Are you a maroc-o-phile? Do you know someone who is? Feel free to contact us with suggestions of maroc-o-philes you would like to see featured here.

maroc-o-phile: Lynn Sheppard

Although I have this maroc-o-philes section on the website, it would be hard to interview myself… Fortunately wanted to do the job for me. Here is their interview with me, Lynn Sheppard….

Lynn in Essaouira: “The Moroccan lifestyle is pretty laid back”

British expat, Lynn moved to Essaouira more than three years ago to be with her Moroccan partner. Freelance author and travel writer, she particularly enjoys the sun, the beach and the relaxed pace of life in the country.

Lynn in Essaouira: "The Moroccan lifestyle is pretty laid back"

Where are you from, Lynn, and what are you doing nowadays?

A civil servant and diplomat for 13 years, in 2012 I took a voluntary redundancy and moved to Morocco to be with my partner and establish a new rhythm in my life. I wanted to start a business and live in the sun. Over the last 3 and a half years, I have built a business as a published freelance author and travel writer. I also work with local non-profits and as a virtual PA and marketing consultant. In this way, I have built a totally portable new career.
We live in Essaouira, a town on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast which is famous for sardines, kite-surfing and gnaoua music. You can read about my life in Essaouira and pick up plenty of tips for visiting or living there on my blog, “Maroc-o-Phile“.

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maroc-o-phile: Heather Cole

maroc-o-phile Heather Cole

Heather and Peter at Tamdaght

The latest interviewee in the maroc-o-phile series, is UK-based blogger, Heather Cole, a.k.a. The Conversant Traveller. By day, Heather is an outdoor educational specialist, by night she’s a blogger and a part-time traveller. Heather writes the words for Conversant Traveller whilst her hubbie takes the pictures. Together they hope to inspire other independent travellers to see more of the world.

MoP: Hi, Heather. What makes you a maroc-o-phile?

Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to shake Morocco from beneath my skin (and that’s not just the Saharan sand stuck behind my toenails!). I first visited back in 2010, not expecting anything but another enjoyable trip to assign to the memory bank, but to my surprise, when I returned home I couldn’t stop thinking about the overwhelming sensory experience I’d just had. It took less than a week for hubbie and I to decide we’d soon make our very first return visit to a country ever. And we haven’t looked back!

MoP: You’ve been to Morocco 5 times in the last 4 years and you’re planning another trip for 2015. What is it that keeps drawing you back to Morocco?

I could wax lyrical about the friendliest most genuine people we’ve ever encountered, the superb cuisine and the endless landscape photography opportunities. I could enthuse about there always being new and exciting places to discover and the joy of returning to what are quickly becoming ‘old haunts’. Yet the underlying reason is that we feel so relaxed and at home in Morocco. It is one place we can truly unwind. Continue reading

maroc-o-phile: Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki

Photo: Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki

Photo: Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki

Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki, aka MarocMama, is a professional writer and world travelling wife and mum of two boys. She is currently an American expat living in Marrakech, Morocco, exploring all that Morocco has to offer.

MoP: Amanda, what first brought you to Morocco?

The first time I heard about Morocco I was probably 12 years old. The TODAY show (an American morning TV show) did a segment called “Where in the World is Matt Lauer” where everyday for a week he’d turn up somewhere else in the world. One day it was Marrakech. I so vividly remember him standing in Djmaa el Fna with a monkey on his shoulder! Maybe two years later, I saw Malika Oufkir on the Oprah Show talking about Morocco and her book. I read the book and Morocco stuck even deeper. When I finished high school, my dad wanted to take my sister and I somewhere, anywhere we wanted in the world, and we eventually settled on Morocco (at my insistence), even though neither of them really even knew where it was. That was 2004. It was on that trip I met my husband in a very chance encounter (you can read about it here) and never looked back. Continue reading

maroc-o-phile: Emily Burrows

Emily of Wild Morocco in the SaharaEmily Burrows is one half of Wild Morocco, a Berber-British joint venture specialising in private Sahara tours and desert trekking in the region of the Erg Chigaga great dunes in the Iriqui National Park. Wild Morocco brings the best of both cultural backgrounds. Emily first came to Morocco in 2008. Thereafter, she gave up her management career in London, where she had worked in a number of household-name multinationals to move to Morocco and work in a number of tourism roles. Wild Morocco was created with business partner, Yahya in 2011.

MoP: So, Emily, what first brought you to Morocco and why?

The High Atlas mountains – I did an 8-day trek with the Toubkal summit as one of the trek highlights. At that time, I didn’t know much about the mountain range, but I was keen to discover more as it conjured up images of a compelling adventure in a range less busy than the Alps – besides, I love camping!

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maroc-o-phile: Pauline de Villiers Brettell

Pauline de Villiers Brettell

Pauline de Villiers Brettellphoto credit: Pauline de Villiers Brettell

is a freelance writer, interior designer and stylist from South Africa who spends an increasing amount of her time on Africa’s most north-western tip at Assilah, near Tangiers. She is the author and curator of the tea in tangiers blog. A lover of textiles, design and colour, she is an an avid poster on instagram and pinner on Pinterest.

MoP: Pauline, what brought you to Morocco and why?

