Unplugging a bloggers brain

 

Unplugging your mobile, or laptop is one thing. Unplugging a brain is another.

I have a long history of holidays with total computer, mobile, social media, smoke signal, radio silence. That gives you time to think. Let’s you focus on the things at hand. You see your surroundings more clearly, get the chance to hear, feel and experience the world more strongly. You are there, in every single moment. Experiencing them truly, with no intermediates.

A week with no phone calls, Facebook, twitter, whatnot, makes wonders. It challenges you to keep your mind entertained in other ways. I see that as cleansing, detox for the mind. Line of thought is somehow more thorough and goes deeper. Everything is not about communicating your experiences to you social circle. And the feeling of being cut off from the world for a while, that is freeing. No news of yet another disaster will reach you, you are not jumping to every buzz your phone makes, reading mails, messages or postings. You are able to calm down and breathe.

That part above, that is easy. What I have noticed now, after starting this blogging thing is, that your brain needs unplugging too. And that is more difficult of a task. Mind is constantly storing things, preparing them to be written. You are enjoying something, when all of a sudden you notice, that you are making it into a blog posting, silently in a corner of your brain. I try to avoid taking notes, just to be able to live in a moment, but the brain is following its own rules.

Unplugging my brain is still something I need to learn to do better. I guess, it is about finding the inner child. Going with the flow and only afterwards thinking about what it was you managed to do. Put it then into words and out here, for people to read, that way, I feel, the story is more pure, more, me.

Blogging, whether plugged or not, never forget your camera!

In response to Daily prompt Bloggers, unplugged

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Ardèche in November

We hardly had time to recover from our trip to Morocco, when we found ourselves from yet another flight. Destination this time was Nîmes, in the south of France. This time, it was not just the two of us. We had a couple of friends with us. Waffles colleagues, Vanessa and Guy. Waffles parents have a second home right at the gorge of Ardèche, at the side of a medieval village called Aiguèze, that would be our base camp.

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It was a very beautiful spot. Right next to the water tower, on a hill above the village. Nicely isolated in solitude with a splendid view. Freezing cold as well, since it happened to be the first week of winter over there, we got to enjoy temperatures of 0 – 6 degrees, also in the house.

Aiguèze is listed to be one of the most beautiful villages in the whole world, or at least in France, and it is nicely lit during the evening hours, so of course a short walk was required. We strolled towards the center of the village, on narrow streets, stared at the bell tower and sniffed the cooling evening air. The village indeed is very pretty.

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The next day we were expecting a bad weather, with heavy rain and wind, temperatures hardly climbing above zero. Everybody woke up with not so big expectations, only to find nicely brisk and sunny morning outside, topped off by a distant call of a hunting horn. A road trip day turned into a day with short hikes.

We started off, walking through Aiguèze and headed for the plateau, which is sliced by the canyon of the river Ardeche. Despite the chilly temperature, the sun heated us up quickly while walking up the hill. The soil over there pushes up wild herbs. So that you end up walking through the sent of thyme and mints, while acorns crackle under your feet. There you really can experience nature strongly with all your senses.

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First climb behind us, surrounded by the scent of thyme.

 

 

Those grounds are full of boar. You see their marks everywhere, the whole bed of the forest seems to be turned around in the vigorous hunt for truffles and other mushrooms. We happened to come around when it was season for hunting boar. It didn’t take long until we met the first hunters, who had already gotten lucky with the hunt. They warned us about maybe angry boar, but let us continue further in any case.

We ended the walk to vineyards, already prepared for winter. We looked closely enough, and found some grapes left behind. So sweet they were, could have stayed with the for quite some time. Talking about the ways of the world.

The rain clouds rolled in, so our gang hopped into a car, and headed for a scenic route alongside the canyon. An hour or two we drove the serpentine roads, hopping into the wind and rain every now and then to snap pictures.  Our destination was the biggest natural arch in Europe, being Pont d’arc.  Magnificent stone formation, no denying that. That was our relaxed start for the weekend. Sunday and the main hike through the Ardeche canyon was still to come.

 

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Pont d’Arc and us.

 

In the morning we found our noses stuck to a map and breakfast. We were looking for a good loop for us to walk. The one chosen would take us down a mild descent, right to the bottom of the canyon. After which we would be able to follow the river for a few kilometers until returning back up to the plateau.

Weather was treating us pretty good. The day was perfectly chilly for hiking and the sunlight lit the white walls of the canyon and gave the river a set of different colors too. We explored a cave too, found trails and slides of otters. It was a very pleasant day hike that one. The silence in the car on the return journey told the story of rather happy and tired hikers.

