May 9th – Argan Oil Cooperative, Travel to Essaouira
We have a leisurely morning before departing Marrakesh. The only thing scheduled was for a henna tattoo artist to come to our hotel to paint anyone who was interested. Here is what I ended up with.
It would take a couple of hours to dry completely so I left it alone all afternoon to make sure it was cured before removing the film and glitter. It will slowly fade and be gone in a week or two.
Driving out of Marrakesh, we passed by some newer, upscale areas which were in stark contrast to the old medina area.
Finally we get to the outskirts of town and the desert raises up to meet us as we glide down the highway in our oversized bus.
But the terrain does give us some variety along the way and again I am impressed with the natural beauty of Morocco.
Our only scheduled stop of the day is at the Argan Oil Womens Cooperative to learn how this elixir is traditionally extracted from the argan nut.
First the ripe yellow fruit is harvested, either manually or with the aid of the tree-climbing goats. Since the fruit itself is not used in the oil production, having the goats eat it speeds up the process and eliminates one step for the co-op.
Then the women have to go through two more layers to get to the inner almond. This is labor intensive and done by hand, cracking the outer shell with a rock and separating each piece.
When down to the almond it is time to extract the oil. This is again done manually with a draconian era grinding wheel.
So why all the fuss and bother to harvest Argan Oil? In a nut shell, (pun intended), according to the Internet, besides being a nutritional food source, it is being used for:
Argan oil contains ingredients that appear to preserve and protect skin. High in unsaturated fatty acids, argan oil helps repair skin cells and allows the skin to retain moisture and nutrients that make wrinkles less noticeable. The oil contains high levels of vitamin E, which neutralizes free radicals that damage skin.
A study conducted by a team of Bulgarian researchers found that argan oil mixed with sesame seeds and saw palmetto controlled and reduced levels of sebum, an oil produced by the sebaceous glands that can cause acne. Subjects in the study also experienced a reduction in the appearance of oily facial skin.
The same nutrients in argan oil that benefit skin also help the scalp and hair. Argan oil seeps into hair shafts, adding moisture and repairing cell damage. The oil also gives hair luster and strength.
It is NOT cheap to get the pure organic oil, and if you are getting it in most places other than in Morocco, you are probably getting a small percentage of the actual argan oil that has been cut and mixed with other oils and/or additives.
But here at the cooperative we were able to purchase the pure products. They have just the simple oil, or creams for your face, eyes, or feet. They also carry a men’s aftershave, soaps and a few other products.
And yes, I did get a small collection to try to reverse or at least slow down the aging process 🙂
We arrived in Essaouira late in the afternoon in time for a short familiarization tour before checking into our hotel.
What a charming town! Set on the Atlantic Ocean, it is a kite surfing mecca.
Home to a variety of left overs from the hippie generation who have remained mellow, artistic and prone to indulging in a green substance that can be rolled or smoked in a hookah pipe.
It is also a burgeoning fishing community.
Along the water front and entering into the old walled city.
Our guide, Ham, had suggested that we do our shopping here in Essaouira as the prices and choices were excellent. We are looking forward to exploring the shops and back alleys tomorrow in this adorable town.
Inside the walled city:
And our hotel for two nights.
Overnight: Hotel Dar L’Oussia, Essaouira
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for learning about the traditional way that argan oil is produced. The argan tree is grown exclusively in Morocco, however Israel has recently had some success in getting a few trees started there. Whether hype of not, it is being billed by those in the cosmetic industry as a miracle maker. Maybe this time next year I’ll look 10 years younger…
If you are new here, or just recently discovered our blog – WELCOME! We invite you to join us as we continue our exploration around the world, one corner at a time.