Dear Advisor Partners,
Have you ever had an event just jog a collection of memories about something? Well a few days ago, Morocco joined the growing list of countries allowing fully vaccinated guests to enter without PCR testing. When I heard the news, after looking for flights, I thought of a number. The number 24 represents many things: hours in a day, a binge worthy tv show , according to numerology, it is the number of harmony and diplomacy, yet, it is also the number of times a day you have to tell your teenager to do their chores. It also represents the number of times I have been to Morocco. Truth be told, the first time I visited, I actually wasn’t as amazed as I was on the following trips. You see, my mother was born in Sudan and having traveled through parts of Sudan, I craved the most authentic of experiences. So of course I went to Morocco searching for just that. Well as they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. So I decided to return and boy, am I glad I did!
Now I should stop and explain that I also disliked my first visit to Colombia and Australia, both destinations I now adore, and the same can be said about Morocco. On the second visit, and each subsequent visit after, the magic began to appear. Whether it was the mountain biking in Asni, the ATV exploration in remote deserts, the coast line in Oualidia, or the marvel of the unknown in Taroudant, something just started calling to me. I remember being out in the remote Eastern Atlas Mountains on one of my earlier visits, before the luxury hotels had opened, and thinking to myself, this is the Morocco I was looking for. I stopped to talk to a local farmer tending to his land which was handed down through four generations. This young man was learning computer science, however his pride was in this land, something he planned to hand down to the generations after him. He was storing his crop in an abandoned kasbah away from the heat, shielding himself away from the heat as well. On a later return, I found myself having lunch in the Agafay desert with the a few guides we work with, one of them being the first female guide in the region, each sharing their indigenous family roots. On that same visit, I fondly remember visiting a local Berber house located in between the Agafay Desert and the High Atlas Mountains. Here I sat with a fellow father, as he shared how his two daughters took such divergent paths. One daughter completed her higher education, while the other was forced out of school by the elders before 5th grade because they believed, against his wishes, that she should not be educated. He explained to me that along with his elder daughter, he saw the value in tourism but to further the younger daughter’s education, her place was in a school. He opened up his house to a few visitors like me, who would hike the trails behind his house, through the olive groves to his donkeys that help process the olive oil we were about to use making our lunch. While the food was amazing, the conversation with the father, the guide, and the land owner shaped the stories that drew me to Morocco. Combine that with exploring the medina in a Russian built WWII motorcycle replica, and you can imagine how much fun can happen in one day! You see it wasn’t the museums or the sights, it was the stories that I missed out on in my first visit.
On my most recent visit, I was just outside Marrakech paragliding. Truth be told, I was there for work, so I called this research and development (just to make my non travel friends jealous). I have been wanting to hang glide in Morocco for some time, and it seems each time it was about to happen, the weather decided to close the door. So when the opportunity to go paragliding came up, I had to say yes, how could I not! The hang gliding remains one of the final items to check off on my adrenalin bucket list. Over time, starting with my second visit onwards, I began falling in love with Morocco, and it all culminated with dinner in my new favorite Indian restaurant in Marrakech, Bombay. The host, a local Moroccan fluent in Hindi, and chef Surender Kumar, hailing from an area not far from my family in India, offering the home made recipes I grew up loving!
A simple event jogged back all these memories. Now let’s go make some new ones!