked the tallest hill and stayed for a while

Not Done Yet! 
La Pause is a paradise for someone who wants to "rough it' but couldn't possibly survive for 10 seconds without someone accommodating to her every whim…. in other words, someone just like me - a "modern nomad". I can easily say that La Pause exceeded any and all expectations I could've set and I'm certain I will dream about this place each time I close my eyes for a very long time.

Don't think this is the last you'll be reading about La Pause, there's so much more! I have the most amazing photos, it would be a waste if I didn't post them here! Plus, there are a few other activities that I did not mention yet.. so stay tuned! 

Read My Other Travel Posts Here! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Summer Is Over... For YOU Maybe

Bookmark and Share


Summer is not yet over for me because I'm on vacation in Morocco and it's 100 degrees and sunny! 

Infrequent blog posts over the past three months can only mean one thing --> it's time for me to head out of the country. Stick around and I'll share my travels around Morocco with you... and hopefully a lot more in the near future.

Marrakech - Olives - Souk
Olives for Sale in Marrakech 

Travel light - not lightly! 
I arrived in Marrakech on Saturday afternoon, checked into our riad (Dar Karma) and headed out for a guided tour of the old city. We visited the souk (souks?), Bahai Palace, had dinner in Djamma El Fna and then headed back to our riad where we lounged by the pool and drank wine. It was great. 

I have an awesome video of them setting up all the food stalls in the square but my wifi is not strong enough for me to upload. I will have to write a follow-up post when I have a stronger signal. 

dinner in djamaa el fna
Chez Mohamed No. 15
I love the name of this joint

Old City Marrakech
2 Million People in Marrakech
Seems like they're all here at once - every single night

Motorcycle close up Morocco
Scooters Are The Transportation of Choice
Inside the medina cars are not an option

On the following day, we headed to La Pause, a gorgeous resort in the stone desert (not dessert, which is how I've spelled it for the past week!), where we did not have electricity, wifi, or phone signal for almost three whole days. Imagine the horror! It was anything but a horror, it was like heaven and I was sad to leave. 

Stay tuned for more on the desert and my trip to Morocco... after making other peoples' travel dreams come true for nearly four years, I'm going to better show you how I make mine come true. Nobody does it better and I'm not going to be shy about saying so (anymore). 

Read More Travel Posts HERE
(and don't forget to leave a comment)