Time flies! Only last month, we were in the warm climate of Morocco and now I am shivering underneath multiple layers of clothing back in the Netherlands. Morocco is my second, no third, home base. I lived there for over two years. It was intense and I’ve seen and learned a lot. Now, I keep returning, both as a tourist and as a family member to all my friends residing there.
This last visit was short and sweet. Usually, I visit Morocco for at least a month and travel around like a true nomad, but this time was different: I went with a purpose, which turned out to be a very good thing.
What was the occasion? My friend and soulmate Marie and I have planned our very first Salt in my Hair’s Longboard & Yoga Retreat, in the picturesque fishing town of Imsouane on the Moroccan coast.
We have teamed up with the lovely surf camp Travel Surf Morocco and have organized surf and yoga lessons, daytrips and prepared delicious meals during the week-long retreat. Also on board was our friend and filmmaker Aljaz Babnik, who was capturing the spirit of Morocco throughout our retreat.
Most of all, though, our guests just wanted to ‘be’ there; to be by themselves, without WiFi and the daily grind of work and family. Me-time without feeling guilty.
Our 11 guests came from all over Europe and their ages varied from 22 to 59 years old. Marvellous diversity! To get to know every one of those beautiful people, we had prepared some questions to ask during the opening ceremony. One of those questions were: “What inspires you? What are your dreams?” Your dreams say a lot about you, plus they stimulate personal interactions and can inspire other people in turn. Very special, how connected one can feel with a ‘stranger’ within minutes!
The seven days have been challenging at times. Every day, we were on our yoga mat at 7.30 am sharp. Some people still looked somewhat bleary, but the intention was set. We started each session with meditation, since one can only really see, hear and feel from a place of silence – the foundation of every yoga practice, but also an intention to take with you during the day. After a couple of sun salutes, everyone was warmed up and could enjoy the beautiful ocean view from our roof terrace.
Especially during our evening sessions, when the sun had already set and we turned the terrace into a place from the Arabian Nights, with candles, music and warm blankets. A perfect setting for some stretching, but also for Yoga Nidra. During a ‘normal’ Yoga Nidra session, each participant closes his or her eyes, but that wasn’t necessary in this case – nothing says Zen like looking at the stars with the sound of waves in the background. ‘Call it magic,’ like Coldplay sings!
Soon, we switched from yoga mats to surfboards. Yes, like I said, surfing was part of our programme too! First, though, we had to match each person to the right surfboard and wetsuit. This could be quite a challenge, but with the help of our surf pro’s, everyone was happy and looking forward to hitting the water.
We could choose between two great surf spots: the magic Bay and the Cathedral. Both beach breaks, both perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike. The Bay is my personal favorite, since you can dance on a wave for 800 meters there! It’s one of the world’s best breaks for longboarding, not to mention it’s the place where Marie and I became best friends.
Sometimes we had a sweet picknick at the beach; our surfboards turned into tables and our towels into chairs.
Between our surf sessions, we had enough time to relax, do a little siesta or for those who had enough energy left a beach clean up. This beach clean up was encouraged by Elsa, one of the owners of Travel Surf Morocco. She is involved in the coastline protection through Surfrider Foundation Maroc. She fights for a better environment for human and nature.
Of course, all this activity makes one famished. The way to a (wo)man’s heart is through the stomach, and that was especially true in the wonderful kitchen of Travel Surf Morocco! We feasted every day, on classic tagines or tasty soups or salads. There’s a unity and connection in sharing a table and enjoying meals together. Now and then, a silence would fall (mainly because the food was so damn delicious!), but mostly there was shared conversation and laughter.
Gosh, we had so much fun! I’m a blessed human being for having been a part of this wonderful week.
Thanks for sharing your stories, thanks for your trust and thanks for being who you are, all of you. I can’t wait until the next retreat, inshallah!