Video: Highlining Across Morocco’s Todra Gorge




Far inland from the heavily toured bazaars of Marrakech and Essaouira lies a part of Morocco that many travelers know little about. The Todra Gorge, located in the remote High Atlas Mountains, is a sort of mini Moroccan Grand Canyon with 1,000-foot rock walls that have been carved out over thousands of years by the Todra and Dades Rivers.

In the video trailer above, we see an assemblage of four adventurers called Somewhereelseland as they attempt to highline across the gorge. Highlining is the newest extreme sport, which requires thrill-seekers to cross an inch-wide nylon line suspended in the air. Think of it as slacklining at altitude or like tightrope walking in which the rope is merely a string and the walker carries no balance pole.

“No one has ever highlined in Morocco before,” says Faith Dickey, Somewhereelseland’s female highliner. Indeed, the location and the precarious nature of the sport leave us with a desire to watch beyond the three minutes featured in this video.

How To Have Good Luck Around The World

Do you carry a lucky penny or have a rabbit’s foot attached to your key chain? For some new ideas on how to keep your luck running high, here are good luck rituals from around the world.

Bury A Llama Fetus In Bolivia

Walking around the Witches’ Market in La Paz, Bolivia, you’ll see myriad mummified llama fetuses. These aren’t just for decoration, but are actually a good luck charm from ancient Andean culture. Before a new house is built, a llama fetus is buried under the foundation to help give the owners good luck.

Paint Your Door Red In China

In China, it is thought that painting your door red is not only welcoming, but will also bring good fortune and happiness. In Feng Shui, it is believed the door is the mouth of the house, and a bright red color can draw positive energy to the home. There are many other rituals for good luck in China, such as keeping a paqua, or small octagon mirror, above the bed or by the front door to keep bad energy away from your home and out of your dreams. Moreover, having a water source on the property is thought to bring wealth and happiness.

Throw Your Old Appliances Out The Window In Italy

Traditionally, throwing your old appliances, clothing and housewares out of the window on New Year’s Eve in Italy is thought to bring good luck for the future. According to Walks of Italy, the thought is that you are letting go of the past and ridding yourself of any negatives you may have experienced. While the custom isn’t practiced by everyone anymore due to safety reasons, there are those who are still keeping the tradition alive for the country.

Some other good luck practices in Italy include tossing coins on the floor or under your bed, exchanging sweets on New Year’s Eve and lighting a Christmas log on the last day of the year to ward off evil spirits. Additionally, at weddings the groom will often carry a piece of iron in his pocket during the ceremony to keep evil spirits away, while the bride may rip her veil a bit to bring the couple good luck.

Toss A Baby From A Temple In Southern India

Yes, you read that right. In southern India, it is an age-old tradition to toss a baby off a 30-foot temple balcony, to be caught on the ground by a giant blanket. The ritual is said to bring the newborn good luck. According to Ian Garland of the Daily Mail, the practice was banned by the Indian government in 2009 but returned in 2012 to the Nagrala Village, as many locals believe it is their religious duty to carry out the ceremony.

A less shocking ritual in India is people exchange sweets for good and prosperity when they visit a home during a festival.

Have A Young Boy Roll In Your Bed Before Your Wedding In Singapore

In Singapore, there are many good luck traditions that revolve around weddings. First there is an chuang, or the setting of the bed. Before the wedding, a prosperous man will come to help determine where to place the marrying couple’s bed. A young male relative will then come and roll on the bed, to bless the couple with fertility. Foods like green beans, red beans, oranges, dates and other fruits are then scattered around the bed for good luck.

There is also shang tou, or hair combing, that takes place on the eve of the wedding. The hair of the marrying couple must be combed four times, usually by a female relative. The first round of combing represents the continuity of marriage, while the second stands for a harmonious union into old age. The subsequent stoke is a blessing of fertility, and the final combing is a wish for prosperity in a long-lasting marriage.

Wear Yellow Panties On New Year’s Eve In Colombia

While it may sound funny, Colombians like to ensure good luck for the entire year by taking some precautions on New Year’s Eve. They first ensure good fortune by wear yellow underpants. And to help bring even more luck, they consume 12 grapes at midnight on the special day. Additionally, Colombians don’t “pass the salt” to other people, as they believe this brings misfortune.

Burn A Chameleon If You’re Unmarried In Morocco

For unmarried women in Morocco, it is often believed that burning a chameleon in a glass will erase their bad luck, and increase their chances of getting married. Likewise, before a wedding ceremony the groom will often send his bride-to-be gifts, such as boxes of milk and Henna plants, to bring good luck for a happy and successful marriage. Also in regards to weddings, the woman getting married, who is traditionally expected to visit a hammam to be purified, will be soaked with water seven times by her close girlfriends, in order to bring good luck to her new life.

