When Emma asked me to join her to run a styling session on Expedition Morocco she couldn’t have had any idea how long I’d dreamt about Marrakesh. My yes was immediate, impassioned and not cool in any way.
I wasn’t able to join the group for the whole expedition as my little brother had his wedding in the middle of it- but I joined them for a day and a half in the Atlas mountains, then 2 days in the souk. And I am changed.
Some notes/ remembrances.
- David Bowie as the plane lands.
- The feel of hot hot sun warming my whole body, penetrating through to my bones. They seem to sigh in pleasure.
- The dust catching in the back of my throat.
- The colours- sandy roads, buildings in mint and pink, men and women in colourful clothes flapping behind mopeds kicking terracotta dust clouds in the air.
- The contrast as we drive into the mountains of the cooler temperature, lush greenness, roses, mountain view, and quiet of Kasbah Bab Ourika.
- Back in the medina, walking down impossibly small alleys whilst dodging braying donkeys and roaring mopeds passing centimetres away.
- Running a lifestyle styling workshop with props from around the Kasbah. Kid > candy shop.
- Seeing the souk for the first time- a sight I have longed for for many years- and finding that it both met and exceeded my expectations. It bursts with colour at every turn.
- After hours walking round the hot dusty souk, the feel of kicking my sandals off and sinking my feet into the cool plunge pool at The Secret Souk- a true true haven in the middle of Marrakesh, with the sort of decor that made my heart race with pleasure.
- Looking down and seeing chicken heads and animal guts in the gutter.
- The peace of The Beldi country club. Reading Mrs Dalloway on sun loungers around the pool, cold beer bottles speckled with condensation; sinking into the cool swimming pool.
- My last night, after everyone had flown home, walking alone through the souk, as a storm gathered above my head. Feeling both nervous about getting lost and exhilarated at being alone; enjoying the most magical solo dinner in a cafe- a long craved for salad of avocado, cabbage, carrot, nuts and spicy citrussy dressing- whilst the rain lashed outside.
- That thunderstorm. Heralded by the suddenly present wind, whipping the bougainvillea bushes and olive trees into a frenzy; the black clouds looming, then releasing the most magnificent downpour. The storm coincided with the first day of Ramadan and was seen as a great blessing. Men dancing on the streets under the down pour.
- (Now I've announced the news, edited to add) The quiet suspicion that I am carrying a tiny baby in my tummy. Harbouring an exciting secret.
- Sitting in the quiet of the dawn on the roof terrace at Emma’s apartment and witnessing the call to prayer explode over the souk. Then hurrying to dress to catch my taxi to the airport.
These are only the briefest of snapshots and memories but it was truly magical and I long to return, most days.
Emma, who ran the retreat is hosting another 3 night retreats at the end of September/ beginning of October this year. I highly, highly recommend. More details here