Exploring Marrakeshs’ Medina and the famous Djemaa El-Fna filled with snake charmers, acrobats fortune tellers, musicians and food stalls, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, overlooking the Atlantic, Fez el Bali – the UNESCO World Heritage site,  the Middle Atlas mountains, the Sahara on camelback, the highlights for me were definitely the tannery co-op in Fez, the Gnaoua music festival and the azure doors of Essaouira.

The medieval tanneries of Fez, produce much of the city’s renowned leather. The sight of dozens of men waist deep in vats full of dyes in an array of colors is really an unforgettable sight…and smell.

The camels are skinned in the narrow streets and the hides and remains lay scattered around, the hides are then thrown into the vats filled mostly with pigeon droppings, mixture of acids and cow urine then stomped on for hours to soften the leather so it can absorb the dye, then laid down flat to dry on nearby rooftops.

East Africa

It was a cold, very cold New Year’s Eve that sealed the deal between my friend Simona and I, to make the dream of seeing the African continent come to fruition. Though we went through Egypt on the way, we truly arrived in Africa when we stepped off the plane in Nairobi on september 13th.

After spending my birthday under the Nairobi sky, while camping in Mama Roche’s yard, we set off on a 7 hour bus ride to Malindi. From there a boat ride to the unforgettable island of Lamu, where time stood still.

It’s Muslim background and the simplicity of people’s lives is what invoked a certain unique beauty I had never come across before.

But it was the beauty of the people that struck me the most in East Africa; the colourful clothing of the Masai, their calmness and what seemed to me like an eternal peace with their vast surroundings. It inspired me to do some figurative painting, something I had never tried before. The warm tones and stark contrast, led me to trying out an Old Master’s glazing technique which I use to this day.

And the trip wouldn’t be complete without the five day challenging climb up Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, which we arranged with a guide we met on the bus crossing from Kenya into Tanzanya.

Starting out on the savannah, we did the gradual trek through the rainforest up to 4000m and then a scramble up to Gillman’s point to find that we still had a two hour walk through the stalactites of glacial ice to the actual highest point; Uhuru peak at 5895m (19341 ft). That last part of the trek was basically a four hour crawl, often on our hands and knees, feeling extremely sick all the way to the top.