It’s not just brides and grooms who participate in good luck rituals. If you have a turtle in your garden or your home, and you keep it, you will also be brought good fortune.

Carry A 5-Yen Coin In Your Wallet In Japan

While 5 yen ($0.06) may not sound like a lot of money, this coin, pronounced “go-en” in Japanese, is close to the pronunciation for the words for destiny, karma or good luck. It is also the only coin with a hole in the center, making it easy to turn into a charm. In Japan, many people carry it in their wallet or purse, or wear it on a ribbon or chain for good luck.

Another way to procure good luck in Japan is through Daruma dolls. The papier-mâché figures are egg-shaped, and bare the likeness of Bodhidharma, the monk credited for founding Zen Buddhism. The dolls are sold with blank white eyes, and locals will add the first pupil when a goal is set and the second when a goal is achieved. Moreover, the dolls are considered a symbol of good luck by the Japanese.

Get A Tattoo In Tahiti

The word “tattoo” actually comes from the Tahitian word tatu, so it’s no wonder that this form of body art is so important to the culture. In fact, getting a tattoo is a ritual to bring luck and protection, as the tattoo represents your history, family background and often includes symbols that represent good fortune.

Another good luck ritual in Tahiti occurs during a wedding ceremony. This is when the priest will offer a blessing with a sacred auti flower and coconut milk. While doing this, the priest joins the bride and groom’s hands together and reads from a certificate of tapa cloth, usually made from a hibiscus tree.

Hold Lead And Boiling Water Over Your Head In Turkey

In Turkey, one way many people rid themselves of bad omens is through the ritual of lead pouring. To begin, the lead-pourer melts a tablespoon-sized piece of lead in a pan, while the person who is looking for good fortune sits with a cloth on their head for protection from the hot metal. From there, a small pan of boiling water is held over the person’s head, while the liquid lead is added. Most times, a prayer is chanted during the ritual. When the lead hits the water, it immediately turns solid, absorbing the person’s bad omens.

Another good luck tradition is to visit a special church that is open for just one day a year: April 23. Aya Yorgi, a Greek Orthodox church, receives hundreds of people on that day annually. These visitors tie multi-colored threads to trees at the bottom of the hill leading up to the church, in an attempt to bring good fortune.

Wear Baboon Skin On Your Head In Tanzania

According to Fair Travel Tanzania, who kindly interviewed the Hadzabe tribe in Tanzania, Africa, there is a ritual performed to help hunters who do not have luck catching animals. First, the elders advise them to wear baboon skin on their head and body, while putting beads on their shoulders. This is done at night, either under a baobab tree – the most sacred tree for Wahadzabe – or in the camp where they live. The whole community participates by singing and dancing and smearing the unlucky with herbal medicine to clear their misfortunes. Then, elders take the bows and arrows of the participants to bless them: “Haine (or God bless) these bows and arrows and make them shoot better,” is repeated over and over again. The unlucky also get to chew herbal medicinal plants, and should be good and ready for hunting the next morning.

Play Traditional Instruments For Friends And Family In Aruba

In Aruba, they try to ensure good luck for the new year through a ritual known as Dande. The tradition has been going since around 1880, right after the slaves were liberated. Groups made up of five or six people visit the homes of their families and friends, wishing these loved ones good luck and happiness for the upcoming year through music. Traditional Aruban instruments, like the tambu, wiri and raspa are played, along with the cuarta, guitar violin or the accordion to produce the upbeat rhythms of Dande. Lyrics for the songs usually incorporate well wishes for each person present. After the music is over, the head of the household will offer the performers a drink. What’s really interesting is the tradition is very local to the culture, as no other islands in the Caribbean participate in Dande.

[flickr photos via Michah & Erin, somegeekintn, Joelk75, Tambako the Jaguar, NH53]

Holistic Healing Practices From Around The World

Nowadays, it seems like there’s a pill or shot to cure every illness. But do we really know how safe these unnatural remedies are? Throughout my travels and by talking with locals from other cultures, I’ve learned there are many natural treatments that are also effective in promoting good health. For those who’ve ever wondered about the holistic secrets of other cultures, here are some answers.

