Operation Morocco underway

by Julie Gibbons on December 22, 2008

Travel is infectious. We were no sooner back from our 3 months in Europe and we were thinking about where to go next.

It’s not that we don’t love Scotland, or indeed the people in it, but there’s so much world out there, it seems a shame not to drink it in.

And, we’re so very lucky that we can – thanks to the wonderful world of the internet. Sure, the internet allows us a few practicalities, like running an online business from anywhere (aka earning an income); providing WeeR with a wonderful up to the minute educational resource (he’s home educated); making travel arrangements and so on. But the most important travel tool it offers is putting us in touch with some truly amazing people. And it is two of those amazing people that inspired us to choose the location of this next adventure – to Morroco!

Annick and Keith have changed our lives in many more ways than one – not least that they helped facilitate our wedding in France this summer! – they are totally inspirational, in the most humble of ways.

They’ve travelled all over an have lived in such exotic locations as Reunion Island and Madagascar – and most relevant to us, Casablanca. You can see the contributions all these places have made to their rich lives in their beautiful Charentaise house which is bursting with exquisite hand made furniture, artwork and crafts; in Annick’s wonderfully aromatic cooking and in Keith’s eloquent delivery of tales about far off peoples; in their generous and open hospitality and their genuine warmth and affection. Most of all, it’s apparent in their encouragement and support and can do, practical attitude. They’re making the world a smaller place, and the people within it more tolerant and trusting.

Back to the business of choosing a location…

Seeking out some winter sunshine is definitely a big consideration for us and so southern Spain was in our minds as a natural extension from this summer’s travels – and the simplicity of travelling through borders in Europe is reassuring in it’s own right. Research, however was throwing up some pretty disappointing temperatures, and little home exchange opportunity in anything other than a holiday apartment, so nothing was happening fast in terms of settling on a destination.

However, in our continued correspondence with Keith and Annick, we were thrilled to learn about their plans to visit Morocco for a month or so to escape grey clouds in the Charente Maritime. Gentle questioning, and it became apparent we would also find the weather in Morocco agreeable, and the culture friendly and different enough to provide a huge learning experience for all three of us. In fact, Martin has already visited Morocco in his youth and remembers it affectionately. For my turn, I’ve spent time in Eqypt (pre WeeR) and adored it.

But where to go? Home exchange is not really part of the Moroccan culture yet, so that struck out. Agadir is a reasonably popular holiday destination for UK tourists, but offers up less authentic Morocco than one would expect, having been rebuilt in the 1960′s after a huge earthquake. Our summer experience had proven our affinity with the coast, so we were keen to live nearby.

Annick suggested Essaouira. It looks perfect – well, the internet presents it as such. I already feel an affinity with the shabby white-washed walls and blue painted shutters. I can almost imagine the smells from the spices and the fish. The sound of kids playing football on the beach. The calls to prayer….

We found a beach apartment to rent for comparatively little (all those fuel bills we’ll save on!) and so we’ll be following in the footsteps of Orson Wells and Jimi Hendrix … and many wind and kite surfers. We’ll be riding horses on the beach and we might see our way to a few freshly caught sardines (not many veggies in Morocco!). We’ll be rummaging in the spice souks and marvelling at the marquetry and wood work for which the area is renowned.

There will be so much more .. I’m only now beginning to accept our 2 months there as a reality with the booking of the flights.

Apartment. Check
Internet. Check
Innoculations. Check
Flights. Check
Passports. Underway
Arabic. Ouch …………

Countdown … 34 days to Day 1.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Peter December 23, 2008 at 9:50 am

Hey Julie, you’ll love Morocco!

We like the mountains, so Imlil is one of our favorite places, stay woth Houssine and family rather than the tourist gites http://www.trekmorocco.com/

Essauoira is great, been there a couple of times, a really tranquil laidback place, full of French hippies. Our favorite place is up on the battlements near the gatehouse on the corner, where the artist sits with the cats.

We spent most time in Marrakech this time round, just hanging out and eating kebabs in the Djnaa el Fnaa at night, pootling round the spice bazaar. We stayed here http://www.riadvillaelarsa.com very highly recommended!

Have a great time, when do you go?

Casablanca’s not much to see, maybe the Hassan II mosque, but not much else

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