A Year in Morocco

Yeah I used a stock photo. So?

December 15th, 2010:  I packed my bags in the morning and prepared to leave London on the morning train to the airport. I'd been traveling from Los Angeles to Kenosha to Chicago to Dublin to London and this part of my trip was almost over. Not only was I leaving these places, I was also leaving western life behind.

I didn't really know what to expect when I boarded that plane. After I found my seat, I sat alone with my right shoulder leaning against the cold airplane window. I had a lot on my mind-- my family, my friends I'd left in so many places, and the new life I was about to begin. The last few days in London was full of chaos and charisma, trains and traffic. As fun as my travel blur had been, I was ready for some peace and quiet. Just as the plane took off, the sun was beginning to set. I watched out the window as we lifted above the cloud cover and it felt as if I was floating into an orange glow of warmth. The rays of the sun seemed to reach out and hug the plane. For some reason everything felt like it was going to be ok.

The first few months in Morocco revealed so many new things to me. It felt like a dream come true as I took each day in stride, unprepared for what was ahead of me. I traveled the roller coaster of roads through the depths of the countryside, into the mountains, through the modern capital city, small villages, beach towns, campsites, ocean-view cliffs, and back to Agadir again. I didn't really know what to expect before I came here and Moroco had its way of showing itself to me one day at a time.

The African coast is so beatiful, isn't it?

I eventually settled into my beach house in Tamraght and the pages of my life book turned quickly. Each day was different and the friends I had made earlier played a really important role in my life. There are a few people that helped me with their words, wisdom, insight and philosophies that really meant so much to me. There's one person in particular who really had a big impact on me. He used to talk about everything with me and his words stuck in my head. One day he told me to be positive always and rely on God. We sat in his truck one day and he said to me, "You just have to chase the Light." I never forgot that and it's been a big theme of my life since then.

Soon after I met an incredible banana cupcake gypsy lady named Cindy and she moved in with me for 2 months. Our adventures were at God's perfect timing and we both helped eachother in different ways. She needed me at the exact time I needed her. If you want to see what I mean, check out my post called Cindy-bindy .

Ramadan was just around the corner by the time Cindy headed to Spain and I was preparing for a new spiritual adventure. Fasting for 30 days straight was something new for me but I was ready for it. The whole month of August was such an amazing experience. Each day I would wake up around 4:00 am and eat a huge breakfast. Then afterwards I would pray and go back to sleep. When you fast, you can't eat or drink ANYTHING (no gum, no water, no nada) and you break the fast at sunset which is around 7:30pm. The days during that month were spent learning more about Islam, reading the entire Quran twice, and cooking the big dinner to break the fast (without tasting anything--just eyeballing everything). After dinner, everyone would go to the mosque for the extra evening prayers and sometimes we'd be standing in prayer for over 2 1/2 hours. It was incredible to feel the way I did. Here I was in the Africa all alone, yet I felt like I totally belonged here. The unity I feel when I'm at the mosque is like the glue that binds me to my faith. I'm so thankful that I've been able to develop in the surrounding that I'm in.

After Ramadan was over, Mohamed proposed to me. Ever since then, life has been a whirlwind. We've done so much together, learned so much about eachother, and traveled in between also. I've spent the last few months teaching him how to speak English and he's spent the last few months teaching me about Islam. He is truly a blessing in my life and I am so happy he found me. 

You know, when I came here I didn't really have a plan. But God did. He knew exactly what I'd be doing and how I'd live, survive, and make my way in this beautiful country. I'm now an official resident here and it feels really good to be here. I'm so happy I trusted my gut instincts and decided to pack everything up and just go. There's no way I can describe how empowering and valuable it is do just do your own thing. I really really really encourage anyone reading this to take a chance on whatever it is that you're thinking about. Is there something that's ALWAYS on your mind? Then do it. Seriously, why wait? What are you scared of? Just take the risk and go with it. You won't be disappointed. And even if what you want doesn't work out...you'll still have fun along your way. The people you'll meet will inspire you in a way you can never imagine or plan for. 

