Five | Cinq | Khamsa

Dear readers, it’s been five year.

Yes five years since I arrived in Marrakech. For five months. To learn French so I could go back to Canada and get a better government job.

And well, it’s been the best of times. And yet, the worst.  I’ve tried to leave twice, but I also miss the inexplicable energy. And now I seem to have found my groove. And my tribe. So much so that I don’t show any sign of leaving this great city in this wonderful kingdom. Oh no. You see, Morocco is my happy place. Where my soul comes alive. Where I smile non-stop (although there are certainly frustrating moments). And feel sad when I know I have to leave Morocco if even just for a short while.

You see, the lifestyle is just so desirable. I was recently with clients who could hardly peel their eyes from their US-based mobile phones to look up and enjoy the beauty of Morocco that surrounded them. Yes, I have a business and I need to be accountable and responsible, but I don’t feel the pressure that I felt in the West – the constant need to be connected, on the Top 30 under 30 list (back in the day, I would no longer qualify based on age), winning awards for my work etc. You see, we move at a slower pace here – lingering a little longer over a coffee, chatting a bit more about ideas and interests, experiencing the beauty around just a bit more. And I like it.

But it’s also the weather – seeing the sun every day (almost). The food – vegetables that taste like vegetables, mouth-watering tajines, street-side cafes and street food. The music and the festivals.

And so with each day, I settle in a bit more. Make this place “home” that much more.

That said, I realize it’s not for everyone. Nope. I’ve said good-bye to many friends. You see it’s not perfect. But no where is. The city has its faults and frustrations. Not everyone is as nice as they may seem upon meeting. People have ulterior motives. Things that are so easy at home, are more difficult here. Contrarily, some of the things that are more difficult at home are easier here.

But along the way, I’ve learned a few things to make life here more enjoyable:

A peaceful little haven to come home to is imperative
I recently moved in to the apartment mansion, a three-bedroom apartment just for me. It has things I have dreamed of my entire apartment dwelling life – balconies on both sides of the apartment,sunlight flooding through from both sides, but most importantly, a washing machine hook-up.

Marrakech is a bustling city. Walking outside is a sensory overload with the colours, sounds, scooters, men who make comments, uneven sidewalks, street scenes that double as street theatre (at least for me). So when I come home at the end of the day, I want a little oasis. There are days I don’t leave, preferring instead to invite friends around or spend a day to myself.

Escapes from Marrakech are necessary
There’s more to life in Marrakech than just hanging out in the city all. the. time. You’ll find me at the coast, in Moulay Idriss or in the Atlas Mountains on a regular basis just to change the pace, the scenery and most importantly clear my mind so I can return to Marrakech and appreciate it in all its glory.

The more you engage, the more you get
It can be said of many places, but there truly are so many festivals, events and great things happening that it’s not just about hanging out in (over-priced) restaurants and cafes where only expats hang out. Since engaging more, learning the languages, travelling more, experiencing more, doing more, I feel enriched and like I am getting so much out of this place.

Fewer friends, fewer disappointments
A hard lesson to learn for a social gal like me, but one that needed to be taught. I now enjoy meeting my few friends for coffees, art exhibits, festivals, films and glasses of wine. Or spending time alone – I’ve become very comfortable with that. Everyday I’m thankful that I have my little tribe. Even if we’re a small tribe. In my eyes, we’re a strong one!

And so after five years, I read the quote above and think, AMEN!




0 thoughts on “Five | Cinq | Khamsa

  1. I love this. Reminds me of how I felt living in Japan. When I was there I went to festivals, was so open to meeting new people, put less pressure on myself in terms of my career and just lived. I was so present and awake. I have to remind myself that there is still beauty around me. To try to view Ottawa through the eyes of a tourist because it’s not really about where you are, it’s about truly being where you are. Though, I’d take the warmer weather any day!!

    1. Thank you. You’ve been a real star since the beginning, always encouraging me and helping me get through the difficult moments. Hope to see you here one day soon xx x

  2. Mandy,

    I love your article and your blog in general!!! You depict your life experiences in Morocco so beautifully that everyone can tell you are truly ” at home” despite some ups and downs you’ve been through.

    I live in London and I can tell you for sure that everytime I come to Morocco, it’s much harder for me to return to grey and dull London.

    Morocco is so full of gorgeous landscapes and incredible people with such positive energy that I just feel so alive when I’m there.

    I keep working on my dream of packing up my bag for vibrant Marrakech. I have two more years to go in extremely boring London before I can turn my plans into reality…

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