Thursday, March 17, 2016

upon a bed of pine needles

High above the black volcanic beach of Agaete, a vivid green pine forest spread along the jagged spines of the rocks. At times the summits were swallowed by a grey fog which slid into the valleys like a serpent, obscuring everything in its path. The pines, and their resident Blue Chaffinch were our goal, and we were determined to brave every hairpin turn up, and up, and up...

It had been a while since I felt the soft crunch of pine needles under my foot, and smelled their sharp yet comforting scent. Though we missed our bird, I felt a profound sense of peace while inspecting the forest floor.

Monday, March 14, 2016

back in time

So as I mentioned in the previous post, we're going to go back in time— to the end of November, to be precise. On the first day of a four day weekend, Pedro and I hopped on a prop plane and flew south-west to the volcanic island of Gran Canaria.

a sketch on the road

Somewhere along the road between Meknès and Rabat, we stopped to grab a quick bite. With the utmost discretion, I pulled out my watercolours and sketchbook to draw a man in a djellaba who was enjoying a lively conversation with his friends. I don't think he noticed.

I've been so bad at keeping current with my blog, you'll have to forgive me for sharing the sketch over a month late! In the next few posts, I'll be taking you back even further to November, when I took a quick little trip to one of the Canary Islands. Are you ready?

in the old city walls

The old city walls of both Meknès and Rabat are riddled with holes. These holes, which were created by the wooden scaffolding used during the construction of the walls, have eagerly been taken over by starlings, Jackdaws, and pigeons in both cities. Meknès however, has a special little bird that Rabat does not...

The Lesser Kestrel.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Towards the center of a fine zoological mosaic, I spied my favourite of favourites: the fierce Little Owl, Athene noctua.

where there are ruins

...there are birds.

little stones

The combination of black and white tiles remind me of the cobblestones of Lisbon...


The remains of the ancient city of Volubilis lie scattered within the agricultural patches of land outside Meknès. Founded in the 3rd century BCE, it was once a Mauritanian capital before becoming Roman. Volubilis boasts some of the finest mosaics I have seen in situ, with many depicting scenes from mythology, animals, and abstract patterns.


The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknès is the final resting place of one of Morocco's past rulers. The building which houses his and his family's tombs is beautifully decorated with tiles arranged in dizzying patterns, yellow pointed arches, and intricately carved plaster.

hot water

When hot water pours so easily from a tap, we tend to take it for granted. Having lived in places where hot water (and water itself) is not a guarantee, I'm delighted and grateful each time the shower provides me with warmth. Hot water is a beautiful luxury, especially if you happen to have a bathtub. Our last three homes have had standing showers, so whenever Pedro and I come across a tub while travelling, we feel like we've hit the jackpot!

As in Turkey, Morocco has a hamam tradition— one which I am curious to experience, as I hear it's quite different. While in Meknès, we were charmed into having a guide take us on a morning tour through the labyrinth of alleyways in the old medina. As I stopped to take a photo of a bright green doorway, our guide explained that this was the entrance to an old hamam. "Come," he said. "I will show you something."

We followed him to another doorway, a simple and unremarkable entrance to a dark space that smelled of burning. Inside, a man in a woolen cap sat in a pile of sawdust, diligently tossing the dust into a hole in a cement structure that breathed flames with each new offering.

This is the man who feeds the fire which warms the water for people to bathe in; his eyes narrowed to tiny arcs from years of caring for the flames. He never looked at us, never paused, never said a word. When I asked if I could photograph him, he gave a slight nod of acceptance while continuing with his work.