A Journaling & Life Design Adventure in Morocco
March 28-April 9, 2012 / What we did and why
Sometimes its easier to see ourselves when we’re looking in a different mirror. In Morocco many of us were able to find reflected in the cities, mountains and deserts aspects of ourselves. For two weeks, we were open to seeing what intrigued us, disturbed us, and delighted us. We were open to seeing what emerged–often it was revealing in very positive ways, sometimes not so.
- We were in transition or between chapters in work, love, place or purpose, and used structured journaling to awaken and focus on our senses. This offered a consistent but varied structure for exploring and synthesizing observations. We also had opportunities to actively explore and discuss with our fellow travelers the vicissitudes of daily events.
WHERE: We met in Fez and stay several nights there. After exploring the winding walled city, we took a day trip to the royal city of Meknes, the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the shrine of the Muslim saint, Moulay Idriss. We then headed out into the Atlas Mountains and spent nights in the mountains and the desert before driving through lunar landscapes to Ait Ben Haddou (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and on to Marrakech, home of extraordinary architecture and conundrums, magicians, actors, fortune tellers, sinners, saints and musicians.
Each night we reflected on the day by contributing to a common journal while taking time for ourselves to write, watercolor, walk and reflect in groups and alone. Kendall offered journaling ideas each day that helped anchor people’s experience of Morocco and wove together past, present and future.
WHAT : More an adventure than a relaxing vacation, we stayed in restored ryads and ate at excellent restaurants more populated by locals than tourists. We were 9 in number, plus a guide and driver. Our route and accommodations were taken care of by 2 professional tour planners (one of them a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, Mark Gordon, who stayed on for 30 years and runs amazing adventure trips throughout the country, while the other, Moo Bishop, was a consulting travel specialist in Boston).
WHEN WAS IT?: March 28 – April 9, 2012 (12 days)
COST : $2790 / single supplement available at $350 / Deposits of $500 needed to secure a place / Please call with any questions (781.640.9957)
DETAILS: Resources, bibliography, materials list and itinerary included
TRIP LEADER is Kendall Dudley who has an MA in Middle East studies from Columbia, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran, studied Islamic architecture at Harvard and has been a work / life design consultant for 30 years. He teaches autobiography, travel journaling and life direction programs and designs participatory art projects focused on current world issues. Kendall was in Morocco in 2008, has lived in England, Sri Lanka, Macao and Japan and traveled to 31 other countries. For more on him, please go to www.kendalldudley.com and www.writeyourvividjourney.com.
Kendall Dudley’s Journaling and Life Design Adventure in Morocco: March 28 – April 9, 2012
The itinerary follows:
|Day of Week||Itinerary||Overnights||Activity||Meals|
|Day 1 or Day 2 depending on when you began your travelsMarch 29||Arrive in Fez||Hotel Batha3StarPool||We will meet you at the airport and take you to the Batha in the center of the Medina. The building used to be the British Consulate and Winston Churchill stayed here! If you’re lucky, you can smell his cigars on warm nights. With the old city surrounding you, you can step outside and be wrapped easily in the 18C.Settle in this evening and get used to the different sounds of a city with narrow streets, pedestrians, animals and scooters.||B|
|Day 2March 30||Fez||Hotel Batha||The ancient city of Fez dates back to the 9th century, while the New Fez dates to the 1500s. The city is best explored on foot, through the narrow streets. We’ll discover the ancient maze-like quarters of the Medina, the community water fountains and neighborhoods and their local markets all existing within the four Gates of Fez, each with their distinctive form and decorative work.Over the next two days, you’ll have a chance to wander on your own or together as we visit the Jewish Quarter and synagogue, the many layers of the medina, its souks and street life. If you wish, you can see the pottery and ceramic tile factory, the famed leather workers and other monuments and museums while sampling local tagines and breads from a range of places from the deliciously simple to the sophisticated.||B|
|Day 3March 31||1 hr to Meknes30 min to Moulay Idriss5 min to Volubilis||Hotel Batha||This morning we’ll head to Meknes to be in this once Imperial City. While there are many places to see, you may prefer to wander this pretty city while other look in at the great gates of Bab Mansour, the tiled tomb of Moulay Ismael, and the heroic Royal stables.Then on to Moulay Idriss, a town on a hill, one of Morocco’s holiest places, named after the man who founded the first Islamic dynasty. It helped his credibility too having a blood connection to Mohammed! Walking up into the town is thrilling in part because you can see our next stop, the rooms and columned remains of Volubilis, Morocco’s largest and westernmost Roman town.||B|
|Day 4April 1||Fez||Hotel Batha3 Star||Exploring Fez further. There is much to see but you may want to take time to read, reflect and write. Each night we will gather to create a group journal page with reflections on the day so that activity provides an anchor to the day, especially for those who have been moving to their own drummer and like reuniting in the evening.||B|
|Day 5April 2||Fez to Errachidia6 hours drive time||Hotel Errachidia4Star||Today we begin the bus journey into the Atlas Mountains to Errachidia and the lush palms of the Ziz Valley. Along the way, we will stop so that some of us can hike into the cedar forests common to the Middle Atlas and later take time to reflect at a crystal vortex outside of Midelt, known for its agriculture and minerals.||B|
|Day 6April 3||Errachida to Merzouga||Hotel TombuctouStar Oh My!||Today we continue on to Merzouga in the Sahara Desert, set at the foot of Erg Chebbi, the largest dunes in Morocco. Here we’ll spend time with the rocky and the rolling desert, and if you like, hike, ride camels and write in the dunes as the sun starts to sink below the sand. One traveler writes: The hotel is a real desert dream combining comfort, magic and romantic ambiance!||B|
