After many years of the nomadic lifestyle, I decided to call Morocco my home. In 2015, I settled in Marrakech, a city that never sleeps, and every day brings me new experiences. Many of you have asked me why Morocco?
My first visit to Morocco was more than ten years ago. I worked as the editor-in-chief of the local culture magazine and website in Lithuania. Instead of the annual Christmas party, our director offered to have a team-building trip to Morocco. We all agreed, of course.
A decade ago, there was so little information about Morocco. There were mostly general boring guide books and articles on the Internet. Our office team decided to have a spontaneous trip and left for Morocco without any plan. The team-building trip was great. Since then, I started my long-lasting love relationship with Morocco.
Even though I had a dream job and life in Lithuania, I wanted to experience different cultures. So I quit everything and moved to Amsterdam. Living in the Netherlands was great. I was a part of the artist residency, where I lived for almost free in exchange to help.
I was also working in a hotel reception part-time. The owner and almost all team members were Moroccans. There were many signs around me saying Morocco was calling me back. For a while, I struggled with my affection for Morocco, trying to figure out how I could settle here. Then, I quit everything in Amsterdam and moved to Morocco. I didn’t choose Morocco; Morocco chose me.
ADAPTATION TO MOROCCO
The beginning was hard. I didn’t speak French, was lost in a completely different culture, and on top, there was an unbearable summer heat. Some days or even weeks in Marrakech were almost +50 C. My biggest mistake was expecting things to work in Morocco as back in Europe. I moved from Western culture to a completely different one, and I had to change my way of thinking.
Only when I accepted Morocco the way it is without wanting to change it, only then did I finally adapt. Moroccans are social, and I only recently realised that this is the source of my never-ending affection for this country.
For Marrakchi people, Medina, the city’s historic ‘old town’, is not for living. Instead, Medina is a place for entertainment, going out, and observing the action in the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square. This square is exotic even for Moroccans exploring it from different towns.
Nothing will prepare you for Marrakech. Chaos, people, sounds, smells, hectic small streets full of traffic, including people, donkeys, scooters, and horses. I love to mingle with locals and visit not tourist places in Medina. Even my first home was in Medina, where I rented a small traditional house.
While living there, I received too much attention. It was a hassle getting home through the busy streets. Kids would play football in the street at all hours, even after midnight.
THE MODERN SIDE
Many travellers think that Marrakech is only the ancient and hectic Medina. I get it; the old town is the most exciting part of any city. However, you can’t paint the complete picture of Marrakech with only Medina. There is so much to discover beyond its walls of it.
For a couple of years, I lived in the Gueliz district, a reminder of the French protectorate in Morocco from 1912-1956. Gueliz was designed and built by French architects, and it has wide boulevards, many chic restaurants and a newly built shopping mall Carré Eden.
In Gueliz, I love exploring the old Art-Deco buildings. I love the blend of modern and ancient history and traditions. However, I feel sad that Gueliz is losing its history. Old Art-Deco villas and public buildings are being slowly demolished for the construction of ugly apartment blocks.
WHAT DO I DO IN MOROCCO?
After moving to Morocco, I eventually discovered so many places to visit. Soon, even my Moroccan friends started asking me for travel advice. Since I worked as a journalist before, I began a blog Blondie in Morocco, writing about my experiences in Morocco from an insider’s perspective.
I started the blog as a hobby without any expectations. After receiving many emails with questions about Morocco, I began to work more on my blog. Back then, only a few bloggers lived here and wrote about their daily life experiences.
I have a BA degree in Art Criticism and history, so art has always played an essential role in my life. For six years, I have been doing freelancing work for the Lithuanian international contemporary art fair ArtVilnius.
The modern cultural life in Marrakech is slowly growing. Last year, the first Contemporary African Art Fair came to Marrakech, and a few new museums opened. I hope Marrakech will have more live music concerts and a theatre soon.
IS IT SAFE?
I have received many questions regarding safety in Marrakech, especially for female travellers. In truth, Morocco is a safe place to visit; and Marrakech is one of the safest cities. My general advice, while travelling, be always double aware of your safety in any country, including Morocco.
I’ve only experienced one crime incident: when my mobile phone was stolen in the flea market of Essaouira. It happened because of my stupidity, leaving the phone in my outside backpack pocket.
DREAMING ABOUT MOROCCO?
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