Turkey

In Turkey, the trick to staying healthy is mesir paste. The concoction was invented in Manisa during the Ottoman Empire, when the wife of Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim and mother of Suleyman the Magnificent became very ill. No doctor was able to find a cure, until one created a unique spice blend that seemed to bring the woman back to life. The mixture is a blend of 41 different spices that form a thick paste, and is used as a general cure-all and tonic. Some of the paste’s ingredients include black pepper, cinnamon, licorice root (shown above), coconut and orange peel. The country is so proud of their natural remedy, they celebrate a Mesir Festival in Manisa each year.Ukraine

One effective yet simple remedy that can be learned from Ukraine locals is eating a lemon slice – peel and all. Apparently, the zesty flavor of the peel and citrus of the fruit can help aid digestion, reduce bloat and help breathing maladies.

Singapore

According to Cecilia Soh, a Traditional Chinese Medicine Specialist at Singapore’s Eu Yang Sang, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees “food as medicine and medicine as food.” Since 74 percent of Singapore‘s population is Chinese, TCM is widely used. For example, many Asians will boil chrysanthemum flower tea to clear “excessive yang” from the body. This includes symptoms like sore throat, indigestion, constipation and excessive eye mucus. Peppermint is another herb used as tea that alleviates these symptoms as well as headaches and upper respiratory infections.

Another common remedy is Perilla leaf (shown right), which helps alleviate seafood-poisoning symptoms. It is often cooked with seafood in order to stop the problem from happening in the first place. For cough, healthy digestion and smooth peristaltic movements, Apricot seeds are used.

The most sought after of all holistic medicines, however, is ground up pearl. During ancient times, royal families and wealthy merchants were the only ones who could afford this ancient health and beauty secret. The power can either be ingested or applied to the face for clear skin and anti-inflammation, although a doctor should be consulted before consuming.

Australia

The indigenous ingredient used by many Aussie’s to promote health and beauty is not only natural, it’s delicious. Ligurian honey, found in South Australia‘s Kangaroo Island, is very rare and powerful. In fact, it is where you can find the only strand of pure Ligurian bees left in the world. When I visited Kangaroo Island, I actually visited the Ligurian honey farm where they sold an array of honey foods, products and treatments. For beauty, the honey contains Vitamin E to help lighten blemishes and promote clear skin. Moreover, in terms of health, pure honey – like the Ligurian variety – is naturally anti-bacterial, and can be used to treat everything from minor wounds and inflammations to ulcers and arthritis.

There are also many natural remedies discovered by the Aboriginals in Australia. Tea tree oil, which is still common today in many parts of the world, is created by crushing up tea tree leaves and either applying the paste to wounds, or drinking as tea for internal ailments. The concoction works wonders and is thought to be more effective than over-the-counter prescriptions. Moreover, washing cuts and wounds with Emu bush leaves has been found to be just as effective as antibiotics, and more natural.

Aruba

In Aruba, there are two very natural remedies used to cure asthma. The first makes use of the aloe plant. Cut a piece, remove the skin, and slurp up the gel. While it may not smell or taste wonderful, it will help your respiratory system and promote good digestion. The other treatment involves boiling gecko lizards, and drinking the hot broth. According to the locals I’ve spoken to, this holistic trick cures asthma permanently.

Bolivia

Because a common problem experienced in Bolivia is altitude sickness, locals use their cash crop of coca leaves to help cure the ailment. You can either chew the leaves, or boil them for tea. Coca leaves are high in calcium and other nutrients, and can also be used to treat illnesses like malaria, asthma, headaches, wounds and even a low sex drive.

Belize

According to Joshua Berman, author of Moon Belize, the people of Belize still use many traditional herbs and plants to treat various illnesses, especially the Maya. Travelers can find “medicinal herb trails” throughout the country, and Maya healers are found in the Maya Centre and in some southern villages in the Toledo District.

Herbal medicine, often referred to as bush medicine, is a big part of Belize’s cultural heritage. Plants are used to treat everything from everyday headaches and coughs to more serious ailments like diabetes and infertility. One popular cure for digestive problems and upset stomach is taking allspice tree leaves and making them into a tea. Moreover, the native scoggineal plant is helpful for relieving headaches and fevers by tying it to the forehead. For the common cold or flu, contribo vine can either be made into a tea or soaked in rum. And, if you’ve got itchy or burning skin ailments, like sunburn or bug bites, relaxing in a bath prepared with gumbolimbo bark (shown right) is very helpful.

Colombia

In Colombia, natural remedies are very popular. For instance, using Rosemary by itself will help clear your lungs, while mixing the herb with ginger, half a lemon and honey is a cure for the common cold. If you want improved blood circulation, combine garlic and honey, and if you have swollen eyes you can put manzanilla (camomile) on your eyelids.

