How beautiful it was our one week trip to the Sahara Desert, in Morocco, with Zen Family. Me and Vasco arrived some days ago and we’re still feeling as if we needed to land again. New friends, new emotions, new thoughts, new words, new life. A big sharing of everything. We were twenty-six people with a deep desire to learn more and more. I didn’t even know that the desert could have such a healing capacity. We both opened ourselves to a new experience and we brought many gifts from the Universe.
Eyes of Wisdom and Humility
We found the Moroccan people very interesting, for their simplicity and their friendly way of being, whether in Marrakesh or in the Desert. Their merchant abilities and their traditional clothes reminded me a little of the Indian and the Nepalese cultures, although they are different from each other.
There was something about those people that really caught my attention. They seemed to speak through their hearts, whether expressing words, music or artworks. We didn’t stay long enough to get intensely involved in their culture, but the people from the places we slept, the people who served our meals, a family we met, the children, the people from the markets, they transmitted, somehow, some kind of wise and humble serenity. I remember one man in particular, who told us, while promoting his carpets, that “life is a book and if we don’t travel, we can’t turn the pages”.
Raw Vegan in Morocco
As you know, we are eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, to fully live the experience of having a raw vegan diet, no matter for how long. We dived into this trip to Morocco knowing that, at any moment, we could go back to rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, and cooked vegetables. However, we knew that if that happened, it meant that we really needed. However, I believed everything would be perfect, anyway.
Along the days, we found many markets with fruit and vegetables, and also as part of the organized breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We spent the entire week eating fruits, raw salads, nuts, and only a few cooked vegetables. Yes, it’s possible, and very tasty, by the way. I kept on doing my daily kundalini yoga practice, sometimes before the sunrise. We did all the yoga and meditation activities, we climbed the challenging desert dune and we walked more than one hour on the desert sand.
It’s true that it’s not recommended to eat raw dishes in Morocco, due to the fact that the water can make us sick, as we are not used to it. In our case, we ate mostly fruits that we could peel, but we also trusted the salads, as the places where we ate were well known by the trip organizers.
We found bananas, apples, oranges, tangerines, grapes, dates and Indian figs. Actually, we learned how to peel properly these figs, as they have peaks that stick through our skin. We also found a few dates trees!
In our salads, we had lettuce, carrots, pumpkins, eggplants, zucchinis, avocados and, last but not least, olives, lots of them! From home, we took some nuts, seeds and dehydrated sweet potato chips, that we added as a nutritious complement.
I can only feel thankful for these fantastic simple meals that we were able to experience, in a completely different environment, without any concern about forcing ourselves to consume any heavy cooked fatty and spicy foods, that could unbalance us and disturb this great detoxification process.
What about Animals?
Everywhere we go, we can always find some sort of animal exploitation – animals on our plate, trapped animals, animals used for transport, sacrificed animals, animals used for entertainment, abandoned animals, and the list goes on and on.
Just like in other cultures, we have seen many meat, egg and dairy dishes in Morocco. They have the very well known “tagine”, which is usually prepared with meat, although they have vegetarian versions of it. Besides that, they may prepare an egg’s pizza, a milky soup, a cheesy pie, a simple omelet, and a roast chicken.
As good merchants, the Moroccans sell numerous products made of animal skin and hair. We are so used to these handmade products here and there, and, yet, for me, it always has its own impact. About two years ago, I still kept an old leather bag and some leather sandals, that I liked a lot, and now I still use some clothes made of wool. The thing is, do we or do not we want to keep our eyes shut to all the process that lies behind? Animals need their skin to live, so I guess we all get the picture.
The first animal we were in contact with was a donkey we found at the market, in Marrakesh. He was carrying merchandise and he was standing still. I remembered I had a few carrots in my bag, so I asked the man who was close to him if we could feed him. He smiled at us, said yes, got up and untied him. At that time, I became conscious of the way animals are attached to the carts, in order to transport them. He ate the carrots, moving his mouth in that funny way donkeys do. I felt good for realizing that the spontaneous intention to feed him actually released him, at least temporarily.
We then found a mother cat with her kitten, in the middle of a narrow street. Yes, we can treat animals well too. Actually, this contrast between freedom and imprisonment can be really amazing. We treat animals according to our judgment, depending on their size, color, hair, and abilities. Maybe it is mostly a culture issue, that we pass from generation to generation, without questioning whether it makes sense or not. Because we human beings are so attached to our cultural teachings and limitations, we forget to check on our main priorities. The result is the needless suffering of a lot of living forms.
While at the market, we saw a man preparing dead chickens for sale. We also heard the sounds of the animals at the back, so we didn’t go closer. At that point, we were looking for fruits. Imagining their high vibration and delicious juicy textures through our bodies made us quickly continue our way on.
In the Desert, we’ve seen many dromedaries. I cried once I became close to them. I have seen dromedaries and elephants in India before, and I actually rode them at the time, many years ago. This time, I guess I wasn’t expecting to see how these animals were trapped by their mouths and noses. I chose not to ride any of them, so, like a few other people, I walked. This really didn’t make me a better person. This only made me see how much this world can be violent and how much I am part of it. I saw myself in those dromedaries and also in those men. I felt how it’s like to suffer from being forced to do something we feel unnatural to us and I felt how it’s like to control others for our own benefits. Which part was me and which part was not? Can I really dissociate myself from this reality? Who am I but a part of this whole?
I spent the entire night in the desert’s camp, receiving flashes of consciousness as if the Universe wanted to make sure that I knew I was no different from all the others and that the only way forward was that one of unconditional love.
I felt I judged a part of myself that, for any reason, I found hard to forgive, whether assuming a “dromedary’s role” or a “man’s role”. Sometimes, when we start to make conscious choices, we want to erase our past, because we feel bad about how we treated ourselves and the others. However, we go nowhere, till we forgive ourselves. We know the past no longer exists, but we know that our subconscious finds a way to keep it very much alive until we frontally face it with a compassionate heart. We must accept our truth in fullness, to be at peace. As a result of this, we also become more able to understand the others’ words, behaviors, acts and reactions, and the only judgment we then make is that everything is perfect as it is.
I hope I find the ability to practice full appreciation and forgiveness for everything in my life, knowing that I do the best I know in each moment and that there’s no advantage in crucifying myself or others, for not having learned everything yet.
By the way, as we placed our sleeping bags in one of the dunes, to spend the night under the stars, we saw a dog’s silhouette standing in front of us. He was brown and sweet and he spent the entire night lying next to us. He reminded us of Bogas. The Universe speaks through different languages and signs.
Sharing is the Key
This trip was more than food, landscapes, and cultural habits. All the atmosphere counted and we spent the week with a group of people full of stories and teachings to share. We had many relaxing and profound sessions, in which we verbalized our feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, worries, wishes and gifts. We practiced hatha yoga and dynamic meditations, that really helped us to open to each other and focus on our self-knowledge. I feel that these precious moments were the key to unlock the possibility of growing up and expand our consciousness.
More and more, I believe that sharing is part of our purpose here on this planet. There is no way of totally embracing our gift and not sharing it with the world. Both actions are attached to each other and they are the unifying force that makes us realize we are all one.
I am truly grateful for this beautiful journey, with all the dark and light sides of it. Thank you, Universe!