In the winter of 2015, I had just finished my first semester abroad. Between coursework, part-time jobs and newfound friends, there hadn’t been time to explore Europe, a world so close and yet so far out of reach. So when my sister and her then-boyfriend (now husband) invited me to join them on their winter travels, I was more than happy to tag along.
First traveling to Lisbon, from there we flew to Morocco. The tropical weather and stunning nature made Morocco the ideal place to celebrate the year past and welcome the year coming. Staying at The Lunar Surf House, we met an amazing array of like-minded travelers; people eager to explore every corner of the world, and leave no spare moment wasted. Owned and managed by Australian/Moroccan couple Irena and Adil, these two lovely people made every guest feel welcome. After showing us our beds and providing a tour of the hostel, they gave us helpful information regarding nearby restaurants, where to buy groceries, and scheduled activities that they organized for the guests. Of them all, we simply couldn’t resist a local tour of rocky cliffs and natural swimming pools.
Paradise Valley, surrounded by and within the Atlas Mountains, is an invigorating blend of hiking and swimming. A half-hour drive from the hostel, approximately a dozen of us met Adil after breakfast. The tour of Paradise Valley would take most of the day. Involving a forty-five minute hike, lunch at an outdoor restaurant nestled beside the rivers, and cliff-diving and swimming in the peaceful Paradise Valley, the three of us agreed that, at 30€ per person, the experience was a steal.
The sun cast a bright and heavy glow throughout the day. Enveloped by the shadows cast by the towering rock faces and a cool breeze whispering through the hollows, the sunlight was a warm welcome. Keeping our spirits high with jokes and a helping hand, Adil brought us all safely and happily to Paradise Valley. With no one else in sight, the cool, shimmering water and sun-drenched rock faces were all ours. Setting all our things aside, the group divided into sun-bathers and river swimmers. Opting to soak up some vitamin D, I shared in the mirth and excitement as other guests cheered and whooped. Climbing up to the top of a rocky cliff, arms reaching to the skies as their bodies fell into the cool waters.
After the swimmers dried out in the sun, we all headed back to the main road. Greeted by the van, the sun was still pressed against a vibrant blue canvas. Mountains and cacti flit past us as we were driven back to the hostel. Thanking the driver and Adil profusely for the amazing day, we all headed up to our rooms to freshen up before dinner. Setting into the horizon so the stars could shine, the sun lit the sky in blazing oranges and delicate pinks and purples. A perfect end to a perfect day.