Well what an adventure!
What a feast for the soul!
It was the time of our lives!
And I'm not just saying that.
In 2018, I set about creating a beautiful retreat itinerary for my 2019 Moroccan Retreat.
Curating the most magnificent stay I could conjure.
A true celebration of Morocco.
A foodie's paradise.
A bonafide 10 day adventure into magic, so carefully curated and so aesthetically indulgent, you felt your heart ache with the painful beauty of it.
And so it came to be.
And I launched.
And it sold out.
And so off I went, another 34 hour flight to Northern Africa to pay homage to this beautiful country that completely altered the fabric of my being.
I was nervous!
I was anxious.
But I had spent the better part of a year, so carefully curating this 10 day retreat, ensuring at every turn that my group would be indulged, cared for, warmly welcomed and beautifully looked after every single step of the way.
So I took a breath, released my fear 35,000 feet somewhere over the Middle East and I surrendered.
I arrived early, as I always do and always will, to make last minute preparations for my group. I met Julien and his beautiful wife Francoise and their gorgeous daughter Lila - and I was already in love!
Such warmth emanated from these beautiful French people, such immense kindness. My first night in Marrakech, I fell into a much needed slumber with tears of gratitude in my eyes and warmth flooding my heart.
I caught up with old friends, met with suppliers, tied up loose ends and then my attendees started to arrive!
Australia! Texas! Colorado! Baltimore! More Texas! California! Colorado again!
Oh my God and it began! And before I knew it, it was all over!
Marrakech can be a confronting, overwhelming, frenetic place for people who have never been there before. And you know, you never truly know your way around that place. The maze of the souk is utterly ridiculous - but getting lost has it's merits! It's how I've met the most beautiful people.
And so we set off on the grandest, most beautiful, most confronting and overwhelming 10 days of our lives!
The itinerary was carefully curated and alot of thought was put into having Riad Matham as our home base.
The aesthetic is calm, it's classically beautiful and truly a place to relax after the frenetic pace of the Marrkech souks.
It was utterly perfect!
The staff were magnificent and took such good care of us, we all wondered how the hell we would ever be able to go home and return to normal life again!
Just when my group was beginning to feel confronted and overwhelmed by Marrakech, I whisked them away to Salut Maroc in Essaouria. A beautiful seaside town of much slower pace. Cleaner, brighter and we had time to take a breath again!
Salut Maroc is a veritable feast for the senses! What a beautiful ode to Morocco! The entire boutique hotel unfolds like a poem beneath your feet.
We met Helen, the owner of Salut Maroc and spent time talking about her dream, that came to vivid, glorious life.
What an extraordinary woman! And a magnificent lesson in tenacity and belief! Manifestation is real my friends and the energy of Salut Maroc is physical proof of that.
We rode camels at sunset along the beach. Which was pure magic. I cried the entire length of the shoreline, so overwhelmed was I by the beauty. The sky bleeding into the sea, the realization that I was in NORTHERN AFRICA RIDING A CAMEL AS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN LAPPED AT OUR FEET!?????
What is this magical, incredible life I am living??
I was overwhelmed with gratitude! I was in love, I was thinking of my Mother's African blood coursing through my veins, my African ancestors and how unbelievable and inconceivable THAT moment riding camels, had once been!
I was honoured to be there as nightfall kissed daylight farewell!
And once again, Morocco reached into my rib cage and rearranged my bones, so it could love me some more.
Essaouria is a dream.
Such a welcomed relaxing change of pace, after the frenetic energy of Marrakech - we spent the whole next day enjoying it's splendor and shopping up a storm before heading home.
I would be remiss not to mention our driver here.
He played some epic Moroccan dance music as we got back to the madness of Marrakech....he turned the disco lights in the van on, the base pumped HARD.
He spoke not a word of English, but we smiled at one another and he winked.
We're baaaaaaack Marrakech! haha
And how beautiful it was to return to Riad Matham (home) and Riad Dar Kleta on our arrival back! Julien was there to welcome us with his usual swagger and warmth - Hisham had the wine ready and Khadija had cooked a feast for us!
There was nothing to do, but relax into the homely warmth of it. And It was perfection.
Of course we saw the sites, my favourite Marjorelle Gardens and YSL Museum - both just so beautiful and the lunch together as a group at Cafe Marjorelle was just beautiful. (it was a small miracle we all found one another again! But we did! Alignment at it's best!)
Rug shopping, souk shopping, jaunting, sourcing...just as Marrakech overwhelm began to set in again (and the rains!) I whisked my group off to Kasbah Bab in the Atlas Mountains!
Oh and the sky opened up! And It poured!!! I was glad we were no longer in the Medina of Marrakech - it was definitely not built with rain in mind!
So off we went to the Atlas Mountains - as always, driving in Morocco is full of danger and peril. I was giving birth to my own kidneys on several occasions! My nerves are always shot when we drive! And somehow I always have to sit up the front so I can see that we're literally JUST missing out on killing people as they speed past us! The anxiety!!!
This particular drive was made a little worse with the rain, the road we would have gone to Kasbah Bab on, was literally a raging torrent - so we went the long way around. And of course, Kasbah Bab is atop a hill - the road is underdeveloped and winding and terrifying. In normal hot weather, I suppose it would have been fine if I'd just closed my eyes - but in the rain, the mud.....OMG!
I died a thousand deaths on that drive and had 73,000 new grey hairs (as if I needed more!) But alas, we made it!
And Kasbah Bab was a DREAM.
So the terror was worth it! haha
I was so shocked at the countryside, the views, of course, are utterly breathtaking - but the countryside was rich and green and looked so much like Tuscany after all the glorious rain! The year before it had been desolate and dry, not an inch of grass anywhere - so this lush green countryside had me starry eye'd for our entire stay.
