Posts Tagged ‘nature’

We left Essaouira and headed to Taroudant, traveling through Berber country. It felt almost as if we were in the midst of a biblical landscape.


On our way we stopped to stretch our limbs, and watched cute goats go wild after Argan trees.  A word of advice, though: some greedy locals have begun to exploit the poor goats to make money by tying the goats to the trees just to attract tourists looking for a good shot, and charge a fee. If you love and respect animals, and care for the environment, don’t cooperate with this conduct. By all means, stop on the way, where you can rest, and watch the goats in their natural habitat, free and happy.

Goats onroute to Taroudant
Goats can be seen climbing Argan trees and nibbling its leaves
Ahalan goaty

Argan Oil

Around Morocco you will notice many vendors trying to sell Argan oil or products containing the oil. The Moroccans boast the many benefits of the oil: great for hair (shine) and skin (moisturizer), health (lower blood pressure, cholesterol, prevent oxidation), and culinary (seasoning and flavoring).

I am sure you will also notice the men at the front of the stores, while the women who work on producing the argan oil, are quietly seated at the back of the store, or nearby, but are not involved in the selling process. Recently, more and more vendors will advertise  “women co-operatives” as their argan source. Unfortunately these are not always genuine. Please try to investigate, before buying, that the shop is indeed using an accredited all-women cooperative (which is usually supervised by the UCFA- Union of Argan Oil Women Cooperatives), that benefits women, especially Berber or Amazigh women at remote places, and part of the Moroccan heritage.

We visited the remote village of Tighanimine to purchase some Argan products directly from Coopérative Tighanimine, that runs solely by women, for women.

Argan products

Besides, when traveling to far off places, you encounter unexpected, fun things.

Well, tajines are pretty much expected, but still nice to taste different variations
Touching base with the ocean
Camel caravan. Never seen so many camels altogether in my life.
Passing Agadir in a flash

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Our back yard buzzes with life. We are fortunate to live so very close to nature, that we hardly need any pictures on our walls. Our windows bring into our home greens and pinks, and during the Fall, it brings those magnificent hues of red and oranges.

We learned to stop. listen. look. cherish the moment.

A few days ago, the very early morning hour summoned a turkey vulture to our yard. It sat on the old basketball post. It sat, and sat. All of the sudden, it drooped it’s scat, and flew away. “Slam, dunk”, shouted my little one. He understands.

nature in our back yard

Little birdie, little birdie, Come and sing me your song/ sung by Pete Seeger

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The last week of August, about one second before school starts again, and one second after most of the tourists have left, we decided to turn northward onto Nova Scotia, kids and all.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

We took a flight to Halifax. I did not expect too much before visiting NS, as I had a chat with only one nice lady who’s been there more than 20 years ago, that told me some things. And I have done some reading. Yet, it was only after arriving and tasting the actual dish, did I savor the special aroma and superb sensations of Nova Scotia. Now I am glad to pass on my own experience and give you Nova Scotia on my silver platter.

If I need to describe it in one word, then NS is probably Heaven. If graphics are needed,  then words like curvy, winding, and twisting come to mind, colored with the blue of the Atlantic ocean, deep greens for trees, dots of white for sail boats and seagulls, and burnt red for the mighty cliffs and their soil color.

It’s all about breathing the freshest air, giving your eyes the chance to see the horizon, and endless sights of grand nature and picturesque fishermen villages.

But first things first. We started and ended our visit at Halifax, one of the few urban landscaped you’ll find in NS. There is something so relaxing about this city. I guess it’s because we come from the New York metro.

Halifax, though a busy city, felt more like a town, a cozy place. It has its share of museums, (*) good restaurants, and charming little spots. It has the breeze of the ocean.

(*) We are always on the look for authentic, independent dining places (yes, even with kids), and managed to avoid fast food places for the past few years. In Halifax we found plenty: Turkish, Japanese, lots n’lots of seafood, fresh salads (and not just a tomato cut in half that calls itself a garden salad). Do not miss the Saturday farmers market, that contains not only the freshest foods and pastries, but also artists and crafters.

Halifax Farmers Market

Halifax Farmers Market

I must confess: we arrived just as Hurricane Bill made its way into the island, and left NS while tropical storm Danni was rushing through. At first I felt a bit on the down side, tucked with my 3 kids, 1 husband and 2 in-laws in the hotel, waiting for the rain and wind to go away. That took a bit more than a day and a change of plans. But once we got past those couple of days, the glory and magnificent views, as well as a few surprises came our way and bounced the spirits upward. We have met many beautiful places, but here are just a few of the highlights that made our mouth muscles form into the shape of a smile:

Cape Breton,  by far, the most beautiful place in Nova Scotia, and  one of my favorites in the world.

Cheticamp, Cape Breton. A little village, right at the beginning of the Cabot trail, at the entrance of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Like most villages here, it has its own little harbor, fishing boats, one main road with bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, craft shops, and the smell of salty water.

Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

Cheticamp at night, Nova Scotia

Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton. A tiny village, where we took a boat to watch whales and seals, and even the bold eagles.

Whales @ Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton

Whales @ Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton

Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton. A Buddhist Monastery, where you take a deep breath, fill your lungs with the freshest air. You can stroll around the grounds of the monastery and you’re in high nirvana just by looking at the breathtaking views. Situated at a secluded area, not far from Pleasant Bay, on top of a cliff, watching the great big blue ocean, surrounded by forests, wild flower fields and sea breezes, it’s the very place to meditate. There’s also a golden stupa, organic gardens, and of course, pleasant monks.

Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton

Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton

Green Cove, Cape Breton. Huge pink rocks to jump on, lie down on, walk on, sit on, or just gaze at. Enchanting.

English Cove, Cape Breton

Green Cove, Cape Breton

Baddeck, Cape Breton. A village, a harbor, a place where Alexander Graham Bell used to live (a very nice and interesting museum), Forks Falls, Crown Jewel Resort. Though we didn’t actually stayed at the Crown Jewel Resort, we had the privilege of meeting a unique family that runs the place after have decided to fulfill itself. They have settled in Cape Breton, raising farm animals and sled dogs, operating on green energy and cooking gourmet organic food. We were inspired.

Forks Falls, Baddeck, Cape Breton

Forks Falls, Baddeck, Cape Breton

Sherbooke Village. Historic village that depicts a typical village set to the mid 19th century. Reconstructed houses, shops, offices as well as people wearing the era’s costumes, walking around, working, and crafting. The kids had a blast.

Sherbrooke Village, living Museum

Sherbrooke Village, living Museum

Peggy’s Cove. The bigger sister of Green Cove (in Cape Breton). The place is pretty, though a bit touristic to my taste. Still, kids loved the huge rocks, one of the typical landscapes of Nova Scotia.

bag pipes at Peggy's Cove

bagpiper at Peggy's Cove

Lunenburg. A historic village with houses, churches and shops dating back to 1753, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, too, it is a bit touristic, but at the end of August it does not feel that crowded. Stroll around the old town, enjoy good seafood, interesting ships and museums.

Old town of Lunenburg, UNESCO world haritege site

Old town of Lunenburg, UNESCO world heritage site

I want to hope to return to this lovely place. For more photos, take a look at the NS photos page.

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