Monday, January 28, 2008

The Berber Trail - Marrakech Riding

The fabulous Jenni from Sweden has opened a superb stables about 25k out of Marrakech on the Route de Fez. Its a little way out but really worth it for the fabulous scenery. There are a number of different rides, some around amazing mud villages. Jenni picked up perfect Moroccan dialect arabic in a year of being here. The trick, she only spoke to Moroccans originally during the initial build of the club. Her horses are top notch and impeccably trained, even though they are mainly stallions, nice as you don't ever get that out of control feeling, sometimes associated with stallions. Jenni drove the first horses all the way from Sweden with her father. They got stopped at customs with the horses for 10 days! Jayne and i ride with Jenni every Friday morning. At the moment it's very civilised riding as the weather is so wonderful. We drop the kids at school and head off down the Fez Road to her stables. In the summer you have to ride very early morning or late afternoon. A late afternoon ride is very special in the summer as the colours are so stunning - just waiting for her apres bar to open and all will be perfect for a balmy summers night. I'm helping her put together a menu of different rides, lengths and abilities so there will be something for everyone. She's going to be doing longer rides with lunch in a Berber Village included. This is my favourite horse, Esprit. He's like a hunter in the UK. It's also the only time i feel taller than everyone else. Just look at that sky!! Behind me is the paddock. Below you can also see the large school for training, which also includes training horses for stunts in the movies. The stable also has a number of horses in livery.
One of the stable blocks and tack room.

Jenni and Jayne riding out. No they never stop talking!!

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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.



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!