Argan Oil Giveaway – Who’s the Winner?

Argan Oil Giveaway – Who’s the Winner?

My little Argan Oil Giveaway closed at midnight last night so I’d like to thank everyone who has entered, commented and liked.  I’d especially like to thank everyone who tweeted about the Tighanimine Women’s Cooperative who produce the Argan Oil products.

As said before Argan oil is rich in vitamins C and E it’s an excellent natural moisturiser for skin and hair and has also been used for culinary purposes in Morocco for generations.  But the benefits of this organic oil go more than skin deep – production is creating a positive impact and empowering the women in this small region of South West Morocco.

The women of the Tighanimine Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative

The women of the Tighanimine Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative
Source: www.fairtrade.net

I guess you’d like to know who the winner is?  I’m very pleased to say that Jo from Restless Jo was the name picked out of the proverbial hat.  Actually I made a list of all who qualified to enter, popped them on a spreadsheet, numbered them, sorted them and then asked my Mister to pick a number – he decided on number 8 which matched up with Jo’s name on the list. (He’s still wondering why he had to pick a number!) I am particularly pleased that it went to Jo though because she was one of the very first people to follow my blog when I first dipped my toes into the blogosphere. Congratulations Jo, please get in touch via my contact page and I’ll arrange to get your prize to you.

I’m delighted to tell you that there’s another winner here and that’s the cooperative itself. In my giveaway post I said “Hopefully between us we’ll raise awareness of the Tighanimine Cooperative and help the women market their product”.  Last week I received an e-mail from Afafe, who represents the cooperative, saying that someone from Turkey had seen my blog post and had got in touch with Tighanimine with a view to purchasing their products.  I’m hoping it’s a big fat order and will update you when I know more.  If you tweeted it could well have been your tweet that directed this person to my blog so many thanks and please keep tweeting – you’ll be helping the women help themselves, their families and the village too.

Please keep up the tweets:

Inspirational – The Tighanimine Women’s Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative http://wp.me/p1tbVN-15f #arganoil #tighanimine #fairtrade

Henna Hands

Tighanamine village girl with Henna hands

 

Win Argan Oil Products!

Win Argan Oil Products!

I recently wrote about the inspirational women of the Tighanimine Fairtrade Argan Oil Women’s Cooperative  who produce cosmetic and culinary Argan Oil using traditional Berber methods.

The Benefits of Argan Oil

The benefits of Argan Oil go more than just skin deep – production is creating a positive impact and empowering the women in this small region of South West Morocco.  Sales improve the economic conditions of the local population with a special emphasis on women and girls.

How to use Argan Oil

The 100% organic oil can be used directly on the skin to moisturise, help with dry skin conditions and fade scars. Rub into cuticles to strengthen nails and the ends of towel-dried hair to strengthen and stop frizzing.  I add a few drops into my conditioner to help keep my hair in good condition without looking greasy.

Argan Oil Giveaway

Argan Soap and 50ml Argan Oil

Argan Soap and 50ml Argan Oil

Whilst visiting the Cooperative I couldn’t leave without buying some of the Argan Oil products and thought it would be nice to share.  There’s a 50 ml bottle of pure Argan Oil and an Argan soap made by the Tighanimine Women’s Cooperative up for grabs.  Here’s what to do:

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – find out who the winner is here

Twitter account holders please tweet the following:

Inspirational – The Tighanimine Women’s Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative http://wp.me/p1tbVN-15f #arganoil #tighanimine #fairtrade

Hopefully between us we’ll raise awareness of the Tighanimine Cooperative and help the women market their product.

And just for fun here’s me trying to crack those tough little Argan nuts!

