Unplug and 'pause' in the Moroccan desert

A mere 28km (17m) from the busy city center of Marrakech, Morocco, find La Pause: an off-the-grid starry sanctum in the middle of the desert with 360° views of the Agafay Hills.

This is a hotel with a mission. La Pause, i.e. 'to pause' in French, is a place to disconnect, literally and figuratively. You won't have wi-fi, cell service or any electricity here. It's desert, mountains, stars, and minimalist luxury.

La Pause is where a traveler goes to turn off their mind. As part of the effort to maintain a restful environment, guests have hardly any decisions to make during their stay, not even when it comes to dining (there are no menus provided for meals and every dish brought to the table is a surprise). There's only one place to eat, one swimming pool, and no spa. The idea is to exude effortlessness.

Candelabras and tea lights lit at night provide just the right level of illumination. While the indoors may be a bit dark at certain times during the day, the rooms stay dry and cool. Suites are spacious and romantically styled, and the beds are a heavenly place to fall into at night. Trees and cushy lounge chairs surround the no-frills pool, creating a very natural, woodsy feel.

There's no place like the desert for stargazing.

Without electricity, there's an overwhelming sense of peace. Detachment from the outside world allows for isolated relaxation. It is impossible to engage in commotion or noise. The beauty of La Pause is in its simplicity: there is no opportunity for distraction.

Hot, bright, dry desert by day and stunningly starry at night. It's pretty close to perfect.

Photos courtesy of La Pause.

Roaming Middle-earth

I shot this while wandering around Hogsback, a village in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

They say Hogsback inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. This part of the forest area is completely silent; there's not a single bird to be heard. Why? Well, when colonists came to this part of South Africa, they planted trees that - unbeknownst to them - were diametrically opposed to the naturally occurring wildlife in the area. Because these foreign trees have nothing to offer the native animals, birds or insects, they inhabit other parts of the forest, and this spot is dead quiet. Fascinating? Yes.

"The world thus exists to the soul to satisfy the desire of beauty. This element I call an ultimate end. No reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks beauty. Beauty, in its largest and profoundest sense, is one expression for the universe." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The world thus exists to the soul to satisfy the desire of beauty. This element I call an ultimate end. No reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks beauty. Beauty, in its largest and profoundest sense, is one expression for the universe." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Clash of cultures

"A new artwork painted by Banksy on the treatment of people in the Calais camp known as the Jungle was removed from a site in Knightsbridge in London opposite the French embassy. Based on a poster for musical Les Miserables it shows a girl with tears in her eyes as a can of CS gas lies beneath her." Via the BBC, this week in pictures.

Photograph taken by Yui Mok

Photograph taken by Yui Mok

Bright Young Thing

By Sara Vide-Ericson

Love it! All of these paintings are oil on canvas or paper...don't they look like photographs? Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, this 32-year-old artist is quite a talent.

"There is intimate tension and quiet suspense in the new paintings and drawings by Sara-Vide Ericson. We are in the woods, in the borderland between culture and nature. In beautiful and eerie tableaus, Ericson takes us on a tightrope walk between the conscious and subconscious." Right up my alley.

uiThe Beast Turning Back, 2014

uiThe Beast Turning Back, 2014

Talisman, 2015

Talisman, 2015

Eels, 2013

Eels, 2013

Totems, 2015

Totems, 2015

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