|Day 7April 4||Merzouga to Todra Gorge3.5 hours drive||Hotel YasminaBasic accommodation; surrounded by Gorge||We travel along roads that weave through palm, olive, almond and pomegranate trees and exquisite pink villages to the high gold walls of the Todra Gorge that, only 1200 feet long plunges down to clear water. We settle into the Yasmina, right in the center of the gorge, and walk the breathtaking land, some of us climbing like goats up the steep cathedral walls.||B|
|Day 8April 5||Todra Gorge to Ait Ben Haddou3 hour drive||Kasbah3StarPool||Continue on to Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that looks crafted from visions achieved only through illegal substances. Soaring towers, primitive gardens, unique sculpted forms that stir deeply the imagination. Portions of Lawrence of Arabia were shot here and he’d never let us down!||B|
|Day 9April 6||Ait Ben Haddou to Marrakech4 hour drive||Riad Alida||Continue on to Marrakech, mythic red city of souks, mosques and monuments. This afternoon we can visit the Majorelle Gardens, with its brilliant blue coloring in contrast to the red of the city before wandering the Djemma-Al Fna and its enigmatic sea of snake charmers, acrobats, fortunetellers, fruit merchants, amulet makers, actors, musicians and fire eaters!||B|
|Day 10April 7||Marrakech||Riad Alida||After breakfast, whether as a group or in clusters, we can visit this vibrant city on foot, beginning with the medina, the red walled, city center. Then onto a medersa, one of Morocco’s traditional Islamic boarding schools no longer in use, and the souks, a labyrinth of twisting narrow alleys that lead us to spice, silver and carpet markets. We’ll finish the afternoon again at the Djemma el-Fna, for another taste of its constantly changing flow of human energy, spirit and imagination.Tonight, we’ll celebrate with an extravagant Moroccan feast that we cook, guided by a talented chef who teaches us the subtleties of traditional delicacies from olives, harissa, pigeon and chicken to couscous and vegetables. Tagines and couscous come within reach of our talents—spices seen as colorful empires in the souk become vivid partners in preparing our exotic tableau which, after making, will be possible to reproduce at home.||B, D|
|Day 11April 8||Return flight to the U.S.||We will then see you off to the airport if your plans are to leave Marrakech today. Others may choose to stay on their own and make side trips into the mountains or to the lovely seaport town of Essoueira or fabled Agadir. Consider staying a night or two at one of the superb traditional style hotels or stay another night at the Alida to gather your thoughts before returning home.||B|
B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
What follows is standard travel business boilerplate: We will attempt to adhere to the itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental and cultural) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participants.
Costs: We are negotiating the finer details of this trip, trying to keep the costs down while also providing you with very basic creature comforts (for most of the time!). My travel counselors stress the importance of trip insurance that covers cancellations for a variety of reasons as well as medical insurance in case a nasty hang nail requires getting you out of town in a hurry and back home. So… here is the emerging cost of the show:
$2790 pp with an additional 350 for a single supplement.
Trip leader: Kendall Dudley has an MA in Middle East studies from Columbia, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran, and thoroughly smitten with the Muslim life, studied Islamic architecture at Harvard and has been a work / life design consultant for 30 years. He teaches autobiography, travel journaling and life direction programs and designs participatory art projects focused on current world issues. Kendall was in Morocco in 2008, has lived in England, Sri Lanka, Macao and Japan and traveled to 31 other countries. For more on him, please go to www.kendalldudley.com and www.writeyourvividjourney.com
þ Trip cancellation and health insurance
þ Accommodations based on double and triple occupancy at comfortable and distinctive tourist level and better hotels
þ All breakfasts plus a few dinners as indicated above
þ Services of a bilingual guide who will be with us throughout our trip
þ Land transportation, airport transfers
þ All excursions as listed in the itinerary
þ Bottled water and snacks on the van
- Air transportation to Morocco
- Entrance fees to sites listed, approx. $1-3 per site
- Soda, beer, wine and spirits (Where we include dinner, you will need to pay the bar tab)
- Tips for guides and driver
- Fees for passport and immunizations
- Meals and expenses en route
- Laundry, phone and other items of a personal nature
- Costs related to add-ons like cooking classes (except for the last night which is included), turban wrapping, henna designs, music lessons, fortunetelling, fire-eating…!
- What to bring: (a partial list)
- A bound journal 6×9 or larger with blank pages (more on this later)
- A set of watercolor pencils and crayons (Caran d’Ache) plus a few watercolor brushes (#7 and #12—depending on your taste)
- A light cloth or big scarf for women that can be used to cover your head and arms when in conservative settings
- A digital camera with extra batteries to use as a journal / bring a video camera if you already have one—you may have one on your phone
- Good comfortable shoes—and preferably not new ones that have not been broken in already!
- Pictures of family, friends, home and work that you have on a phone or iPod to show local people (and us) to foster communication.
- A couple of small objects that may be symbolic of some of the questions you may be asking of yourself at this point in life.
For more information, please contact me at the following sites—I’d be delighted to talk:
If you are interested in reserving a place on the March trip, please call me, Kendall Dudley or contact Katherine “Moo” Bishop at 617/413.3536 and we will be glad to discuss details. If you would like to book a seat, please send a $500 non-refundable deposit to Moo Bishop 69 Bushnell Street Boston MA 02124. Thank you.