I love getting back to nature, but I also love my comforts. My Berber-style tent cabin at L’Ane Vert (The Green Donkey) in Tafedna, south of Essaouira, was a perfect option for me.
L’Ane Vert is a fairly new, eco-friendly lodge that mostly caters to young, hip surfer types. The terrace in the main lodge is a gathering place with WiFi (which sort of works), comfy seating areas, a bar, kitchen and dining tables. At any point you might have someone break out a guitar or begin a yoga session.
When we arrived, the person at reception showed us our rooms. Paula and Susan were in the main lodge, in huge rooms at the top of the hill overlooking the valley. Paula had a near heart attack when she found out that one of the rooms booked for us was down below the main lodge in a tent with a “dry toilet,” since she had specifically requested Western toilets. The employee reassured us that it was a Western toilet, but it didn’t use water. I enthusiastically accepted the option despite Paula’s concerns.
To reach the cabins, we had to descend a steep rocky staircase built into the side of the cliff. I felt a bit like a goat as we made our way down toward the structures constructed of part concrete, part heavy woven blankets. I was taken to Tigmi, which was different from the others with wood and glass in the sitting area. To the left was a queen bed, and an en suite bath was through a hanging towel in the back.
The bathroom indeed had a “Western” toilet. The difference was the basket of wood shavings with a large metal ladle. Basically it works like horse bedding—you use the toilet as usual and then add a scoop or two of shavings from the basket to cover. Eventually the waste is composted.
Everything in the lodge is sustainable, from the building, which was done completely by hand using only local materials, to solar water heating and water processing. It is run by a foundation and staffed by a variety of volunteers who receive free food and lodging in exchange for their work.
Despite Paula’s concerns, I slept better than I have in a very long time. The peepers lulled me to sleep and left me with the most fantastic dreams.—Stacey Wigmore