To help alleviate a strong cough, there are two remedies you can borrow from Colombian culture. One treatment is to ingest drops of eucalyptus. The other is placing half a potato near your pillow when you’re sleeping, which will not only help your chest, but will also put you to sleep. Furthermore, for times when digestive problems arise, Colombians will often boil an aloe vera plant (shown right), drink the water, and eat the plant with sugar or honey. Apparently, this cure is very fast acting, although not the greatest tasting.

Mexico

In Mexico, holistic healing practices are very common, as there is a lot of indigenous heritage there. Before actual medicine arrived, people used many fruits, vegetables and herbs to cure ailments. One very common natural remedy is eating seedless prickle – the fruit that comes from cacti – for diarrhea. For constipation, papaya and prunes are helpful. If you’ve got a case of conjunctivitis, many locals will make a “chicalote” infusion. This refers to a type of flower with thorny leaves, so you must be careful when picking it. Simply saturate cotton balls with the mixture and dab the eyes. In a few days, the problem will be gone.

Brazil

In Brazil, there are many natural remedies used to treat ailments. First there is açai almond (the actual fruit), which provides a dark green oil commonly used as an anti-diarrheal. Found in Pará in northern Brazil, it is thought to have strong energetic properties. The juice has an exotic flavor and is high in iron – excellent for people with anemia. Guaraná powder is another ingredient that is widely used to help intestinal problems, stop bleeding, relieve headaches and improve brain function. To use it, mash up a guaraná until it turns into a thin, reddish powder. The substance is extremely high in caffeine – four times more than regular coffee. There is also sucupira seed, which contains alkaloids used to help fevers, arthritis and acne. In fact, some pharmacological studies have found the oil from the seeds to be effective against schistosomiasis.

Morocco

In Morocco, where Berber Pharmacies, or herbalists, are popular, many locals seek medical help the holistic way. For example, pavor seeds are used to help soothe nasal congestion. Simply put them in a piece of cloth and knot it to form a ball. Then, place the sack under the clogged nostril while covering the other, and sniff. When having a toothache, Moroccans will put a clove on the tooth that is experiencing pain. These are the dried flower buds of the Myrtaceae family tree (shown right).

If dealing with insomnia, one popular holistic remedy is infusing red poppy flower into a tea. And, for fever or itchy eyes, locals will saturate a clean, white cloth with rose water and place it over their eyes or forehead, depending on which ailment they have.

India

In India, it is popular to use turmeric for acne. Grind it into a paste and apply it directly to the skin. You can also do this with sandalwood for the same effect. For an upset stomach, shaved ginger is often put on salads and other foods and ingested. Moreover, congee, or boiled rice with water, is eaten like porridge to promote general wellness.

Are there any natural remedies you’ve learned about along your travels?

[photos via avlxyz, dearbarbie, titanium22, Siona Karen, kthypryn, cyanocorax, Adrian Nier, Pixeltoo, borderlys, Koehler Images]

A Sensory Journey Through Morocco, Africa

Morocco is a country in northern Africa that features unique sights and experiences for all travel styles. When I visited, I was amazed at how much there was to explore – the lively sounds of the markets, the tastes of flavorful spices, the feel of gentle hands during a neck massage and the spiritually felt at a sacred mosque.

More than just your average tourism trip, Morocco takes you on a journey of the mind, body and senses. Your eyes will be opened to a new culture and you will get the chance to visit beautiful and enlightening places that will transform your outlook on life.

Smell

Designed in the 1920s by French furniture maker Jacques Majorelle and restored by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge in the 1980s, the Majorelle Garden (pictured) is a 12-acre botanical garden in Marrakech. The site is brimming with unusual tropical flowers, cacti and shocking displays of Yves Klein blue. Stroll through this exotic and vibrant garden, take in the unique aromas and visit Yves Saint Laurent’s resting place.Taste

Originated from the Berber people, the native inhabitants of Morocco, tagine is Morocco’s unofficial national dish. Cooked in a conical clay pot of the same name, tagine is comparable to a slow-cooked stew with different tender meats, vegetables and sauces.

A typical Moroccan tagine is made of chicken, preserved lemons, onions and potatoes. Learn to make them in a cooking class like the one at La Maison Bleue in Fez.

Touch

Relax in a traditional Moroccan hammam, which begins with a steam bath and is followed by an exfoliating body scrub and polish with black soap made from argan nuts. The experience ends with a relaxing argan oil massage. Visiting a hammam is part of the daily life in Morocco and is used to de-stress, cleanse and relax the body. Visitors can find hammams in almost every town in Morocco and in many hotels and riads.

