Wow! Where to even start to write about this trip of a lifetime. In the first hour after my plane landed I already felt like I'd seen more than I had in my whole life.
The Dar Kawa Riad had a driver waiting for me at the airport. I was so grateful to be able to use the Whats Up App to communicate back and forth with the manager at the Riad and my driver that was appointed to pick me up. As my driver got my luggage settled in I texted via the App to my family that I was safe and that I trusted the driver. The funny thing was, that I was nervous and accidentally texted the driver instead of my family. It made for a good ice breaker for our language bearing conversation. LOL
As we got going on the highway leaving the airport I couldn't take pictures fast enough as there were whole families on mopeds racing down the big interstates with babies and groceries stuck in between their bodies and a 3 year old sitting on the back holding on for dear life to their mama. And yes they were going as fast as we were on the big highway.
The donkeys plopping down the road pulling carts filled with building supplies and merchandise and they were moving a little slower than us. There wasn't a fast lane or a slow lane. It was more like dodging in between where ever you fit in.
Soon we had arrived in the Medina of Marrakesh. Which is basically a wall build around a huge city. It was Sunday when I arrived and that was market day so the streets were extra busy. The Riad manager Eric met us in the sea of the busy streets. I literally had to wipe my face off the cobblestone streets in disbelief of all that was happening around me. I was in total awe of the culture that reminded me somewhat of how I was raised. I heard that I needed to grow a thick skin with the way the men talked to you and to always have my money and phone in a safe place. This was very different from the community I come from here in Amish Country. I felt overwhelmed and excited at the same time if that's possible. As Eric the Riad keeper paid someone to cart my heavy suitcase to our destination I managed to sneak a picture or two. The people in Morocco are similar to the Amish about having their pictures taken. They don't mind if you do business with them or if you have relationships with them.
We came around a corner and just like that a donkey had his nose in my belly. Yes! I'm not even joking. I kept thinking is this a dream or is this real life!?! After trusting and following my leader through many turns that I was thinking there's no way I'll ever be able to navigate this on my own. We got to this beautiful huge dusty blue door that had amazing details in it, detailed with beautiful rivets, latches and hinges. He pulled an old fashioned key out of his pocket and unlocked the gate to heaven. NO! For real it was like an oasis of the most amazing architecture and live plants with tile and the aroma coming from the Jasmin tree in the courtyard. It felt somewhat like heaven after the streets of the Medina and 24 hours of traveling. I instantly felt safe and protected from the unknown land I was about to explore.
He dragged my heavy pink suitcase up a winding steps made out of the most beautiful tile. I kept apologizing and telling him that I stuck a suitcase inside my suitcase so I can shop. He just kept telling me its ok and I could soon tell I'd only speak on what was the most important to get my message across. He could understand a limited amount of English but enough to communicate. Funny thing was I found out a blabber a lot about stuff that wasn't that important. My girls back at home soon told me my English in text form was getting pretty bad after a couple days. I'd just use the words that I felt got the message across and I guess that didn't fly with them.
Once I arrived in my Riad they told me my lunch was waiting. I felt so special they had prepared a special meal just for me.
I had arrived a couple days before the retreat started, to have some time to adapt to the culture.
As soon as I got all settled in I heard a chant that sounded similar to the Amish church hymnals. I had no idea what it was and it was something that I hadn't read about before. I'd hear the call to prayer three times a day. Early morning, late afternoon and at dusk.
It was very comforting to my weary traveling body. I slept like a baby that first night. We were now five hours ahead of the time zone I was used to.
The next morning I was so excited to experience the streets of Marrakech. My family and friends warned me that I can't conquer the souks and cobblestone streets by myself.
After talking with the manager and the owner of the Riad. They confirmed that I'll be ok as long as I'm smart about it. This opened up a whole new world to me. I soon knew my way through the streets and used land marks as directions of where to turn and how to find my way back to what was now my temporary home. I won't deny getting called big lady, big tits, nice eyes, cool hair and a couple more slurs I won't mention. They'd try and have me go down wrong streets and I'd hold up my hand up and they'd know I'm not in the mood for their nonsense. I also liked shopping in the mornings before the streets got busy.
I soon had a fleet of shoes shipped back to the Studio via DHL and some jewelry that was handmade came back in that extra suitcase. Ok I'm the first to admit I'm addicted to the handmade shopping that this amazing city provides. I also got a beautiful rug for our home that I'll always treasure.
After two days of navigating my way around the city I was excited to meet all the people from all over the world that came for the business retreat.
Our days were planned of dining on roof top terraces and the finest dining in Morocco. With classes snuck in between. I learned camera settings, how to edit Lightroom, how to fight the algorithm of Instagram, how to build your brand, how to build your email list, ways to make money off your experiences and the list goes on and on.
When I'd call home and have Sydni apply some of what I'd learned immediately. She'd tell me "Mom your scaring me because you're using words I never heard." She was scared I'd come home bursting off that plane with more crazy ideas and new methods she knew how to apply.
If you're still with me here I'll tell you to travel more and go on that retreat you've always dreamed of doing. I had never dreamt that I'd be at a place like this. And that I could trust my business to be run by my staff for 10 days without me. They did amazing without me.
I'm so thankful for the culture experience and for also having made so many new friends from all over the world.
If this little Amish girl can find her way to Morocco and back so can you!!!
I will share with you soon on how the cultures in Morocco reminded me of the Amish culture I was raise in.