My first trip was many years ago – 18 to be precise and I was heavily pregnant with my eldest daughter. It was a work trip so was a whirlwind affair of photo shoots and interviews, but I knew that one day I had to bring my husband to Marrakech’s Jmaa el Fna! Several years later we returned with 2 children in tow and had a memorable family holiday that ended up with us making an offer on some land just outside of Assilah. We now return as often as possible with a view to eventually making it home. Continue reading

maroc-o-phile: Mandy Sinclair

Mandy and maroc-o-phile at the Maison de la Photographie

Mandy and me at the Maison de la Photographie

Canadian maroc-o-phile Mandy Sinclair is Marrakech-based blogger MandyinMorocco. She came to Morocco for the first time on holiday and promptly went back to Canada, sold her stuff and came back to live. She has now lived in Morocco for 4 years and blogs about her life on Why Morocco? A social media fanatic and PR expert, Mandy has just set up her own communications agency and Marrakech food tours.

MoP: Mandy, what first brought you to Morocco and why?

After watching the film Hideous Kinky in 1999 while in Australia, I knew I had to travel to Morocco.  So I arrived in June 2010 for a three-week holiday. Within four days, in Fes, I knew I was going to come back for a longer-term stay. I just didn’t think that I would still be here nearly four years later.

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maroc-o-phile: Shadiya Chaib

maroc-o-phile Shadiya Chaib

photo: Shadiya Chaib

The latest in the maroc-o-phile interviews series is a special one, with Shadiya Chaib, a young woman from Australia with a special connection to both Morocco and Scotland. Read about her incredible story of bravery in Edinburgh and her love of Morocco – in particular – Essaouira.

MoP: Shadiya, what is your connection to Morocco?

My dad is from Marrakesh. My mum met him when she was 25, backpacking around Europe and Morocco. They met when he offered her and two fellow travellers a place to stay and a home-cooked meal. After a week, the two others left and my mum stayed. She lived with my dad for 4 months in Morocco, and they decided to get married. My mum left to go back to Australia, and after 12 months of sorting out visas, my dad moved over to Australia.  I finally got the chance to see some of Morocco with my dad in 2012: he flew over from Australia and met me in Marrakesh. It was so nice to see the country through his eyes; it made me understand a lot more about who he is. I also got to meet my family for the first time, a very overwhelming experience, I couldn’t even tell you how many family members there are, a lot!

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maroc-o-phile: Shona Lines

On the terrace at Riad Shaden
On the terrace at Riad Shaden (© Shona Lines)

Riad-owner, Shona Lines, is a civil servant from Scotland who is already on her second guest house in Marrakech. In an authentic Moroccan neighbourhood of the medina, Riad Shaden offers a tranquil oasis from which to plan your exploration of the city and of Morocco. Riad Shaden’s lovely staff are happy to help you – they are the friendliest and most helpful in town. Shona is offering all maroc-o-phile readers a complementary dinner when they book at Riad Shaden*, so don’t forget to mention you saw her interview here!

MoP: Shona, what first brought you to Morocco and why?

I first visited Morocco over 25 years ago, and completely fell in love with it. I returned many times over the years –travelling extensively around the whole of Morocco, but always being drawn back to Marrakech, until I finally took the plunge and bought my first riad in 2007.

MoP: You’ve been a maroc-o-phile for many years, then. What is it that keeps drawing you back?

I love so many things about Morocco but I especially love the people, and we have a lot of Moroccan friends, who have welcomed us into their families. I have always avoided the ex-pats, as to me the whole point of being in Morocco is about having Moroccan friends.

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maroc-o-phile: Marlène Pauly

image: Marlene Pauly

image: Marlene Pauly

The next maroc-o-phile in this series is Marlène Pauly, a Belgian architect and designer now based in Essaouira. With her partner, Peter, she runs property search, interior design and architecture services through Mogador Home Resort and exports fair trade Moroccan handicrafts and interior decoration products through Souk Morocco. If you would like to share their Mogador lifestyle on a buying trip or a holiday, they have an apartment for rent in Essaouira.

MoP: Marlène, what first brought you to Morocco and why?
oh la, la! At first, it seemed a coincidence. But when I thought about it, Morocco and the Islamic culture have always been intriguing me. As an architect I was impressed by the beauty of the old Medina houses, the technical skills and the craftsmanship you can find here. So probably it was something that was somehow meant to be and it was only waiting for me to be ready. Continue reading

maroc-o-phile: Max Lawrence

Max Lawrence

Max Lawrence

Introducing…. Max Lawrence…. maroc-o-phile

For the first in a new series of interviews with maroc-o-philes, I had the opportunity to interview Max Lawrence. His company, Lawrence of Morocco is the latest in a long line of family businesses focused on Morocco and is a Morocco specialist tour operator, a film, TV and photo-shoot production company and an event agency.

Max and his father, Chris, share two generations of passion for this wonderful country and have come a long way since Chris drove in 1966, hot on the heels of the hippes, in a Fiat 500 from London to the Atlas mountains to research skiing holidays. More than 50 years later, their businesses have come and gone and their interests have changed, but their love for Morocco has never ebbed.

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