Cracking Argan nuts

Not as easy as you’d think…

A Visit to The Tighanimine Womens Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative

A Visit to The Tighanimine Womens Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative

Whilst reading about International Women’s day and researching my trip to Morocco and Agadir, I learned that there are many Women’s Cooperatives producing Argan Oil in the area.  The Souss Plain in South West Morocco is the only region in the world where Argan trees grow and just outside Agadir is the very first Argan Oil Cooperative in the world.  Interested, I decided to dig deeper.  Via Twitter and Facebook I got in touch with Afafe Daoud, the spokeswoman for the Tighanimine Cooperative, who kindly offered to take me to visit the women.

The women of the Tighanimine Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative

The women of the Tighanimine Fairtrade Argan Oil Cooperative
Source: www.fairtrade.net

What is Argan Oil?

Argan oil is becoming increasingly popular in Europe; rich in vitamins C and E it’s an excellent natural moisturiser for skin and hair and has also been used for culinary purposes in Morocco for generations.  But the benefits of this organic oil are more than just skin deep – production is creating a positive impact and empowering the women in this small region of South West Morocco.

Afafe meets me and we drive about 20 minutes out of Agadir arriving at a small village surrounded by hills dotted with Argan Trees. Stopping outside a small building the first thing I hear as we approach is the sound of lively chatter – and then the cracking of Argan nuts as they are pounded between two stones.  The women sit on the floor around the edge of the room with large baskets of Argan nuts in various stages of preparation.

How is Argan Oil Made?

Argan Trees and goats

Argan Trees

After harvesting the fruits from the Argan Trees they are dried and the thick peel removed, the inner flesh is also removed by hammering with a large flat stone.  I decided to have a go and sat at a stone block; I removed the outer layer fairly easily – the nut inside was the size and colour of an acorn but incredibly hard.  The next stage involves cracking the nut to release the small soft almond-like kernels. It’s not easy – they’re hard nuts to crack without whacking a thumbnail – my attempts were pathetic but I don’t give up easily and eventually I cracked it!

This part of the process is the most time-consuming and explains why the oil is so expensive.  Afafe tells me that it takes one woman six days to produce a kilo of Argan kernels; 2.2 kilos are needed to produce just one litre of oil.

Extracting Argan Oil

Extracting Argan Oil

The traditional method of pressing involves grinding the kernels to a paste by crushing them between two flat round stones turned by hand – labour-intensive and time-consuming. The Tighanimine Cooperative is fortunate to have a small stainless-steel machine to press the kernels; during this process the temperature never rises about 40c to avoid oxidation and preserve the oil’s properties.  Once pressed the oil is decanted for 1-2 weeks and then filtered and bottled.  For culinary oil, the kernels are roasted before pressing to give a nutty taste.

How the Tighanimine Cooperative Began

Tighanimine Cooperative started up in 2007 as the women attended literacy classes run by Nadia El Fatmi, now president of the Cooperative, and since elected to the chair of Fairtrade North African Board.  The women wanted to do something to improve their family income and so started the Cooperative.  They were aware of the benefits of Argan oil – it had been used in the region for thousands of years and, of course, the profusion of Argan trees right on their doorstep helped.

Initially, the Cooperative was not welcomed by the men of the village – they’d traditionally been the sole bread-winners and were unsure about this change in the women’s role.  Gradually the Cooperative began to reap the benefits of hard work and the men became more accepting and there are now around 60 women working at the Cooperative.  The women are benefitting not only financially but through improved social position in a male-dominated society and of course Nadia’s literacy classes continue.

Tighanimine Products

Tighanimine Products

Fairtrade Argan Oil

Last year the Cooperative won an award from the Moroccan Network for Social and Solidarity Economy and the Pan-African Institute for Development for its work in good governance and economic development.  The prize will help the women increase production and market their own brand of Argan Oil called Tounaroz which they plan to sell in Morocco, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the USA. Gaining Fairtrade status ensures that the women earn a fair price for their endeavours which in turn benefits their families and the entire village.  It’s good to know that the women who work so hard to produce the Argan Oil are the people who actually benefit.

