I felt the need to write on this quiet Sunday morning in Marrakech. I have been staying in Morocco for three weeks already with one more week to go. This is the longest time I have ever spent here as an adult. To give you a bit of context, I was actually born in Rabat, Morocco. But as soon as I turned one, I was on my way to becoming a tiny Canadian.
My whole childhood featured visits every few years back to the homeland I would see & experience through my parents. They loved the country and only left it when I was a baby to give my sister & I broader life opportunities. So it was always special to see them back here. With my mom getting to reunite with family and the university she worked at. With my dad getting recognized as the veterinary in many small towns and driving us to all of his favourite spots for beautiful food & views.
I loved it as a kid! I would run off in the morning to go get warm baked goods for the whole family. I learned to swim in the ocean, on the same beach, we still visit to this day. This country felt like a curious yet interesting playground and everyone was sweet to me.
Sadly, that feeling went away as I grew up to be a woman. By growing up in such an open city like Montreal, I had the option to become my own person and there are no appropriate labels that define me to this day I find. While I am proud & happy to be a woman, I don’t look like one if your standards are defined by the length of my hair and feminine wardrobe.
In general, my looks are rarely seen as weird when I travel except here, in my dear Morocco. It’s been a struggle. From the customs at the airport to the corner café, I rarely get to walk without feeling eyes on me and as an introvert, it’s been incredibly tiring. It’s also been making me feel sad, to have such a strong disconnect with the country I am from. I think it also made my dad feel sad because, even though he wasn’t born in Morocco, it is the country that makes him the happiest. To this day, I think he still dreams that my sister and I might move back here when we’re older so we can take it slow and enjoy the Moroccan way of life.
So I decided to try something new this year. I booked a plane ticket but instead of going for a short week, I booked it for a month. Thirty days to change my mind. Thirty days to stop projecting things I’ve lived in the past to the whole country. Thirty days to visit this beautiful land like I would any other country. Morocco did deserve that after all.
And it worked. ♡
On top of having beautiful moments & places to share with you below, I have more places I want to see as early as next year. Coming back here doesn’t feel like a chore anymore but a gift that my parents gave me. I have a place I can get away to from winter if I wish to and I finally feel excited about it.
This trip has really been a game-changer and I can’t wait to see my parents and share these positive words & feelings I couldn’t before. Especially while I still can.
January 5th, 2020: I did share it with them on my return in late October. Just a few days before my dad passed away. The sadness will never go away but he’s in a better place and it’s all that matters. I will always love you my sweet & strong dad.
I visited Marrakech a few years ago with my sister’s family. The riad we stayed at was beautiful but quite far from the city center. Whenever we visited the souk or other areas of the city, it felt quite overwhelming to me.
This trip was much better for me as I had the chance to stay in an Airbnb in the trendy neighbourhood of Gueliz. The area was always very busy so it actually felt nice to make it back to the medina every few days, away from the cars.
I went to Couleurs Berbères for a full day because they were hosting a music festival. The property was so impressive and beautiful that it makes me want to come back to try their glamping experience. My favourite place was this rooftop that gave a beautiful view of the Atlas Mountains but also all the olive trees around. I got to do yoga at sunset there and stare at the stars laying down at night.
I booked one of Ayoub’s tours with a few friends. The tour was with Atika who walked us through most of the medina! We made it to some beautiful places I couldn’t have found by myself. It was fun to buy treats with her help and get to ask more questions about the local way.
I finally tried two hammams while I was in Marrakech. It’s not something new to me as a grew up with this custom at home but it definitely was new to let a stranger do that to me while wearing close to nothing. It felt amazing, including all the different essential oil creams & soaps they applied from head to toe. I was also impressed by the massage techniques used during the process. Of course, the best part was laying down in a beautiful room with mint tea and a few pastries after.
Café des Épices was my favourite place to start the day in the medina. The breakfast is incredibly generous and gave me the chance to indulge in so many textures and flavours that I simply cannot find back in Montreal. Of course, I ordered a mint tea and a café cassé (the coffee my mom always orders in Morocco) to wash it all down.
Amal was my go-to for couscous on Fridays. On top of being an amazing non-profit supporting woman, they mastered flavours close to what I’ve tasted from my skillful mother & grandmother and that says a lot.
While everyone has been raving about Jardin Majorelle, I very much preferred ANIMA about 40 minutes outside Marrakech. A free shuttle bus is offered round trip and the road is as beautiful as the destination. I loved taking in the mix of art & nature and listening to the birds all around me. The restaurant on location had a great rooftop where I took in the sun while enjoying a treat and reading my book.
I really enjoyed visiting the Atlas Mountains, just a few hours away from Marrakech. The mountains stretch across multiple countries and there are many ways to discover them. I was able to hike a part of them for a few hours and enjoy a tajine while taking in the view. I can’t wait to go back and plan a multiple days hike.
I booked myself a short trip to Essaouira as I had never seen this coastal city before and it was only two hours away from Marrakech. The bus costs less than $10 and drops you at the entrance of the medina.
I loved how small the old town was which finally gave me a chance to get lost in the multiple souks without being on my Google Maps to find my way back. The beach was also a big five minutes away from my modest hotel so I was able to get a swim in and enjoy mint tea on a long chair daily.
It definitely felt nice to be in such a quiet[er] place for a few days.
Vignoble du val d’argan
This vineyard was one of my favourite stops in Morocco! They offer a great lunch deal for 35 euros that includes a 3-course service, a visit to their installation and unlimited wine tastings by the pool. I had the pleasure to share my meal with the cutest retired couple from Berlin.
The Coast Café
I fell in love with this tiny restaurant steps away from my hotel. The menu was simple but offered all my favourite dishes cooked with care. The owner was lovely and I liked the vibe he created with his music and decor.
This wraps up most of the places that made this trip special. I’m looking forward to share more about my country in the future.