I don’t consider myself one of those people who falls fast in love with a place. Usually, I detest everywhere I go. So when I booked a week at an Airbnb in Marrakech with my husband and stepson this past February, I figured I’d mostly be in for a surprise. If anything, maybe I’d find it curiously fascinating. Educational. Cultural. Or maybe just a good, old-fashioned family challenge. You know, the kind of trip that goes down in a family’s history.
We were not disappointed.
I’ve been wanting to go to Morocco since I was eighteen and studying abroad in Spain. Back then it was (and probably still is) off limits and ill-advised for women traveling alone. It was a repeated refrain, set on surround-sound I’d heard from my parents, teachers and fellow study abroad peers: Whatever you do, don’t go to Africa.
I wish I hadn’t listened. Morocco is like that old, new pal I wish I’d known sooner. I don’t know how I’ve lived this long without knowing the place. Something inside me was set free the moment I stepped off the plane, arriving into Marrakech’s Menara Airport. The plane pulled up and parked on the tarmac in front of the fancy, modern airport like no big deal. Without much delay, the passengers deplaned like capable adults instead of being treated like over-protected sheep, shuffled and herded onto a bus only to go three feet to the terminal. It was unlike anywhere I'd ever been: We simply got off the plane and walked towards the airport -- no barriers, no orange cones, no bus, no people directing us where to go. No hullabaloo health and safety regulations, Hallelujah. Stepping foot into the warm February night was liberating. It’s what I envision travel used to be in the old days. Glamorous. (Maybe even fun?) I was flooded with relief that freedom without the anxiety of so-called ‘safety’ might actually still thrive in the world.
First moments in a new country are so trustworthy. If I think of all the first moments I’ve ever had arriving somewhere new and foreign -- they provide the perfect preview of a place. In Spain, it was gawking men and cigarette smoke. In New Zealand, a blast of greens and blues and birdsong. In Belize, thick, slow heat. In Egypt, windswept and wonderfully lunar. Marrakech was no different. It twinkled in a wide open, intoxicating abundance.
Weaving in and out of Marrakech’s souks in the medina will teach you everything you need to know about life. In about five minutes. Who to trust, who not to trust, how to keep your wits about you, how to be lost, how to get found, how to haggle (and realize later you’ve lost), how to haggle (and realize later you have the hang of it), how easy it is to get ripped off, how hard it is to say no when you want something and how not to get hit by a donkey while a motorcycle whizzes past. If you don’t know a whole lot about life, the world or yourself, you’ll soon find out. All at once.
Incredibly full of flavor and people, scents and surprises, Marrakech is a warm, standing invitation, one that has been waiting patiently for you to say yes. And when you say yes, you enter into a contract, a covenant: here you are expected to fully embrace your part in the game of discovery. And if you are willing to be curious, to poke your head around walled entrances, to put your faith in strange, unsettling situations, Marrakech unveils herself to you unabashedly. Marrakech is a dazzling teacher, bringing out the wild, beautiful parts of yourself you hadn’t known you were made of.
Come along with us November 4th - 10th for seven days of writing, yoga and filling our creative wells with the delights of the enchanting city of Marrakech. The morning begins with rooftop yoga for all levels, followed by a locally-sourced breakfast. The days will balance writing sessions with opportunities for guided feedback while soaking in all that the city has to offer. Evenings will be spent gathered together over a shared candlelit deliciously made meal, stargazing from the rooftop, or reading by the fireplace. Together, we will build a community where, regardless of your writing background, you will have the freedom to explore the story you need to tell.