Moroccan Network Award

Moroccan Network Award

I was a little nervous about meeting the women but needn’t have been – everyone was very welcoming and although I don’t speak any Berber we managed to communicate with the help of Afafe’s English.  Thank you Afafe for all your help with my visit.  Nadia El Fatmi and the women are an inspiration and I hope this ethical Cooperative continues to grow and prosper.

Afafe Daoud, myself and Nadia El Fatmi

Afafe Daoud, myself and Nadia El Fatmi

If you’d like to contact the Tighanimine Argan Oil Cooperative you can email them here:

[email protected]                     [email protected]

PIN IT AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD…

Tighanimine

Morocco – Beaches, Berbers and Flying Goats…

Morocco – Beaches, Berbers and Flying Goats…

Agadir in southwest Morocco with its sun, sea and surf is perfect for a winter sunshine break but if you’re looking for traditional Moroccan style you won’t find it.  The town has a distinct European feel as it was completely rebuilt after a devastating earthquake destroyed it in 1960 tragically killing 15,000 inhabitants.

Agadir Beach, Morocco

“God, Country and King”

Agadir Beach

Agadir Beach, Morocco

Agadir’s long, wide sandy beach lined with restaurants, bars and hotels is the main attraction, as are the beaches further north, their rolling white breakers drawing the surf crowd.  Although we were happy soaking up some sun, whilst the snow settled back home, it wasn’t long before I got twitchy and felt the need to search out some traditional local colour.

There are some interesting historical towns within striking distance of Agadir and we booked a tour with a local guide to Taroudant.  This authentic Berber market town sits in the heart of the Souss Valley with a backdrop of the Anti Atlas mountains and has the best preserved town walls in Morocco.   To give you an idea it also goes by the moniker of Little Marrakech.

Flying Goats

We’re picked up at our hotel by a driver and our guide, Sala, wearing a blue cotton shesh – a Berber style turban – and start out for Taroudant which is about an hours drive inland from Agadir.  As we drive through the fertile Souss Valley see the distant snow-capped peaks of the Atlas mountains, catch sight of a caravan of around 30 dromedaries owned by nomad Berbers and pass  lush green orange groves the fruit ripe and ready.

We also spy the infamous Moroccan ‘Flying Goats’ – well not exactly flying – more just climbing trees.  The nimble goats clamber around the branches of the Argan trees munching on the foliage.  We stop the car to take a closer look and the herders are more than happy for us to take photos – for a few coins of course –  but worth every dirham because I’m still smiling about those goats.  The goats seemed quite bemused by us too.

Taroudant

We arrive at Taroudant, the apricot castellated ramparts concealing the bustle within, and enter the town through one of the nine ancient gateways.

The Walls of Taroudant

We have two hours in Taroudant; time to navigate the two small souks, stop off in the main square and soak up some real Moroccan life.  Men wearing hooded Djellabas and soft leather slippers slip quickly by while women draped head to foot in indigo blue, the Berber national colour, provide a bright contrast against the sun-bleached buildings.

The Souk Arab is a maze of alleyways selling local handicrafts; silverware, carved limestone, ceramics, saffron, spices, lanterns and leather.  I buy a mini tagine trio that I’m not really sure what to do with now I’ve got it home – the haggling with the shopkeeper was lighthearted although he was far more skilled at it than me!  Having said that people aren’t pushy and don’t approach us unless we show an interest – some are positively shy and it’s not hugely touristy.

The Marche Berbere, the other souk in town, is the food market packed with local people.  It’s lively and colourful; fruit and vegetables fresh and vibrant are beautifully displayed in alluring patterns – Morocco knows how to do patterns.  The mouth-watering smell of street food and spices waft from stalls and doorways and the summer-sweet smell of strawberries hit the senses as we pass by wooden carts stacked with pyramids of the ripe red fruit.  Cuts of meat hang from butchers windows that open straight onto the street and a large, plucked turkey languishes awaiting its fate. Flat breads are stacked high.  All the while the rasping whine of a Ghita, the Moroccan flute, follows us through the narrow alleyways.  This small enclave and former Berber stronghold buzzes with life.

