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.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marrakech to the Sahara Desert - My journey

We left Marrakech across the Atlas Mountains with heavy rain looming.  We were tired and thought we would never leave Marrakech everyone wanted a piece of us as it was the night before Eid.  

Having driven throughout the Atlas Mountains past an interesting Alpine hunting ground we got stuck in a village.  Cars at loggerheads as they would not make way for a tourist bus trying to get though.  As is the way with Moroccan traffic.  We decided to park up and get lunch.  We ambled towards a smoking bbq cafe full of the hubbub of lunch and became smoked ourselves as the wind changed and we ate our tagine and chips with smoke pouring over us.  I quite like being smoked out as it reminds me of African fires and my childhood in Nigeria.

Into Ourzazate a town which many people are rude about but I quite like and onwards towards the Dra Valley to Agdz, town of the old Kasbah's and beginning of the Dra.  We came over the hill with high spirits knowing that in less than an hour we would be at our cosy guesthouse for dinner when we were confronted with about 300 cars immobile.  We had no ideas what had happened but they soon told us there had been a flash flood due to the rain volume in the mountains and the two bridges, one after the other had been washed out and we couldn't pass.

Very swollen river but beautiful rainbows.  Uma and I were excited at the adventure and as I kept telling Marcus we wouldn't be on an adventure if these exciting happenings didn't cross our path.  We waited 3 hours and then in the dark we were directed slowly across the charging river to the other side.  The journey from Marrakech to Agdz had taken 10 hours!! but this is not normal.  Uma and I wined and dined and Marcus fell into bed with a migraine.

Through the Dra Valley the scenery was spectacular and I started to feel that I was leaving Morocco and entering Africa.  

Along the road on the way to Mhamid the last town before the desert we saw these amazing v's made from reed.  They are to stop the desert sand taking over the town and keep it in the Sahara

Camels in Mhamid a charming Desert town full of Berber Nomads and a mix of African's from Mali and other parts.

A photo of the gorgeous Dra Valley on the way to Mhamid.

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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!