Sunday, January 17, 2010

Skiing in Morocco - The Journey to the Top

We woke up rubbed our eyes stared out the bedroom window and low and behold there were the stunning Atlas Mountains sparkling in the brilliant blue sky back at us. Right I said get your gear on, we are off - we have a special bag full of ski gear just for these moments so that we can jump into our salapets and snow boots and whizz off. Marrakech to Oukaimenden is about 1.5 hours drive of superb scenery. Our daughter used to suffer terribly from motion sickness on the windy mountain road but, this time she seemed fine which was great as it shortened our trip.

There was great excitement in the car as she had a new toboggan for Christmas and was desperate to try it out, I also had new skis and boots so was equally eager to get up there.

This winter has been incredibly warm in Marrakech unlike the rest of Europe. We have been waiting for snow in the mountains and haven't actually had much. It was beautiful up there but very warm and bright - you need serious sun glasses for the glare. In the morning the skiing wasn't much fun as it was complete ice and rather like skiing on rocks. It got hotter and the snow got softer and more enjoyable to ski on. Oh by the way if your going up there to ski, be careful of the second button lift, I thought my arms had come out of their sockets as I was jettisoned into the distance I nearly left my boots behind as I took off!!

It was exhausting walking up this huge hill in deep snow to shoot down it on toboggans but what a view! Spectacular. Friends were up there having a picnic and a glass of wine. It doesn't get much better than this. You see living in Morocco can be really tough but it has its moments that more than make up for the less impressive.
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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!