Near the Square we came across some women demonstrating how they produce Argan oil.  I found this interesting as this was a very different scenario from the Fairtrade Womens Cooperative I visited in Tighanimine the day before – I’ll be writing about those amazing women in a future post.

We finished our visit with a stop in the heart of the town in the main square,  Place Assarag, and find a café with a roof terrace.  This is a good move because it means we get a great view of the square’s goings-on and can drink in the atmosphere with our mint tea without any hassle from the shouty man with the cobra in a basket.  It’s huge entertainment watching him get everyone else though!

Place Assarag, Taroudant

If you’re in Agadir and want to see a slice of real Moroccan life then Taroudant is the perfect day out.  At only an hours drive away it’s much nearer than the three hours to Marrakech – the people in the souks are a lot less pushy and the atmosphere friendlier.  You may even see some flying goats on the way!

We were picked up at 8:30 am returning at 14:00.  We had plenty of room in a large 4×4 which we shared with one other couple at a cost of €18 pp.  We booked through the hotel with a local tour company.

Multiples

Multiples

I’m drawn to taking photographs of multiples and these feature frequently in my travel shots – I just can’t resist all those neat little rows.   The souks in Marrakech were full of stalls and shops displaying multiples from food to footwear and leathers to lanterns.  Here’s what I found…

This is my take on Ailsa’s Travel Theme

Travel Theme – Sunset

Travel Theme – Sunset

Ailsa from Where’s my Backpack? and host of the Travel Theme has chosen ‘Sunset’ as this weeks subject. I first saw it on Mahdu’s sunset post from The Urge to Wander and a comment struck a chord with me – no matter where in the world we might be we all watch the same sun as it sets.  It’s inspired me to join in this weeks theme with some sunset shots from my own travels.

I find it hypnotic to watch as the sun dips beneath the horizon and will never tire of a beautiful sunset; a time to pause and reflect on the beauty of our world.  Here are some of my favourite shots which I hope capture that magical moment.

A beautiful golden sunset in Mauritius and then  afterwards (below) as the deeper pinks colour the ocean against the moody clouds.

The sunset (below) was in Sorrento this year – we stopped by a small bar overlooking the sea where a crowd of regulars gathered each evening to watch the spectacle.  This deep red sunset was stunning.

The setting sun reflected on rocks near Sossusvlei, Namibia – not strictly a sunset but I loved the way the rocks took on the deep orange and russet hues of the sinking sun.

And finally a sunset from home taken in May this year.  It’s a bit grainy as it was taken on a compact and I’ve zoomed in and cropped hard but I like the misty feel of it – for some reason the sun was enormous that evening.

Namibia – The Wildlife and the Wilderness

Namibia – The Wildlife and the Wilderness

The Desert Express

The Desert Express is a brilliant way to travel from Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, to Swakopmund on the coast, without missing out on any of the wildlife or scenery

As the blue, lumbering Desert Express trundled through the surprisingly lush landscape outside Windhoek, we spent the journey eagerly searching out cleverly camouflaged wildlife through the train’s large pictures windows.  It took a while to ‘get our eye in’ but once we did there was so much to see – strikingly marked Oryx grazed, bounding herds of Springbok were spotted and a flock of Ostrich raced headlong through the Savannah. (more…)

Friday Photo – The Dead Vlei, Namibia

Friday Photo – The Dead Vlei, Namibia

A dessicated tree in the Dead Vlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia

The Dead Vlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia is one of the most incredible and memorable landscapes I’ve ever encountered.  The Dead Vlei is a dried out clay pan where the parched earth resembles bleached cobblestones worn shiny by the blistering heat and the sand-filled shoes of tourists.  Emerging from the cracked earth the scorched black skeletons of 900 year old camel thorn trees are sillhouetted against a horseshoe of rich rust dunes – the tallest in the world.  What I love about this photo is the nest as a symbol of life against a backrop of  bone dry dust and heat.