Novella Royale FW featuring Alex Noiret
NOVELLA ROYALE FW MOROCCO
IT’S OUT! This past summer I was able to go on an incredible trip to Morocco with my friends Easton Schirra and Spencer Byam-Taylor. The trip was sponsored by Novella Royale, and I am so grateful for every moment that we were able to have, between the many chicken tagines and riding dromedaries through the Sahara desert (amongst many other moments which I will write about below, along with the pictures!). Hope you enjoy!
The start of the trip began in Marrakech. I remember stepping off of the plane and feeling the warm, dry air blowing onto my skin, almost as if I had been dropped into a soft hair dryer. It wasn’t my first trip to Africa and I immediately thought, with a gentle excitement, “we meet again”. My phone lost connection and the search began to hopefully find Easton and Spencer, whom I would meet up with. There’s a certain wildness about traveling through Africa – a certain feeling of human rawness that I adore.
In Marrakech we had our first plates of chicken couscous! The most delicious couscous I’ve ever had. In fact, we ate so much couscous and tagines that we eventually smelled like it constantly, which wasn’t such a great thing. But every time I swore I’d pick something different, I never did, because it was just that good. In Marrakech we went to a night market, which was engulfed in foggy smoke and crowded with dancers, snake charmers, jugglers, men with monkeys, you name it. I remember thinking that the women were so beautiful, especially in those moments – their charcoal-rimmed eyes were like black diamonds in a sea of fog. In Marrakech I also bought baby slippers, for my future daughter. I remember contemplating whether or not purchasing something for the future was ridiculous, but then I remembered how much I’ve kicked myself for not buying my future daughter a beautiful wax dress that I’d found in a tiny market in Equatorial Guinea. And so, I went forward with the slippers. In Marrakech I also found a floor pouf (which, turns out, I definitely got ripped off of) which I then lugged on my back for the remainder of the trip. Smart? Maybe not. Worth it? Absolutely.
We eventually arrived in Dades Gorges, a gorge along the Dades river, between the Atlas Mountains. There are probably no pictures that could ever describe how massive and otherworldly these walls of rock were. It reminded me of a scene from Mad Max. (Two photos down and you’ll see a sign that says “Les Roches” – Morocco is a French-speaking country, which was useful because we were then able to communicate more easily with the people.)
Chefchaouen. My favorite city on this Moroccan trip. A happy spirit was alive in this town, and it felt less somber than Fez, for example. More people were smiling. Children were running around everywhere; they were curious and gentle. The walls were colorful and chalked with blue, and there was more nature surrounding us. It seemed that tourists were more smiled upon here. I felt more at ease. We decided to stay in Chefchaouen for a few days more because we loved it so much. We stayed in a little family house and played with the kids that lived below us, and on occasion, as a treat, we ate at a pizza place to mix up our palates a little. I loved the fact that people would hang their laundry to dry on the roof of their homes. It brings me back to my childhood. I loved the little kittens walking around everywhere. I loved the smiles that the people had, and how magical every turn of this city was. ALSO, Chefchaouen is a wonderful workout in itself, because the city is built entirely upon a tall hill. If you wanted to walk down to the markets, you’d better be prepared to walk back up. On our very last day, while filming a scene for Novella, a little girl walked up to us and pointed us towards her little group of girlfriends. They were giving each other Henna tattoos, and wanted to give us some. I think they had a crush on Easton, because they kept giggling – and it’s true, he has the movie-star looks. It was endearing. Furthermore, the little girl drew one, simple flower on my hand. Almost as if to say, “this is you”.
The Sahara Desert. It boggles my mind and seems surreal that life has taken me there. It still feels like a dream. After a day of travel and arriving to Merzouga, we boarded onto our dromedaries and rode off into the big red desert. Respectfully named Bob Marley, Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, our dromedaries were sassy and tried to run away later that night, while we were telling stories and jokes with some of the Merzouga men. Dromedaries are fascinating creatures. They look like dinosaurs with extremely thin legs and alien-like squishy feet. Their feet aren’t hooved like camels, though ; they’re squishy so that they can grasp the sand that they walk on. It took us two hours of riding before we arrived at our base camp. There was a lot of wind on our way in, with sand whipping our skin (I then understood why we were told to wrap scarves around our faces and over our mouths). The fascinating thing about the Sahara Desert is that besides humans and the occasional beetle, snake or spider, there is no sign of life. None. It is vast, eerily quiet, and beautifully lonely. I remember looking at the stars, during the night time, and feeling so small compared to such a grand, majestic world. I felt like what I would imagine The Little Prince felt like, being alone on a strange, quiet planet. Later in the night, Spencer, Easton and I decided to sleep on top of the sand, on a hill. The sand was warm until we each slowly woke up freezing cold. I don’t know why, but I remember mumbling “dig a hole, dig a hole”. So our half-asleep selves dug holes and slept in them, until that wasn’t enough and we walked back down in the early morning. By then, it was time to ride back into town, another two hours! My legs and crotch (sorry, I wish that there were a more elegant word for it) were in such pain, I was holding myself up with my arms for at least half of the trip. What an incredible experience nonetheless.
I am so grateful for this life and to be able to take part in experiences like these. Big thank you to Novella Royale for sponsoring the trip, and Easton Schirra and Spencer Byam-Taylor. I love you both so much.