It’s time to look back on the year that was. The other night I was enjoying a glass of mulled wine with a dear friend, discussing how far we had come in the past year. You see, 2015 was a year of growth. Personal, professional and emotional. It was an enriching year as I engaged deeper and deeper in Moroccan culture.
Life began to change for the best in January. I decided I had had enough of living in the Marrakech medina, avoiding scooters/donkeys/male glances every time I needed to head out for even the most basic needs. I rented an apartment mansion in old Gueliz where my balcony overlooks the palms trees and art-deco villas, where street-side cafes and restaurants serve the best street eats, where art-deco gems house secret showrooms, galleries and more to be uncovered. Since moving in, the energy has completely changed and I love to just sit at home, entertaining friends or reading a book. I know, it’s a whole new Mandy!
I met some absolutely fascinating people during the Tasting Marrakech food and cultural tours I launched in Jemaa el Fna. Families who wanted to experience the night-time ambiance of this famous square. Foodies and food journalists who wanted a deeper understanding. Couples who have become friends having shared the evening together, discussing life abroad and life in Morocco. For this I am truly grateful.
I had the opportunity to work with new clients. One project in particular sticks out as I worked on a destination marketing campaign for a guest house in one of my favourite areas of Morocco. Super fun and the client has become an even closer friend and professional colleague.
The year wouldn’t be complete without travel. And this year I wanted to do more travel within Morocco. With an endless amount of festivals to attend, I danced the nights away at the Gnaoua festival in Essaouira, admire the architectural gems that doubled as concert venues during the Fes Festival of World Music, chatted film and world issues during the Marrakech International Film Festival and was transported, if only via song, to Andalusia during a weekend in Essaouira. And a press trip to Ait Bougmez provided the perfect opportunity to explore a rather off-the-beaten path destination and a deeper understanding of Berber culture and life in rural Morocco.
But a city break to Detroit continues to have me longing for and wondering what business opportunities may be had in this come-back city. It’s very rare for a city to draw me in like that. But I’m not ready to give up on Morocco, the country I visited over five years ago and still have a love affair with.
My dad celebrated his 60th birthday and as my family celebrated together I struggled with living so far away, being the “aunt who lives in Africa” as my nephews refer to me amongst their friends. I miss the simple moments spent with my family. To be honest, the move here hasn’t been easy on my family. I know that. But the relationship between us is getting better as the understanding increases.
Times weren’t always easy. I struggled with feeling alone. I questioned if things would be easier if I had a partner. I said good-bye to certain people while my relationships with certain friends grew stronger and deeper. My work-hard, play-hard lifestyle took a toll on my health and I spent many days in bed, completely exhausted.
But I love Morocco. And am beyond grateful for the opportunities I have had here. Including the amazing people I’m fortunate enough to call friends. But also dear readers who stop by my little blog, email words of encouragement or words of wonder. And so as another year comes to an end, I am blessed!
All the best for 2016 dear readers.