Heading into Paradise: drifting in Morocco

I think it’s about time I give an update. My last post was pretty dramatic and emotionally-charged (rightfully so; I was fired after all). I won’t go back and re-read it, and I definitely won’t open it up to the public, but if you haven’t read it, you can know that I didn’t exactly find the event entirely fair, nor considerate, and I was most certainly venting those frustrations.

Since then, I’ve been back in my favourite town of Essaouira. It’s a really beautiful and lovely place, and I have been so happy to meet with old friends, make new ones, and try to collect my life. And I’ve since re-framed my experience as one that is much more healthy and level-headed. And truly, though it’s been disruptive and unstable, this entire experience is going to be richer and better in the end because of this opportunity for change.

I started in a place called Atlantic. It’s been around forever and is always one of the top hostels in town (the former rival of my friend’s wonderful place, but he recently sold it and they have now become one; the old hostel now essentially serving as overflow for the other). But you don’t really come for the beds, the rooms, or really, the facilities in general. You come for the ambiance (which can be rather loud at times, but usually exceptionally chill), and you come for the terrace. The view, especially the sunset, is truly spectacular.


But what you don’t come for (at the moment, anyhow) is a place that’s really well run, or even really run at all. It’s a sort of fly-by-night operation that is only keeping itself together by chance. There’s absolutely no oversight of any kind (though there’s someone who does hold the title of manager, there’s very little actual managing done, aside from collecting money and yelling at the staff). However, after a couple weeks of lounging around, brainstorming new plans, my need for organization got the best of me, and I found myself working at the front desk, trying to implement some sort of system before the busy season was under way.

At first, it was actually so fun. It was like all my years of promo collided with my natural tendency to nurture and provide hospitality. I love taking care of people and giving them the best experience possible. I even practiced my mind-reading: “Who do you think you’re kidding? I know you’re staying another night. Now go have your coffee and bring me some money when you come back downstairs.”  Always with a healthy dose of sass.

I could definitely see myself owning a hostel somewhere someday (with a vegan restaurant/bakery, of course!)

image

Speaking of baked goods: my favourite essaouira breakfast.

And I do really like creating efficiency (to state the extremely obvious). But I slowly realized that unless I was the one to provide the oversight to keep the system running, it was never going to stick. And I was just exhausting myself for nothing! 10-11 hour shifts for the equivalent of less than $10 a day, with no results, except the occasional bonus implication (from said “manager”) that instead of a mathematical error or any kind of mistake on his part, it was I who was just lying or stealing money (obviously). So after 15 days in a row, I reminded myself that I did not need that kind of negative energy in my life, and I moved on.

For a few days, I stayed with a lovely new friend who has an apartment outside the medina. It was so nice, but I somehow find more space in the anonymity of a hostel (that is, before you’re there long enough to become absorbed into the circus. So I moved to a different one for a few more, and then I headed to Paradise Valley, where some friends I made while working have been building a campsite. It’s a bit of a hike to get in, but it’s a really nice space. There’s no power out there, so I don’t have any pictures of the camp itself, the guys, or the charming pack of valley dogs that drift in and out of camp. Though I did manage to grab a couple of the valley itself.

Camping out in the valley was so peaceful. A hike down to the bottom to swim, collect water, and chat with the locals before heading back up to camp (almost always guided by a handful of aforementioned valley dogs) to cook food, play cards/Kyle’s newly crafted chess board, and alternate between having incredibly deep conversations about life and perfecting the art of doing nothing. Pretty much bliss, if you don’t mind sleeping basically on the ground, a healthy fear of scorpions and Cobras, and a constant itching feeling thanks to the dogs and all of their ticks, fleas, and God-knows-what-else.

The best part though was the opportunity to step back, and properly reflect on exactly where I’m at. I mean, I’m still in Morocco (duh), but so much of this experience has been obscured by the stress of trying to keep my head above water, that I haven’t had the time to process all that I’ve taken in in the past 4.5 months. The fact that it’s even been that long and it’s felt only like the blink of an eye says a lot.

Because there’s a lot about this country that I’m slowly grasping (and I know it’s still only scratching the surface). Like the racism between the Arabs and Berber. Or the often criticized, though clearly accepted lack of work ethic of many Moroccans (Western Workaways are welcomed to work 5-6 hour shifts for basically the same pay as a local working the entire day, simply because our work ethic, attention to detail, and organizational capacity is seen as that much higher).

As always, I’ve also noticed a lot about the men. Getting that well integrated into the hostel let me see a lot of what goes on beyond what you can see in a few days, or even weeks. Everything I learned about trying to date over here has been confirmed by these guys; basically, don’t do it. Not if you want it to mean the same thing to him as it does to you. Because at the end of the day, we’re nothing but a ticket out, and there’s always going to be another naïve tourist to show the stars. Though I should probably mention that this time I’m only learning by observation; for once, I haven’t had my heart crushed. I did lose one friend recently, who tried to cross the line, which is a shame, but highly preferable to a full-on messy Moroccan heartbreak.

I would have stayed longer, but now I’m making my way back to Rabat and Casablanca, where I have interviews with two different schools! They both start in September, which will give me the summer to enjoy Morocco, work on my languages, and hopefully get re-settled. Because, God, do I miss my little French press.

3 thoughts on “Heading into Paradise: drifting in Morocco

  1. Lovely views indeed. I’m going to Essaouira soon, only for a day tho. I’m browsing for pics and stories about there and Marrakech. I would love to go to Fez as well but it probably won’t happen on this trip.

    Like

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