With my travel companions Samantha from California, Yoshiko from Japan, and Marie-Laure from France we landed together in Agadir and began our journey to the Argan forest along the rocky cliffside of the African coast. The farther we ventured from Agadir, the more mountainous and wild the landscape became until the goats were in the trees and acres and acres of Argan trees were all we could see.
We arrived to a co-op run by all women. It is here Kérastase has empowered these women to help them source and produce the highest quality Argan oil for the new Kérastase Aura Botanica haircare range. The process is anything but simple and is quite time consuming. First, women collect the fallen Argan nuts off the ground then leave them in piles to dry for months in the sun. The outer shell is then removed and hand sorted. The nuts move from each group of women to the next, generations mixed from young to old, and on joyous afternoons the women will chant traditional Moroccan songs while they work in harmony.
The next stage is the hardest, I would know because they made me try it! I ended up smashing my fingers more than cracking the hard shell of the Argan nut. With precision and centuries old technique, the women using a rock and a stone, smash the hard outer shell revealing a very delicate, white, almost almond-like nut in the core. Sorted again by hand, the best nuts make it to the pressing phase where the Argan oil that is so powerful for hair, skin and nails is extracted and filtered. This oil, from these photos below, are what make up the key natural ingredient of Kérastase’s Aura Botanica.
“The new Aura Botanica range is made for the woman who believes that responsibility is a must, performance a right and glowing, healthy hair is the essence of self-expression.” -Kérastase
As the golden light of the setting sun brought our last day in Marrakech to a close, we wandered the halls one last time at the Four Seasons, smelled the sweet garden air of roses and gathered for one last dinner with our fearless travel companions and inspirational group of women Nola, Caroline, Rebecca, Susie and Megan.
Throwing on our souk purchased packs, Kelly and I ventured out of the ancient walls of Marrakech onward to the Agafay desert at the base of the Atlas Mountains. It is quite a strange sensation feeling the heat of the desert sun on your skin while looking out onto snow capped mountains…
Day four in Marrakech, the adventure~
It was tan as far as the eye could see until we came over the hill and spotted our desert oasis “Le Pause” waiting for us.
We relaxed away the late morning sun under heavy woven tents and soft corner couches where the breeze off the earth swept through keeping us cool from the heat of the day.
The phrase “shop till you drop” was never more well said than after a day in Marrakech’s Le Souk. If I wasn’t such a woman distracted by shopping in every other stall I came across, I could have wondered the narrow corridors all day in amazement of the wares, colors, food, local culture and vast size… but alas, these are the few snapshots of this ultimate shopping excursion Kelly & I embarked on in day three of Marrakech~
Below: WATCH OUT FOR THE MOTORBIKES! We became very trained to step to the side when you hear the sound of a motorbike coming because OH! They will not stop!
From the new city to the old we danced through ancient courtyards, rubbed rose oil on our skin in the heat of the day and became inspired in the very gardens Yves Saint Laurent lived. As the hours ticked away, this city of now and then became even more intoxicating… and so we begin day two in Marrakech~
Below: Behind the walls of the old fortified city we ventured into the heart of the Médina where we visited the Saadian Tombs where the past Kings lay to rest.
“The Saadian Tombs lay hidden and mostly forgotten until 1917, when they were discovered during a French aerial survey and a passageway was built from the side of the Kasbah Mosque. The tombs’ long neglect has ensured their preservation and they have since been fully restored to their original glory.”
Of course when I was packing my bags for Morocco I couldn’t help but see smoky old jazz bars and men in white dress coats while Sam plays As Time Goes Bydancing in my mind’s eye… and I was not disappointed. The light of Morocco was as structural as a black and white film, cafes held old secrets and the long hot hours of the afternoon were cooled away with sweet mint tea and soft shaded nooks…. This starts the journey I was so thrilled to make with an amazing group of women and my dear friend Kelly Framel.
Welcome to day one in Marrakech~
After the journey from Casablanca to Marrakech we were welcomed at the Four Seasons Hotel with traditional mint & sugar tea and local pastries
Below: The floating rose bowls were one of my favorite hotel touches.