We stayed in the remote mountain village of Ain Leuh, about 30 minutes from the town of Azrou, for a few days during our journey. We livedin a renovated farmhouse that had been remodeled to host cross cultural groups and activities and we were the first group to be housed there.
We arrived late at night and had to hike up a long dirt road carrying our backpacks, unable to see anything but the stars. It definitely felt like an adventure, arriving to a house out in the middle of the country, trekking up steep hills, over streams, carrying everything we owned, and trying to avoid tripping over the edge or getting too close to the lose dogs who were welcoming us to the area.
We dropped our stuff, got settled as much as possible, and went to bed. In the morning we woke up very surprised, but very happy, to beautiful views of the Atlas Mountains and Moroccan countryside. This house was our home for the next three days, and it felt as though it truly were our home.
A lot of that feeling came from the fact that Lotfi and the others continuously told us that it had been created just for us and to make ourselves at home. Some of it came from the fact that we were not staying in someone else’s home and needing to feel as though we were guests. Some came from the fact that we were separated from the city, helping us to feel less like outsiders because we were not constantly being looked at our commented about. Most of all, and most importantly, that feeling came from looking out off the deck and seeing the Atlas Mountains in the distance.
Something important to note is that the Atlas Mountains are the same mountains that make up the Appalachian mountain chains. So when I looked out my back yard in the middle of the country in Morocco, roughly 4,000 miles away from my yard in Virginia, I see the same mountains I see at home, which provided an amazing sense of belonging and peace.
The three days we were at the farmhouse flew by, the time taken up with hikes through the countryside, picking cherries from the trees straight off the deck, cooking our own meals in tajines, visiting women’s cooperatives and shops in Azrou, picnicking in the national forest with monkeys, and star-gazing at night. It was an amazing experience and even being gone for a week, we still find ourselves missing the farmhouse, the quiet and peace of Ain Leuh, and our mountains.