The square was buzzing. Sales men everywhere. Screaming. Trying to sell their oranges, tajines, clothes, shoes, fake golden watches. Poor monkeys were forced on shoulders off tourists. Snakes had to dance for a few dirhams. Somewhere on the big square was Cafe de France. I’ve seen it before on this central square of the Medina of Marrakech. Walked by it, but this morning, with the sun burning on my head, I couldn’t find it.
Slowly I walked around the square. Trying to keep on the backside of the market stalls, not to be hassled for some dates, figs or silver tea pots. After half a circle I found the bar back. On the place to the right some acrobats were standing on top of each other. Two people and one kid high. I walked it. A cooling air-conditioning was blowing. It felt like a sudden temperature drop of 15 degrees Celsius. She wasn’t there. It was still a few minutes to two. I walked out again. A guy called me over. Invited me for tea with his friends. I declined. Politely. I preferred to stand. Tall as I am in countries like this it’s easier to stand out and spot me.
Time went by. The sun kept burning. Two o’clock passed. I grinned. Working on retreats in foreign countries for people I have never met before is always exciting. A few emails, sometimes a skype call and an address that’s all I normally have. I booked my own ticket, came out by myself to Morocco and now I was waiting in the middle of an hectic square on somebody I’ve never seen before. I had no phone number, which wouldn’t have mattered anyway, having no means to call myself.
The guy invited me over again. Started to talk to me and guessed my nationality. His first guess was German, the second English, the third American. When I answered I was Dutch he smiled and said: ‘Goedemorgen’ (good morning), in almost clear Dutch.
When I took another look around I saw her walking towards me. She looked like her photo. A lovely, grey haired hippy. We gave each other a hug and walked over too an occupied table. The guy sitting there was going to be our fitness instructor for the week. He had though looking muscles, shining eyes and a happy smile. We introduced and ordered lunch. She asked for a vegetarian tajine, she got lamb with prunes. I ordered a fig tajine. I got lamb with apricots.
Two hours later we were on our way. Angie drove, Greame set next to her. I crawled in the backseat and starred outside. Her I was, in a country I never visited before cruising through the Atlas mountains. Watching the dramatic scenery going from dry dessert to luge forest withing a few miles. Cars and scooters went by. Often with sheep bonded on the back. Ready to be slaughtered for the upcoming festival.
Two hours later Angie parked the Ford to pick up a juicer and yoga mats at a resort she used before. The airco had done it’s best, but we were still melting. While waiting for the owner of the resort the three of us plunged in the pool. An hour later we were on our way again. To Maroc Lodge, the location of this retreat of the 21st Sanctuary Retreats. When I stepped out and looked around I couldn’t believe my eyes. Stunning views, cosy cabins and a pool overlooking the Atlas Mountains.
Late that evening I found myself back in the hamam. The hot steam was suiting my body. I closed my eyes and rested my head against the wall. Here I was, in Africa getting ready to teach another retreat. My third continent after selling my yoga school; the fourth coming up in a month. Surrounded by two beautiful people. Could life be any better?
It even became better. Want to know how? Watch this little video of the retreat.