If I had to pinpoint the age at which I felt like I really transitioned from childhood into the next stage of my life, it would be age 15.
I had my first kiss. I had my first heartbreak. It was the first time I felt like I truly belonged with a group of friends.
And it was the age at which I first saw my favorite movie: Almost Famous.
I remember that I stayed up into the early hours of the morning to finish this film and then, the second it ended, I started it over from the beginning. It was everything. It was my heart in a movie. And it had Penny Lane…a character who quickly became an icon to me; a boho free-spirit who after many learning experiences, fully embraced her own ability to chase her dreams across the world.
Because of Almost Famous, Morocco has been a daydream of mine since the first time I ever saw Penny Lane walk into that airport and buy herself a one-way ticket.
I think our trip to Morocco can be best summed up in one of the afternoons that we spent there.
Our morning was spent touring the gardens of Yves Saint Laurent, after which we decided that we wanted to give the Souk another go. A Souk is a giant market, filled with countless shops that line small alleys in a massive maze that is nearly impossible to navigate. The night before, we had gotten miserably lost – which almost resulted in the four of us having a small meltdown in the middle of the street, in a country none us knew, with a language that none of us knew had to speak. The streets aren’t labeled with street names, which makes it virtually impossible to navigate unless you have a spot-on map or a killer sense of direction.
We had made mental notes about how to get around the Souk the night before, when we were hysterically lost and trying to find our way back to the Riad that we were staying in. We figured we had it down enough to give the Souk another shot – in an attempt to do some shopping for some traditional Moroccan goods before we headed home. The skies that day had been cloudy and threatening of rain, but we decided to give it a go, regardless of the weather.
We made it through probably five shops before the heavens opened up and the rain fell in a way that I have never experience in my life. The four of us wound up sprinting as fast as we could through the Riad, soaked and splashing through puddles in our attempt to navigate our way back. As we ran through the streets (me in a dress!), people laughed and pointed as we passed – humored by the American tourists who didn’t even bother to enter the Souk with an umbrella.
We eventually made it back to the Riad, banging on the door, until the caretaker, Youssef, opened it with a friendly smile on his face. The rest of the afternoon was spent with the four of us lounging in the tiled nooks of the Riad, while our wet clothes hung drying in our rooms.
The Riad, owned by a hip French model and her boyfriend (and their adorable dog, Petite), constantly blasted a playlist music consisting of artists such as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Led Zeppelin – all of which quickly became the soundtrack to our lazy afternoon. We laid around, eating Moroccan cakes and drinking Rose’, while listening to music of the greats. That evening, the owners of the Riad had their chef whip us up a traditional Moroccan meal – complete with a lamb cous cous which was actually out of this world.
Ultimately for me, the beauty of Morocco laid in the fact that it was everything that I needed to be. After almost ten years of daydreaming of the place – it held up to its appeal and transcended everything that I ever expected. The people were incredible, the food was on another a level, my company was everything I ever could have asked for and the number one thing on my bucket list was able to be crossed off (ride a camel in the desert of Morocco).
Beyond that though, our visit to Morocco was a reminder to myself that anything is possible.
Massive dreams actually can come true and the countries you spend years desperate to visit can easily be crossed off your list if you have the courage to just get on the plane and make it happen.
Marrakech, Morocco : I’ll love you forever.