That's to speak nothing of how beautiful Kasbah Bab is! A rustic, opulent, magnificent stay in Ourika. A labor of love and pure magic to behold.
As the weather was not ideal and a room mix up had occurred, we enjoyed wine and lovely food as the fires roared....for hours....and hours.....and hours...and then at some point we moved to the room with the grandest view of the Atlas Mountains and continued to drink wine by an open fire....
I literally drink 3 or 4 times a year. Maximum.
This level of wine consumption was ridiculous for me. I heard myself speaking at one point and couldn't even pronounce a word I was trying to say! It was a blow out. I had come undone! haha
I sprained my ankle in the mud at Kasbah Bab. Luckily I was drunk and fell like a literal trailer of jello...so didn't break anything.
But here I am, a month since being there and my ankle is still swollen and still sore. Ahhhh the memories!
I don't remember much from that night....I do remember falling in the mud and laughing and laughing and laughing....thinking back on it now, I'm giggling to myself. This group of women were utterly incredible. What a time we had together!
We fell in mud! (Ok, only I was actually stupid enough to do that. But it was so funny I had tears rolling down my cheeks!)
The next day bought clarity with her! And sunshine!! Oh and the Atlas Mountains were utterly magnificent!
When someone offered me a drink at 11.30am I almost yelled NO! hahaha
The ladies busied themselves with facials and massages and hammam - I took in the glorious countryside, the roaring fires, the internal beauty, I chatted with staff, I walked through Kasbah Bab's vegetable garden and I was in absolute and utter awe of the glorious Atlas Mountains.
The energy of this place is magical, it's the cradle where Africa meets Europe....the energy is powerful and I meditated in the garden and was filled with joy in every cell of my being.
The Atlas Mountains are magic. Pure magic.
And just as we'd relaxed into the warm embrace of Kasbah Bab and our bellies were full and the food was divine and the wine was magnificent and the roaring fires left searing happiness across our souls - we made our way back to Marrakech! Back home to Riad Matham and Riad Dar Kleta.
And do you know something? By this stage of the trip, it felt like we were coming 'home' again. The group weren't as fearful of the souks anymore. It was less confronting, less overwhelming and more of a challenge now.
We of course ate at some of the most spectacular places! This retreat I designed quickly became a foodies paradise and I literally chose the most magnificent experiences (bar one, which was recommended...but was a flop. But we drank enough wine that night to forget the very terrible service! I shall mention no names! ha)
But every other dining experience was 5 star and magnificent! Truly.
You would never think of Morocco as a foodies haven. But let me assure you, it is! The food is truly something to behold.
And before we knew it, it was the end of our retreat - our final dinner is always at the incredible and breathtaking El Fenn - on the rooftop to enjoy our final sunset over Marrakech - to listen to the soulful and hauntingly beautiful call to prayer for a final time...and to enjoy a decadent, memorable, magical experience together as a group.
And we did.
It bought some of us to tears.
So moved were we by the Atlas Mountains, the call to prayer, the beautiful service, the wonderful women we were with and the knowledge, that this was the end of our time together.
Morocco invites you - No! Literally MOVES you to feel.
If nothing else.
It moves you to feel.
These retreats force you into places of intense discomfort, They make you assess yourself and your life.
Morocco itself, is a powerful dichotomy of ruination and beauty. But the beauty has to be looked for in Marrakech, amidst the madness of the every day.
But if you seek it, you will find it.
And becoming uncomfortable, means we are in a state of growth.
And growth is beautiful. Sometimes messy. But being uncomfortable, is always the start of something truly remarkable unfurling in your being.
Joining a group of women you've never met, on the other side of the world, in a place you've never been, is confronting. Uncomfortable. And takes a great leap of faith and trust.
When these ladies spoke of worlds colliding and the Universe aligning to set them on this retreat with me, my heart swelled in my chest.
I always believe, as with the products I source and sell and now the retreats I host, that my pieces end up with who they're meant to be with and the people who are meant to be alongside me - will be there with me.
There are no accidents in life.
We are bought together by a leap of faith and a dream in the heart.
The desire to live, to experience, to indulge every passion and sense until life is devoured whole and dripping from our lips - the plaintive ebb of satisfaction throbbing through our bones....
And so it was.
So it was.
I am so grateful to have met such a marvelous group of enchanting souls.
Morocco always changes and alters the fabric of my being in the most beautiful of ways...but to share my love for this country, with a group of inspiring and inspired souls, makes the journey, a truly remarkable one for me too.
Each time, I learn. I grow. I fall more deeply in love.
I am excited about the next retreats to Morocco - you can find them here.
And even more excited to add other spectacular destinations to my retreat repertoire. Coming soon!
Thank you Salut Maroc! You were a feast for every sense!
Thank you Kasbah Bab! You were magic unfurling in our hearts!
Thank you ladies! Every one of you.
Viv, Lauren, Lindsay, Cindy, Tonya, Cherry, Mama, Connie, Rosanne, Shannon, Mimi and Tiffany!
You are all pure magic and I miss you tremendously!
Thank you for coming with me, with such open hearts and so ready to feel the beauty and the overwhelm and the magic of Morocco! Thank you!
And thank you Morocco! Thank you with all of my heart! For taking such tender-loving care of us.
We had the time of our lives!
Inshallah my friends! I cannot wait to see you again so soon!
And if you're thinking of coming?
If you're sad you missed out?
If you feel the pull and call to journey to Morocco in your bones?
It's time my friends! It's time to leap!
Join me next time!
Don't let life pass you by one minute longer.
Don't remain watching from the sidelines of life!
It's time to drink the sweet nectar for yourself.
Fill your cup!
Feel the incredible life force of change and inspiration throbbing through your being, as you too, are led and willingly immerse yourself, on the journey of a lifetime.