Marrakech

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My family returned from New York two weeks ago and it’s been full on with back to school, my son’s birthday party last weekend and his hectic soccer schedule since being accepted to play for Chelsea Academy, not to mention recent business travel but while they were gone (in between doing the most) I got to catch up on some overdue posts.  This one takes me back to a trip in April when I took my family to Marrakech, Morocco to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday.  We caught the first flight at the butt crack of dawn so we stayed at a hotel literally in the airport terminal so that we could roll out of bed and onto the plane with minimal stress.  A short 3 hours and 45 minutes later and we were in Marrekech; extra exciting was the fact that it was our first time on the continent of Africa. 

We arrived early at the Cesar Hotel where we lounged poolside while our 2 bedroom suite was prepared.  We enjoyed everything that our hotel had to offer from the indoor and outdoor pools, restaurants and rooftop lounge and of course the spa.  I was treated my husband and I to a full hammam experience starting with a body scrub, facial and massage.  To be honest, the body scrub felt like a form of POW torture but after I survived what felt like having my skin scraped off with a steel wool pad and the water boarding that followed, my remaining skin was left feeling silky smooth like buttah and the experience only got better with the facial and massage.

As usual, we did a lot in our 4 days.  The weather was warm but not oppressive so we opted to walk the 45 minutes from our hotel to the Medina while taking in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.  Once in the Medina we submitted ourselves to the usual tourist experience of being taken to a carpet store but this time I actually bought one.  We saw snake charmers, got henna tattoos, ate local food and bought lots of knick-knacks; the experience very much reminded me of the souks in Istanbul.

We hired a driver for a day and spent the day in the mountains to see how the Berber people live.  It was amazing to learn about this culture of people whose lives have been connected to the mountain for millennials, everything from when the snow melts at the top of the mountain bringing water to villages and farms to how farmers bring their harvests to market are all connected to the mountain.  Not surprising is the impact that tourism is having on the Berbers; where women are now left to farm the land while the men earn a living supporting tourism with camel rides and providing tours.  Our tour guide provided great insight into the recent changes and impacts of tourism.  He explained that it was only in the recent 15 years that a secondary school was built in the area of the mountains that we toured to bridge the gap between primary school which was the highest level of education attained by most up to then and college. 

We visited the beautiful and peaceful Jardin Marjorelle (Yves St Laurent) which was inspirational in its design.  I definitely plan to incorporate elements in my outdoor space one day.   My children astutely pointed out the similarities to the gardens in Monaco.  They often say that their travel memories are starting to blend together and I can understand why after traveling to 15 countries in 2 years. I used to wish that they could remember each place individually but then I realized that it’s probably not a bad thing for them to see the connections between the countries and cultures that they experience.  Perhaps if others saw more similarities than differences then the world would be a safer and more peaceful place.

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