As-Salaam-Alaikum

Hi, i'm writing this blog page to share information with all you wanderlust souls out there. Living in Morocco comes with lots of bizarre and unexpected events, which i thought you may enjoy reading about and sharing in the laughter.

My family and I moved to Marrakech 11 years ago from London. The beginning of a huge adventure for us. Choosing which country was right for us to live in had been an extremely long and tiring process. Having made a choice to move to Marrakesh, was in itself a big box ticked. We had two criteria lists, one for our business (opening and running a guesthouse) and one for personal.

Phase two of our journey then began. Setting up home in Morocco, also a non English speaking country with a very different culture to ours. Marrakech is a real melting pot of; languages, tribes, rich, poor, city slickers, country peasants. It sometimes reminds me of that place Luke Skywalker went to, to buy that space ship, with all those different intergalactic aliens. (Any one know what it was called?) After months of beauroctratic paperwork, rendez vous with people who don't turn up and renting from an unpleasant woman for a large amount of money, we bought ourselves a villa. This was not in the plan as we didn't want to tie up our capital in a home. I now realise it is one of the best things we could have done. When you've had a really difficult day here to be able to close the door and relax in your own place really balances you.

Zamzam Riad & Spa was eventually created out of love and we hope you will come and stay and be pampered in our luxury boutique riad.



Friday, December 7, 2007

The magnificent olive harvest

The family went to help Ahmed with his olive harvest. Ahmed has become a great friend and has helped us enormously with organising the riad work and helping us to find materials.

I loved the olive harvest there was a real sense of community and it reminded me of something we so often forget. Just helping each other out. You can get so caught up in the daily grind of life and getting things done. I had a real moment when i stood up and looking around at the beautiful ancient olive trees, I thought this is the lifestyle change i was after and this is the sort of integration with the Moroccan country folk that is so important. It's so easy to swan in here buy a lovely villa eat at lovely restaurants and actually have little to do with the Moroccan culture and way of life.

I recommend olive harvest to everyone who needs to re-generate their energy, feel a sense of harmony and occomplishment and to bond once more with the earth. Enough of the hippy lecture! We also collected the olives off our few old olive trees in the garden. They have gone to be pressed with Ahmeds as they wont press small collections of olives. We have 15 litres of oil from our trees !! organic virgin olive oil at that! another reason to stay at the riad so that you can eat it and cover your body in it after a hammam.

The olive tree basher. Someone hits the branches of the tree as all the olives shoot down onto the ground. They actually quite hurt as they hit you. My daughter spent the whole time shouting Oww!

The younger generation carrying the heavy plastic boxes full of olives. There was a big smile on their faces when they saw my 4 wheel drive, which we loaded up. Saved them carrying them all.
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Creating the Guest House

We had decided to buy land and build a country guesthouse as per our business plan, about 10 double rooms and suites. The dream was to create a holistic retreat and build our house on the same plot. We were going to have an organic vegetable garden and provide a Moroccan Spa.

Land in Marrakech at that time, went mad. Prices going up daily, lots of people fishing but not really wanting to sell. There is also a problem here of title. ie not much land is titled and to buy land without a title is very difficult, unless you have a lot of time on your hands and like a gamble. We looked at more land than you can shake a stick at, drank more mint tea than you can imagine and got totally no where. It can take weeks to even get a price. You may be being shown a piece of land that isn't for sale or has already been sold. After a year of this we said 'that is it!, we are buying a riad!'

I had a total nervous breakdown and couldn't talk to anyone for three days. He then said this doesn't have to be the end....... It wasn't I have now built an Ecological Camp Adounia in the Sahara Desert!