Greetings from sunny Morocco! Actually the sky outside is currently more of a London dishwater grey than the customary electric blue, but I am in no position to complain. Despite the odd overcast day and even occasional rain (at which the Moroccans start whooping and celebrating), it really does seem to be year-round sunshine here.
So, the next chapter of beckymayhem has well and truly begun, as I commence my six month contract working as Yoga Manager/Yoga Instructor for Surf Maroc, a company that specialises in surf holidays and yoga/surf retreats. For a girl whose two favourite things to do are probably surfing and yoga, I feel like I’ve landed on my feet rather, especially given another large part of my job is acting as host and getting to know a hugely diverse range of guests, which well and truly satisfies my incurable nosiness and fascination with the intricacies of we complicated humans… 🙂
As my daily routine settles down, I hope to bring you regular insights into Moroccan life and the life of a yoga teacher/surf bum through the blog. So far, the life is suiting me very well indeed, despite a very long working day during the yoga retreats. I have been launched straight in at the deep end, just as I love it, by joining two back-to-back yoga retreat weeks. During the yoga retreats we teach an early morning yoga class as well as an evening class and day-time hosting/admin, so the day begins groggily at 6am and ends with collapsing straight into bed at around 10:30pm ready to start all over again the next day. In theory there are hours off in the middle of the day for surfing/doing our own yoga practice/ blogging (?!)/ maybe even giving some thai yoga massages, but as I’ve been learning the ropes and getting my head round the job, such free time has been elusive so far, hence my tardiness at posting here.
Anyway, here is an insight into my new daily routine:
My alarm goes off at 6am and I groggily fumble around in my pitch-black room (why don’t we have shutters in the UK – they are awesome!) after a fitful sleep. Moroccans certainly do not have a sense of ‘keeping the noise down for the neighbours’ at night. Our staff apartment lies in the heart of Tarazhout, a small, fairly non-descript fishing village that has grown into a surfer tourist hot-spot due to the prolific surf spots up and down the coast in this area. I am certainly getting to know the sounds of ‘Tarazhout by night’ intimately: children are still playing noisily in the street at 1am, men arrive by motorbike all through the night and rev outside my window, having shouted conversations with each other; an old man sits sadly on the step beneath my room most nights and plays terrible music on a radio to himself; packs of dogs re-establish their pecking order through regular scuffles; and a cacophony of throat clearing reaches me on surround-sound from neighbouring apartments. Then from 5am onwards the early morning shift of the Muezzin’s call to prayer, braying donkeys and cockerels begins. Tranquil it is not. Being a light sleeper, these nocturnal shenanigans are beginning to show beneath my eyes, but sleep is becoming easier as the long hours affect me, so perhaps it’s something I will get used to.
I blearily make my way across the nauseatingly tiled hall (Moroccans love patterned tiles, and like to cram as many different patterns into a room as possible) and into the pongy shower room. The stone placed futilely across the plug hole does little to prevent the odour of sewage oozing into the room, as is the case in all bathrooms here, evidence that the Moroccan sewage system is probably in need of updating. The water is cold, as the plumbing is broken, but that’s actually quite nice, after the sticky humidity of the night.
Myself and the two other yoga teachers, Jenn and Sarah, walk out into the dark morning, negotiating pot holes on our steep street and out onto the main road. We walk past ‘goat bins’ (the stinky public bins that always have goats climbing all over them, rooting out discarded delicacies), ‘dead dog’ (a flattened, crispy dog carcass at the side of the road), run the gauntlet of the local dog pack, hoping they’re not in a boisterous mood, which can result in nips to the back of your thigh, usually field some lecherous comments from local men and finally seek refuge in our clunky Renault Kangoo van.
If I’m driving, we over-rev and bunny-hop our way down the coast road (I’m still getting to grips with left-hand drive and the quirks of the gears), trying to avoid kami-kazi cyclists and moped-riders without lights, many with multiple passengers on one seat. Some deign to use their mobile phone light or a tiny torch to indicate their existence as we near them from behind, but most just trust that Allah will provide. Moroccan pedestrians also seem to have a preference for walking in the middle of the road, which doesn’t help matters. Neither does the Moroccan indifference to road markings – cars drift all over the place as if the drivers are under the illicit influence of alcohol in this ‘dry’ country (*ahem*, excuse me as I politely choke on my tea).
After 15 minutes we arrive in Aourire, the small town where the beautiful yoga villa is located, and I prepare to teach an early morning dynamic yoga class in the rooftop shala with a view overlooking the ocean. Most day I watch the sun rise over the mountains inland. Then follows a multi-course hearty breakfast with the guests (waist-bands expanding already, eek) and then we wave the guests off for a day’s surfing, or join them if we are able. If we stay at the villa, we have office admin to do, or odd-jobs to keep the villa and retreat running smoothly. The guests return around 4pm and we help them out with any requests, then teach an evening class at 6pm as the sun sets over the sea. We share a delicious evening meal with the group and do any more ad hoc bits and bobs then finally leave around 10pm, collapsing into bed around 10:30pm ready to begin again the next day.
I have to sign off now to prepare my evening class tonight, but more details of life out here will follow… 🙂 It definitely feels good being back in the craziness of the African continent. The craziness does not quite match that of Kenya in 1998, where I spent 6 months teaching in a rural school, but craziness nevertheless abounds, from the chaotic souks to the cheeky smiles of the locals. I feel the thrill of the challenge of being out here, deliciously combined with the wonderful feeling of having found my ‘thing’ as I embrace my role as yoga teacher. The joy I get from sharing my love of yoga with students, and working with the same group through the week makes me know for sure that taking the risk of coming out here has paid off already and will yield many, many benefits. I know the experience will teach me loads more about myself as I face new challenges and crystallise my thoughts on my future direction. As always, the fear of stepping out of my comfort zone has soon turned to a thrilling sense of empowerment and excitement, as I sense my boundaries of what I think I can do expanding. Salaam alaikum! 🙂