What Am I Up To? April 2016 – Dades Valley

Monkey Fingers, Dades Valley, Morocco

Nestled up in the hills overlooking the Dades Valley in the south of Morocco lies the charming Chez Pierre Hotel – an establishment renowned for it’s class and five course Moroccan-European fusion dinner.

I’m here helping to serve this famous meal. Why? Because I needed somewhere to go and found the listing on Workaway.info – a website like WOOFing but with more job variety. Workaway compiles listings from around the world where site members can volunteer their skills in exchange for room and board. I used the same site to find my work at the English language school in Berrechid. (Major help for saving money during long-term travel!)

My role here consists of helping to serve dinner to the clients and doing a little bit of cleaning and setting tables. In exchange, I live with the family who owns the hotel and eat my meals either with them or at the hotel (meaning the leftovers from the clients). When I’m not at work, I use my free time to explore the area or spend time with the women at the house.

The area where I’m living is isolated and chock full of natural beauty. A river flows down the center of the valley and on each side are traditional houses up on the rocky hills. The area consists of a chain of small villages with little to no WiFi and no contact solution to be found. It’s wonderful for hiking along the cliffs, star-gazing, and walking through the gardens in the valley. Here, the people grow their food and are brilliant in farming the land.

It’s a quiet life. I spend a high percentage of my time walking back and forth between the hotel and the house. I also read a lot, write a lot, and walk a lot. There’s a fantastic hike called “monkey fingers” that I tackled on my own the other day. I got slightly lost and ended up having to boulder up loose volcanic rock to make it up from the valley back to the path at the top of the cliff. Risky business but I made it out in one piece. It was a lot of fun to be out in the world in my trusty hiking boots. I think they’re becoming my favorite item in my backpack.

Monkey Fingers, Dades Valley, Morocco
Hiking Views

Today, I ventured further up the valley by bus to a small village called Msemrir. Up along the route I saw sheep grazing with their shepherd, stretches of barren land, crops, and many small villages. Each one was labeled with a sign on the road that apparently is a very new addition to the infrastructure – new as in within the week. Before, if you were traveling through and needed to know where you were, you would have to stop to ask a local.

Morocco, Dades Valley
Bus to Msemrir

From Msemrir, the closest thing to a city is over an hour and a half away – if you can get a ride. This secluded and traditional way of life is difficult to imagine – working every day to manage the land without the option of running to the supermarket for anything you need. It takes a whole different set of skills that I lack to thrive in this environment.

As much as I can’t fathom this kind of rural life, I’m sure the villagers would have a hard time picturing themselves working in corporate America. In either direction, it’s tough to imagine something so unfamiliar. Probably they are happier with their simple life than business moguls with their money and fast-paced career. But, then again, I guess the grass is always greener. I wouldn’t know without trying things their way.

Sheep, Dades Valley Morocco

Anyway, It’s been very nice to relax in such a gorgeous setting. I’ve enjoyed myself and learned a lot (for another article) but now I’m anxious to get back to a more active area. I’ve been my own best friend here for the past week and a half which I guess has been the norm while traveling solo but I feel it much more intensely without being constantly surrounded by others. It’s been great to practice the skill of entertaining myself but I’m ready for some new interactions.

Wednesday morning I move on to Merzouga. I’ll meet my Beni Mellal/Ouzoud Falls Couchsurfing friends for some camping in the desert and after that, we’ll see! Plans have been coming to me very last minute lately. I’ll do my best to keep those who are interested posted here.

As always, thanks for reading!

Layla 😉

Here’s a new Berber word: Tahenna (All is good here/No problems)

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