Auberge Ayouze Near Asfalou in the High Atlas, Morocco
There are several more appropriate places to begin a story of beauty than in the bathroom but this isn't just any bathroom! This rose-colored space has a view of the Atlas Mountains which you can see as you shower. The photograph looks more like a still life painting than it does a literal place to wash the body. For me, this image also calls up a sense of wonder and re-seeing of the simple life which is what Auberge Ayouze is all about. "Enjoy your life" is the phrase that Idriss, the innkeeper, repeats to me often. He suggests watching the sunrise over the mountains from my terrace. And so the next morning, wrapped in a blanket, I do.
Watching the sun is a slow, meditative process. At first I am checking my watch, hurry up sunrise! And finally I relax into the morning. The star studded night sky gives way ever so slowly to the light. I watch groups of women make their way down to the olive groves.
This is the region where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed and more recently, three episodes of Game of Thrones. Take away the satellite dishes and cell towers, the world here has not changed much in centuries. I know that's a simplification of the life I saw only peripherally --- the marketplaces, the kasbah, the public baths.
I listen to the women sing as they work together harvesting the olives in the olive groves. You can hear then shaking the tree branches. Across the road from the auberge, I walk down the path to the river. When we return, breakfast is served on the upper terrace. Fresh squeezed orange juice and strong espresso, local dates and warm crepes, a selection of jams and cheese.
Before we leave, we drive to Teleouet with Jasmine and Idriss. We see the palace of the pasha and outside of it, the Jewish village which is now a ghost town. The royal movie theater is now closed but Mohamed, our guide, tells us Charlie Chaplin visited here and played golf with the pasha.
While in Morocco we have practiced yoga daily, we have met spice merchants and woodworkers in the souks of Marrakesh and strolled the Marjorelle gardens but nothing compares to our time in the High Atlas at Auberge Ayouze where Berber lives and American lives so easily intertwined. You will find the Auberge in a bend in the road halfway between Assfalou and Ait Benhaddou. Climb the stairs to the terrace and there a new way of life awaits you.