Big props to my girl Haydee who packed everything up from Beverly Hills and moved to Costa Rica last month. Now she's chillin' in a dope loft with a hammock on her balcony overlooking giant fields of palm trees. A year ago in LA at my going away party, she thought I was nuts for moving to Morocco alone...now look at her. :)  And to my friend Jen Le: it's time for you to move to Italy. The photography industry is waiting for a bubbly American like you to get it where you fit in. There are too many opportunities that you're missing out on every day. Set your plan in motion. Don't just talk about it, DO IT! 

See what happens when you take a chance?

I have so many people to thank for my sanity and my survival. First of course, are my mom and dad. Without their constant support, I'm sure I'd be a train wreck. (Dina Lohan: take note). To all my friends who email me to tell me that I'm an inspiration, thank you. People don't really realize how a simple little email can make someone's day. To all the strangers that I've never met that have stumbled upon this blog, thank you for all of your kind comments and emails. I really appreciate it. 

To everyone that's never met me:  Can you add a comment and tell me how you found this blog? I mean...I have page hits from over 100 countries so I'd love to know how you've all found me! :D

In conclusion, a year is a long time and a short time all at once. I'm very happy where I'm at both physically, mentally, and spiritually and a lot of it has to do with being here in lovely Agadir. I really miss all my family and friends so hurry up and book a plane ticket to come see me! I love you all!

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Jenle said...

If I could, I'd leave t o d a y. There is seriously nothing here for me to stay for. Try as I have, and waited as I've done for so long, all signs point to the nearest airport. I practically ache for it. Thanks for thinking of me!! xo!

The Loerzels said...

Happy Anniversary!

Heather said...

From one Wisconsin-ite to another, congrats on your year-iversary. It sounds like you are having a fantastic experience , and I hope it keeps getting better!

Anonymous said...

love you gurl! so happy for you and me!! now we just need to figure out how to meet up somewhere and talk story. xx-haydee

Anonymous said...

I forgot how I stumbled across your blog. I think a link from another blogger even though I'm not a blogger, I read them.

I love reading your stories and I love the way you write. Congrats on your marriage, sounds like you found a wonderful man, Mashallah! It's nice to have good men in our lives, Alhumduliah!

I'm from the midwest as well (MN) so we didn't grow up far apart. I have been married for 5 years to an egyptian man.

Please continue blogging because I love reading, Inshallah! Good luck to you & may Allah bless you & your hubby. xoxo Ayan

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom,

Congrats on making it this far---both in terms of location and spiritual intonation.

Yes, we need to conquer fears and GO to where we feel called. Very cool that your friend made the leap to Costa Rica. Love the hammock. We don't get the hammock without the leap of faith.

I do want to correct you about "he found me". Ummmm...you were not a damsel in distress who needed rescuing (though a previous post might lead us to think so). You were a GIFT FROM GOD and so was he :) You found each other! Yep, I like that better. You are both blessings to each other. Alhumdulillah.

My husband used to try the phrase his tourist-saavy bro would say to the tourists, "I'm a lucky man!" But I taught him "I'm a blessed man." He is! And I'm a blessed woman.

For teaching English...maybe I should write a blog posting on tips to teach your foreign-born hub how to speak English. Knowing English and teaching English are two different things.

Lastly...I found your blog the same way I find most blogs: google something which I want as an image and God points the way to the blogs I should read. Works for me! :) Not sure what it was I googled. I can find out if you really want to know.

Love and Light!

√Člisabeth Strout said...

Assalamo 3alaykom,

A French Canadian convert friend of mine shared this blog on her Facebook wall, and I checked it out! I'm also from French Canada, spent 8 yrs in America, and moved to Egypt one year ago to marry an Egyptian, so it's fascinating to read your blog, having been through a similar process in the same time frame. Love your writing - you've got a new follower from Egypt! Now, to go try out your soup recipe...

Jaime Brown said...

walaikum salaam Elisabith,

Thanks for checking out my blog! Who is your friend and what part of America were you living in?

I also have a friend who has a blog from Egypt. Check it out http://www.afterhardship.blogspot.com

If you like this blog, you can "LIKE" my page on facebook and it will update you everytime I post a new one :)

click here and then LIKE it:

Thanks for stopping by my page! :)

Anonymous said...

You are really a talented writer!
I do recognise a lot in the way you talk about the moroccons and their way of life. It gives me a smile in my stomach lol. keep us posted!

Love from Belgium!