Posted by Tammie Umbel, CEO Shea Terra Organics on 12/24/2012
my love for ghassool, Morocco’s wonder lava-clay has to do with its creamy
chocolate, pudding like texture. But in reality I know that it is ghassool’s healing
and anti-aging powers that have made me fall in love with this rare, ancient
clay. In fact, I have been covering my entire body in ghassool for nearly a
decade. I have recommended it to numerous desperate mothers looking to rid
their poor teenagers of terrible acne outbreaks. I myself have used the amazing
clay a number of times to get rid of my own hormonal acne when nothing else worked.
I have used it to purge and soften my face, wash my hair, detox and the list
goes on and on. I could only dream of the day when I would view the source of
this miraculous clay for myself.
ended up in the wrong part of Morocco just six months earlier, I was nervous
and a bit in disbelief as I approached the low Atlas, the only place in the
world where ghassool Moroccan lava clay is found. We stopped several times in
deserted little towns to make sure we were headed in the right direction.
Unlike many parts of Morocco, this place was scarcely populated. Rarely did we
pass a car, a donkey or even a pedestrian. Not much greenery to be seen, we
were surrounded by shades of browns and reds. We finally approached a small
building on our right. There were several wheelbarrows and dumpster like
containers. It appeared we had finally hit our target. We asked about the exact
location of the mines. The workers wanted to help but at the same time were
hesitant. They were not sure that we had the proper official permission we
needed to enter the area. They directed us down to their next processing
station. We again were greeted with the same hesitation, but they agreed to
call the engineer of the mine to try to secure our entry. One of the workers
got in the car to take us to the road that would lead us to the mines. There
were no signs from the road otherwise.
we drove up the dirt “road” the kind gentleman got out in what seemed to me the
middle of nowhere. I assumed he was walking back to the processing center. Much
to my horror, we picked him up several hours later to drive him back.
Apparently he was too far from the center to walk and simply sat there in the
middle of nowhere waiting for us for hours. Bless his soul.
tried to take in the scenery as we neared the mines, but I was too nervous.
Camels dotted the terrain. Low, sandy colored mountains spread across the
backdrop. What a wonderful place for sniper fire! As morbid as this sounds, I
expected bullets to spray at us any moment. We were approaching a secure area.
A possession of the Moroccan king, I expected armed guards to appear from
behind the mountains in black tanks in pursuit of us. But alas, my adventure
would not be so eventful. All was silent as we approached the single bar that
separated us from the great mountains of ghassool.
was the moment of truth. The whole way I kept telling myself that we couldn’t
possibly get access to the ghassool mines. Firstly I didn’t think that my
driver would actually know how to get there. He surely didn’t know how to get
there six months prior. Secondly, unlike my last visit, I didn’t have official
permission to enter this time. Thirdly, this was too grandiose of an idea to
ever reach fruition. I prayed the whole way there. I prayed at the gate. This
is not the first and probably won’t be the last time I found myself in this
situation. Beyond the clouds of doubt, deep inside I knew that even when things
looked bleak and weary, I was always blessed enough to come through victorious.
With the exchange of only a few words, the man who had popped out of a canal
below, pulled out a key and opened the padlock to remove the bar, our only
Morocco one says “Alhamdulilah”, meaning “All Praises are due to the Creator.” I couldn’t believe we were actually
approaching the mines. Only one more hurdle. We didn’t have government
permission to be here and now we had to face the mines’ engineer. And face the
engineer we did. The scowl on his face was the first obvious sign that he was
not at all happy to see us here. For thirty minutes the engineer and the driver
went back and forth in what looked like a skilled display of chess. I couldn’t
quite understand what all was being said, but with his usual candor my driver
used his charm to make several advances. But don’t worry; I used some charm of
my own. I sat innocently in a chair and smiled when referred to. I drank my tea
with humbleness and gratitude. My videographer (my eighteen year old son), came
in with some “salams” and it quickly became apparent that this twenty-eight
week pregnant woman and her young videographer were totally non-threatening.
But don’t be fooled. Throughout my curtness I continued to pray. Suddenly,
rather surprisingly the engineer’s attitude changed. He smiled at me and said
that he would get permission from the minister in Fez himself. Before I know it
the minister asked to speak to me. I am very phone shy, but what was I to do at
this moment? I spoke to a very charming gentleman who was rather warm and
friendly. I was invited to visit their factory in Fez. What an invitation! I
found this to be exceedingly kind of him. I thanked him for his invitation of
kindness and told him on my next visit I will make sure to visit as we had already
passed Fez the day before.
engineer handed us each a hard hat and we drove a short drive to reach the site
of a current excavation. I took note of how barren the region is. Only small
rocky mountains fill the landscape for miles, and I was about to experience how
“rocky” the mountains actually are. We get out of the car and walk to the side
of a mountain wall. At this point I realize we are standing on top of the mine,
not being driven around to it. A few seconds of panic sit in. Oh boy! Well, no
time to stand there and fret. From time to time I have been faced with moments
where I questioned my sanity. “What? Are you crazy?” I know the answer is
already yes so no point in dwelling on it. The men are already half way down
the side of the mountain. It is not too far down but it is very, very steep. I
am wearing an ankle length dress. The winds are blowing fiercely as a storm
closes in from the High Atlas. My scarf constantly blows in my face blocking my
view and occupying one of my hands. Fact check: do you remember reading the
part where I am twenty-eight weeks pregnant? Well, there is no turning back
now. My son maneuvers the side of the mountain with the video camera in front
of me. I was pleased that he captured my fall on camera. No need to fall in
vain. My boot slipped on one of the numerous loose rocks. I feared I would
slide and begin to spiral uncontrollably to the bottom of the mountain side. I
knew I had to gain control fast. Very thankfully I was able to grasp a few
things on my way down and my fall didn’t last too long. Now- if only I could
get up before the men in front of my turned around to find me in a not so
upright position. Thank the Creator I managed to make it safely down the rest
of the way. But now my second challenge was about to begin.
Click here to purchase Moroccan Lava Clay.