Morocco holds a kind of mystical allure. You feel the 1000+ year history as you wander through the Medina – the old, walled city. The smell of spices like Ras el hangout – a blend of cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, peppers and turmeric – and incense waft through the air. The magical sounds of the oboe accompany the wily performances of the snake charmers in the square. When I had the chance to visit Marrakesh for a yoga/art retreat I didn’t hesitate. Marrakesh seemed to me like an edgier version of Istanbul. But there is something to being on the edge that I find intriguing. It still feels authentic.
I went with a group of women for a week-long retreat which was more a “week-long eat, drink and socialize, with intermittent spurts of exercise” to burn off all the delicious food and drink that we enjoyed. We were fortunate to have retreat leaders who organized everything, from drivers, to tours of the souk, to restaurant bookings. I highly recommend having this planned in advance. It is still foreign enough and the driving crazy enough, that it is more relaxing to have it all organized in advance.
We stayed at the lovely Peacock Pavilions just outside of Marrakesh. It’s a boutique hotel/guest house run by the beautiful Maryam Montague. It is worth staying here just getting to know Maryam and her family. She is a dynamo with a list of accomplishments that belie her age. The main house is like a museum, furnished with treasures she has gathered throughout her travels and her work as a human rights advocate. The guest houses each have individual rooms, decorated in a unique, Moroccan style. In the mornings we had tea on the terrace before our meditation and yoga in the tent. It was truly a calming experience to sit in the tent and listen to the sound of the birds and the bubbling of the fountains. After our morning yoga we would have fabulous breakfasts al fresco and then either head into town for sightseeing/shopping or have an art workshop under the tent as we chatted and listened to music. A truly magical getaway!
The next retreat is in Bali and promises to be even more fabulous!