Thanks to my work on multicultural diversity and built heritage with the High Atlas Foundation, I was selected as a participant in a documentary about Christians, Jews, Muslims in Essaouira, city of peaceful cohabitation. The documentary (in French and Arabic) follows 3 Essaouira residents in their daily lives, each of a different cultural/religious heritage, representing the three main groups which historically and still today cohabit peacefully in the town. The documentary was shown on Al Jazeera in February 2017.
Avid followers of this blog will know that my Swiri husband and I now have a baby and I am currently in Essaouira with him (baby not hubby) for the second time. I don’t plan to get into mummy blogging, but I thought some parents might find it useful if I shared my top tips for travelling with baby in Essaouira. Moroccans love kids and your baby will be hugged, kissed and generally entertained everywhere you go. However, there are very few family friendly facilities. Some canny packing will help you make your trip with your previous little one as trouble-free as possible. Continue reading
Keen followers of maroc-o-phile.com will know that I haven’t been living in Essaouira full-time for a while now. I have been fortunate to be there twice this year already and things are a-changing, albeit at a slow, sleepy Swiri pace… Here’s a round up of what’s new in Essaouira for 2016. Continue reading
Although I have this maroc-o-philes section on the website, it would be hard to interview myself… Fortunately expat.com 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.
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“.
The more observant maroc-o-phile readers will have noticed that I haven’t been posting much on the blog lately. Although I didn’t spend so much time in Essaouira last year, 2015 was quite an eventful year for me and I have a lot to be grateful for.
A few years ago, I met a young artist at Dar Souiri, Essaouira’s cultural centre, who explained to me the concept of “el hamdudlilah” (often shortened to “hamdud’lah”). “Allah phrases” as I call them, such as this, are key in an Islamic society like as Morocco. El hamdudlilah literally means “thanks be to God”, or a more secular expression might be “thank goodness,” and it peppers every conversation between Moroccans. The automatic way in which Moroccans use this phrase, I believe, demonstrates their innate gratitude. They don’t just use it to be grateful for exceptional good fortune; it is used as a reminder of those less fortunate than themselves. In many instances, a better translation would be “thank goodness, it could be worse”. So, when enquiringly of someone’s health, they will alway reply “hamdud’lah,” no matter how they are feeling, and even when disaster has struck, a Moroccan would express gratitude that the situation wasn’t even more disastrous. Continue reading
There are plenty of spas and hammams where you can get a massage in Essaouira, but if you are looking for something more specific from a trained and experienced massage therapist, try Massimo. He practices several massage techniques, including: Shiatsu, Thai-Yoga, Watsu, Swedish, Californian, Lomi Lomi, Craniosacral, Deep Tissue and Reiki. Massimo has over 12 years of experience as a professional and practices the art of touch therapy using as much his considerable knowledge as through listening and intuition.
You can contact Massimo by email or by phone +212 (0)6 39 61 23 35
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
Many non-Moroccan nationals ask me how to get permanent residency in Morocco.
First things first: unless you are recruited by a company in Morocco to work there, you cannot get anything more permanent than a 3 month tourist visa from outside the country.
Once in Morocco, you need to exit the country and renew your tourist visa every 90 days. Depending on the vagaries of the local police station, you should be able to extend it (once, for another 3 months) or apply for residency. A residency card (carte de séjour) is normally granted for the first time for one year. It is a bit of a paper chase (you’ll need police records from both your home country and Rabat, for example) and it has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that you don’t need to leave the country every 3 months. You should look into the financial, tax, pension, inheritance, residency, etc implications for your nationality.
You can typically apply for residency under the following conditions:
- you own property in Morocco and can prove enough income to support yourself;
- you are married to a Moroccan, or
- you have set up a business or find employment in Morocco to support yourself.
If you have question related to this topic, please also read my post on expat life in Essaouira. If you are planning a move to Essaouira, you may also find it useful to join the Essaouira Expats and Friends Facebook group – there are lots of people there who have expat experience.
Thinking of moving to Essaouira? Wondering what Morocco is like for your holiday or for a longer stay? If you would like to know more about expat life in Essaouira, check out my interview on expatfinder.com
Emily 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!