As you read this, my wife, my seven month old daughter and I are somewhere between Sefrou, Morocco and Istanbul, Turkey. We’re not moving from one place to another – well, literally we are, but I mean in terms of moving house- but at the same time, we aren’t exactly staying either.
In 2010, I tried to move my wife to Turkey, but learned that you can take the girl out of Morocco but you can’t take Morocco out of the girl. She was excited to travel and I made it clear when we first started that odd thing that you can only call courtship in a relationship with a Muslim woman, that I wasn’t a first class traveler, I liked to travel rough, and that we wouldn’t be living high on the hog like some Bahrain or Lebanon dream travel show. One thing I’ve learned about my wife though, I can talk for hours and say the same thing five thousand times, but she only hears what she wants – it’s not a language or a cultural issue, I think it’s a male-female issue. In any event, Turkey wasn’t what she’d expected or wanted and she couldn’t wait to get back to Morocco.
When we learned she was pregnant with our daughter, she jumped at the chance to leave and frankly, I didn’t stop her even though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about coming back to medium sized Moroccan town life. To be fair, it was her first time living abroad though, so the culture shock was at a pretty high level.
Once back in Morocco, she began to see just how good things had actually been in Turkey and to my surprise to miss it – pine for it even. And as for me- living in a small Moroccan town is a fate slightly above hell for me. Just slightly, but it is nice for my wife to be near her family and they do often help with taking care of the baby or other things – but to be completely honest – if it weren’t for my wife, this is just about the last place I would choose to live. There are an infinite number of possibilities that would suit me better.
Like pretty much anywhere in Turkey or even anywhere else in Morocco. Don’t misunderstand me – Sefrou has it’s charms. The medina is small but interesting, the cascade nearby is very nice, there are many small trips you can take to nice places, and you can take walks in the hills and observe Berber shepherd life in action – in fact, if I owned a piece of land and a high walled villa, I might even be happy here – but I don’t. Not yet anyway.
So, here we go again – only this time there are a few differences. First of all, we’re bringing our infant daughter with us. We’ve taken her to Fez and Casablanca by train and by car, but this will be our first trip out of Morocco as a family and our first time flying with an infant. it should be interesting. Also, I’ve decided that I don’t want to go through the mayhem of finding a new place to live if (actually, I should say when) we return to Morocco – because I’ve learned enough to know that you can’t take a Moroccan girl from her family unless you take her so far away she can’t get back and then ignore her crying. So, this time, I’m paying the rent for the first three months, bought the return tickets for three months, and have paid the utilities for three months. Whether we find a house in Turkey or not, we have one in Morocco.
Since we have the house in Morocco, I decided to use AirBnB and Roomorama to rent the house out as a vacation rental. It’s not like there are a lot of people who come to Sefrou, but if they do, there aren’t really any places to stay – so maybe I can recomp the rent and utilities by doing this. This of course led to another issue – someone needs to be there to hand the guests the keys, look after the house, clean it after guests go, etc. – Well, no problem, because my wife’s family is here – (although I have to say that I am not 100% confident they will do it the way I’ve asked – and worst case scenario, it will become the vacation rental for her father, mother, brothers, their wives, cousins, the sheep, and the neighbors – after all, our apartment is nice, clean and modern and Moroccans love inviting their relatives…so, when I hand over the keys and a payment for potentially taking care of things, there is no certainty how things will go.)
Which leads to another point – I nearly had to murder my wife to get her to understand that she needed to put away things she didn’t want strangers to potentially break or even take. She said “But no one wants my wedding dress or all of my clothes,” and “No one would take my jewelry” and while I appreciate her optimism – I think it is far better to be safe than sorry and so finally convinced her to put her non-valuables in the locking cupboard and store her valuables at her mom’s house. The other hard part was communicating to her and (harder) to her sister exactly how the house needs to be kept since they don’t necessarily understand what people from Western countries expect and need in a vacation rental. In any event, if you are coming to Morocco and want to stay in our little place (or are just curious to see it) here are the links.
I’m crossing my fingers on that one.
Another small matter of stress is packing. We aren’t moving so we have a 20 kg baggage allowance and the baby doesn’t get a baggage allowance so we can’t take everything and the kitchen sink, but my wife has already bought Moroccan supplies to tide her over while we are away – couscous (which I’ve assured her is available in Turkey), green tea (which is also available), a couscous pot, olive oil, olives (both of which are not only available but cheap and delicious in Turkey) and henna (also available in Turkey). I vetoed the tajine outright and am going to veto a few other things because otherwise the baby doesn’t get any clothes. Fortunately, I had a trip to Turkey last month and left my clothes there when I returned because I knew this would happen – still there is packing drama coming for certain (as I write this anyway – as you read it, the storm has already passed).
It’s no easy thing traveling with a family – imagine how hard it would be if I told her that I only have housing arranged for the first month? After that we are on our own as we become a vagabond family and I don’t have any idea where we will be going or what we will be doing…lucky for me, she doesn’t read my books or my blog……