Experience

Visit an argan oil cooperative near the coastal city of Essaouira and experience how all-women cooperatives make argan oil from argan nuts using the same technique that has been passed down for centuries. Argan oil is used in a wide range of beauty products for skin and hair, and for cooking. This area of Morocco is the only place in the world where the argan tree grows.

Pray

Make a trip to the majestic Mosque Hassan II set on the Atlantic shore of Casablanca. The seventh largest mosque in the world, Mosque Hassan II is the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslims are permitted to enter. The mosque can hold up to 105,000 worshippers at once and guided tours are offered to non-Muslim visitors in several different languages throughout the day.

Wonder

Enjoy the mysticism and magic of Marrakech’s famed square, Djemaa el-Fna. Djemaa el-Fna comes alive in the evening with music, cobra charmers, acrobats and merchants selling dates, dried figs, almonds, walnuts and other foods. As dusk falls, the square becomes an open-air dining area packed with stalls lit by gas lanterns and the air is filled with wonderful smells of Moroccan spices and plumes of cooking smoke spiraling up into the night.

Browse

Stroll the narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets of the souk in Marrakech, the largest in Morocco. Visitors can buy traditional Moroccan clothing and crafts from artisanal vendors selling from stalls and small shops. The most popular items – many handcrafted on site in the souk – include Berber carpets, hammered-metal lanterns and traditional Moroccan pottery.

Stay

While in Morocco, rest your head in a guest room at a Riad – a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard and fountain. Hidden behind an unassuming door in the Medina (old city) of Marrakech, Dar Les Cigognes is an example of a traditional riad-turned guesthouse. It features 11 guest rooms off a sunny courtyard with orange trees and a gurgling fountain. Marrakech is brimming with hundreds of riads that provide peaceful hideaways from the bustling souk.


See

Witness traditional male craftsman producing one-of-a-kind leather goods from start to finish. These artisans employ techniques dating back to the medieval times in the world’s oldest leather tannery in the Imperial city of Fez. Tour the famous tanneries and dye pits, bursting with vibrant color, in Fez’s ancient Medina, which date back to the eleventh century.

Move

Morocco provides some of the most diverse options for outdoor adventures and sports – ski the Atlas Mountains in Oukaimeden, surf the Atlantic waves in Agadir or sand board the dunes of the Sahara Desert near Ouarzarzate. Due to Morocco’s unique location and terrain, travelers can visit a ski resort in the Atlas Mountains by morning and end their day soaking up the sun on the beaches of Agadir. Visitors to Morocco also have the option to golf, kite surf, horseback ride and more.

For a visual idea of this sensory and spiritual journey through Morocco, check out the gallery blow.

[image via Jessie on a Journey]

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New Experiential Moroccan Hotel Brings Chic Luxury To Traditional Berber Style

In Morocco, the indigenous people are Berbers, and their traditional architecture uses rammed Earth and wood. Aside from in big cities, the Berber-style is plentiful across the country. While this rooted design may be popular, however, the country has never seen it done in a modern and luxurious way – until now.

At the end of March, Max Lawrence opened a brand new experiential hotel, Chez Max. Located 45 minutes outside of Marrakech, this all-inclusive catered villa is offered exclusively through Lawrence’s company, Lawrence of Morocco. The property takes principles of Berber building techniques and infuses them with dramatic effects and trendy accents. For example, while Berber rooms are customarily long, low and narrow, Chez Max features squared or curved rooms with high ceilings, giving them more space and light.

“Normal Berber properties are built around the Islamic principle that strangers and prying eyes cannot look in, but the problem is that this means you can’t look out, either,” explains Lawrence. “But Chez Max is able to flaunt that rule, and offers views for kilometers, over the local hamlets towards the hills, from inside and from its terraces.”

While this is the designer’s third Moroccan property, the style of hotel is one-of-a-kind in the country. Along with the tradition and luxury infusion, the property works to help guests feel completely at home. For example, the housekeeper, Saida, makes sure the rooms are tidy and also prepares delicious home-cooked cuisine. Additionally, there is no bill to pay on departure, as the designers do not want to intrude on the peaceful and relaxed feeling of the villa.

“There’s absolutely nothing else like this in Morocco,” says Lawrence. “Other Berber impersonations aren’t nearly as stylish or dramatic, nor are they situated in a such a quiet spot in the country, but within easy reach of Marrakech.”