I can hardly believe it, but it’s been almost seven years since I moved to Marrakech. Where has the time gone?
I arrived seeking a simpler life, a life with less, enriched by experiences. I loved the idea of late-night tajines and lazy pots of mint tea in the warm afternoon sunshine.
I’ve seen changes around town. Western corporations and traditions are weaving their way in to the local streetscape and culture. Traffic is becoming more and more intense during rush hour. Working here often requires putting in long hours and owning a business seems to be synonymous with spending my day doing administrative work.
On a personal level, I’ve seen friends come and go for various reasons. I’ve seen others arrive with big ideas, only to be discouraged by the reality of operating a business here.
But like the town itself, I too have changed. Yet my love of all things Morocco remain – the music, the food, the culture, the people, the lifestyle, the landscapes, the traditions, the festivals.
However, gone are my cravings for a late-night tajine. Like a true rockstar, I’m in bed most nights by 11 p.m. and am so particular about the tajines I eat given my training routine. The endless opportunities have turned me in to a solopreneur, a lifestyle I love including the endless hours required.
That said, life is not just boozy lunches by the pool. It’s chasing up administrations in between meeting amazing clients and discussing collaborations. It’s taking on projects that I wouldn’t have dreamt about working on in my former public employee life. It’s waking up scared, but pushing myself to my absolute limits every single day. It’s training with a personal trainer that pushes me to be my best. It’s banking systems that seem so completely foreign to a North American and signing cheques for the endless taxes due quarterly. Yet for me, life here is worth it.
So because I receive so many emails for people wanting to move to Morocco, or ask how I’ve survived this long, I’ve found a few things to be particularly helpful.
An oasis just for me
Having a little sanctuary to come home to at the end of the day is imperative. Climbing up the three flights of stairs to my sun-soaked apartment mansion at the end of a busy day then closing the door and knowing that I am alone in my little piece of paradise overlooking palm trees and villas, is sometimes just what I need. Other times it’s filled with friends stopping by for coffee, drinks on the terrace or boozy dinner parties. But ultimately, it’s my place where I can close the door on the hustle and bustle that is Marrakech and emerge when, and if, I want.
Escape the madness
I rarely spend an entire month in Marrakech. While it’s not necessarily a fast-paced city, Marrakech has a certain energy about it. I love it, but not escaping every once in awhile has an impact. With so much to discover nearby – mountains, desert, coast and big city life – I’m regularly travelling around the Kingdom, visiting friends, exploring what’s new, meeting new creatives, and taking a break from Marrakech. Casablanca is a new favourite for its big-city feel, art deco architecture and drinks on the coast. Essaouira is always a favourite where walks on the beach lead to drinks on the beach, followed by lunch or dinner in one of the fabulous restaurants on offer in the medina and surrounding countryside. Checking in to a simple little hotel in the Atlas Mountains is always a favourite as well where delicious Berber cuisine is prepared with a view and tucking in to bed next to a roaring fire is absolute heaven!
A little help from my friends
I surround myself with an amazing group of friends. They come from different walks of life and from around the world, with shared experiences and completely different backgrounds. Because I’ve learnt that in Marrakech you can know a lot of people, but they aren’t necessarily friends.
Get to know the maitre d’
Moroccans are known for their warm hospitality, and by getting to know the maitre d’ at local hotspots the hospitality will increase significantly. Cafe de la Poste is my go-to when I need to escape the world, and the amazing maitre d’ always knows how to take care of me until I’m ready to face Marrakech once again (anyone who’s been here knows exactly what I’m talking about). Over at Cafe Clock the amazing crew know just what I want for breakfast, afternoon snack and just even how I take my coffee. Having someone who knows exactly what you want and the way you like it, at exactly the right moment, is sometimes key! Other favourite hangouts include El Fenn were they always know how to keep the wine flowing at just the right times. The cafe at the musée Yves Saint Laurent marrakech is another favourite for it’s calm ambiance and amazing maitre d’.