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The last day we still payed a visit to the Mediterranean, the blue sea on the other side and snow covered mountains watching after us while we crossed the salt flats of Camargue. What might be a surprise for many, is that in Camargue there is a healthy population of flamingos. We were still able to spot a few of them, resisting the cold of oncoming winter.

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I have a slight feeling Ardèche region might be calling us next year too. The area is lovely to hike, it is filled with hidden swimming paradises and has about the best weather of whole Europe. And if we happen to grow bored of Ardèche, there is always the national park of Cévennes right around the corner.
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Returning to Marrakesh – Morocco

The third morning was upon us, when we woke up into a quiet morning in Mergouza. We had a long drive ahead of us, straight through the desert, towards Agdz and Ouarzazat.

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Those roads are fast to drive. There are almost nobody there and they are in relatively good condition and cornerless. Before long, we were in the half way of the days journey. That was a lot of desert. We spotted something that we named immediately as “copy-paste-mountains”.

It also became apparent, that no truck or taxi over there moves without being fully loaded, up to the limit.

Every time there is a bit of water in the desert there is life, too. The road we took brought us through many spots of greenery. Before I had a little bit childish vision on oases. You know, the two palm trees and a pond? Apparently they can be even full forests of palm trees heavy from dates, surrounded by fields of mint.

While driving by one of those oases, we started to hope, that the next hotel would be in such a place. We got lucky, our navigator, still acting up, directed us to a small road, disappearing into the shades of the oasis.

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We pulled up to a hotel, which was located inside a beautiful garden, next to a quiet road. Dates, oranges and grenade apples hanging from the trees, just waiting for picking. Paradise, might one think.

 

 

We got our room from the back of the garden, attacked a few grenade apples and headed for a walk, deeper in the oasis. That particular oasis was used for farming and donkeys kept passing us by. The coolness of the air in that valley after a hot day on desert was so refreshing!

We reached the edge, and saw an old looking town and decided to have a closer look. We took a few steps towards the village and got immediately a man attached to our side. Introducing himself as a Berber, who’s family still lived in that ancient town of Berber merchants. He told us about the history and renovation while we approached. Apparently he was trying to sell us a guided tour around the place, even though we did not ask for one.

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That guy was surprisingly difficult to get rid of. He kept offering us just a small tour of half on hour, even though the sun was already close to setting. After all he gave up on his pleas and guided us to the riverbed and a trail that would take us back to our hotel. That trail brought us into the middle of rather beautiful gardens. We were off to bed early, since the next day would have to bring us all the way, over the High Atlas to Marrakesh. Meaning quite some driving.

The morning came, and brought a bird along. A bird that had for some reason gotten interested about pecking on windows. He woke us up with the banging with the first morning light. It would not quit, so we had to get up and start preparing for the last day.

We were up and running on the road well before 9, very happy about our loose timeline. No rush for the flight, plenty of buffer. Or so we thought, before getting stuck behind a slow, very slow, truck and other people, slow just for no reason, on a mountain pass. And donkeys. Donkey seems to be still the main transportation method in many mountain villages. At least we had plenty of time for sightseeing. Well, I did, Waffles eyes were tightly scanning the road.

 

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Hey transport. Full.

After all that we were getting stressed and hungry. So we stopped at a small Cafe Hassan, run by Hassan, a Berber. He was extremely happy to get tourists as customers, served us orange juice and tajine.

At some point that man started also get a bit… invasive… Wanting to take photos with us and getting pretty close to the skin. For my Finnish sense of personal space that was too much. Hassan did, how ever agree on pointing us the route up to a hill close by and guarded our car in the meanwhile.

Soon we noticed, that our time buffer was running out. We run too, down the hill, hopped into our car after shooing off our host and off to the serpentine again. As we drove, the minutes got shorter and shorter. Closing up to Marrakesh and we had only half an hour to spare. And the city center in front of us. Also, mister Murphy decided to pay a visit. GPS died, again, right inside the city walls. Panic.

Chaotic driving in random directions followed. We seemed to fit the crowd in that sense. I don’t know if anybody had a clear direction or destination in mind. Then, after a corner, we saw an angel, dressed as a police officer. He directed us towards the airport, through couple of corners.  After all, we managed to catch the plane, with only minutes to spare.

A sum up. Hm, I don’t think I will visit Morocco again, any time soon. The country is beautiful, yes and the food is good, also the people are friendly up until a certain point. But seeing so much nature being spoiled with trash, and animals treated as they are treated there, it makes me sad.

You can’t really relay on people either, since they very often are after your money, if they offer help. And as a blond western woman, you do get to feel the sadder side of the different culture