VILLA ANOUK, ESSOUIRA, MOROCCO | 2016

I can breathe again. 

1498601643298.jpeg

Marrakesh was madness. We were just taking a walk, getting lost on purpose, when a man stopped us and tried to force his directions on us. We tried to remain firm and politely decline his invitation to follow him, but he was too persistent. And when we finally arrived back to the gates of our Riad, he demanded money and scoffed when I gave him 30 dirham. I felt overcome with anger. We didn't ask for his help, and we didn't invite his hustle. I was ready to leave this city. I was tired of being pulled into shops and yelled at for walking away. 

1498601662225.jpeg
1498601683390.jpeg

I had to remind myself to take a deep inhale just now, releasing the emotional charge even as I recount this encounter. Let it go. It's in the past. 

Essouaria. Villa Anouk. This is my present. This is my favorite moment in Morocco. 

I feel like we've entered medieval times, with stone piled walls and castle like buildings. There are donkeys roaming freely and red rocky mountain terrain. 

1498601731556.jpeg

Villa Anouk. Words can't describe how at home I feel here. Safe. Secure. Inspired. 

1498601780617.jpeg
1498601791644.jpeg

The detail, love and care that Anouk put into every inch of this property transported me to a different time. I felt as though I were in a fairytale book, and this, my castle. The food was vibrant, the coffee was strong, and the dessert went straight to my soul. The artistry in the selection of each chair, each doorknob, and each blanket was understated and sophisticated. I could definitely live here. 

1498601810507.jpeg

Anouk and I had similar stories, both moving to Paris and then New York. Except she continued on to make Morocco her home, while I reside in LA. She and I have big plans, our story does not end here. 

To book your stay, and I highly recommend that you do, click HERE.

1498601845285.jpeg

And when you do make the journey to this magical sanctuary, please give Anouk a hug from me, and make sure to ask her for the chocolate cake. 

CHEFCHOUEN, MOROCCO | 2016

We hit the ground running, or driving I guess i should say. As soon as we touched down in Casablanca, we were greeted by Hassan, our driver, and the Mercedes sprinter van which would become home for the next week. We were to spend our first night in the north in a city called, Chefchaouen, or the Blue City. A drive which was meant to take 3 hours ended up taking 8, but if I’ve learned anything from all of my travels it is that the JOURNEY is the DESTINATION. It’s never about where you are going to end up, because that just takes you out of the beauty and wonder of the present moment. 

1498604140640.jpeg

We had planned on having an entire day to explore, but had to squish it all into 2 hours, before our Hamam and dinner, of course. So we dove into the streets of the blue, which eerily reminded me of being in Mykonos just a few months prior. The windy walk streets were each slathered with a slightly different shade of cerulean, periwinkle or sky blue, and were decorated with all kinds of gifts and gags. We strolled around, and ended up in a castle, that overlooked the city. We got the chills as we walked through an old prison, and tingles in our toes as we escalated the steps to the very top of the castle’s tallest tower. 

1498604175419.jpeg

What I really want to share with you all is my experience of the traditional Moroccan Hamam. I was ushered into a stone room by a sweet woman in all black. I laid on a large stone bench, and was hosed down with a hot blast of water. She came to me and with such precision and care, began to scrub my entire body. She took care, cradling my neck to one side, as she scrubbed behind my ears, all the way down until she was tickling between my toes. Once more, she sprayed me down, this time removing layers upon layers of the old me. She proceeded to rub clay into my skin, and now it was my turn to lay and rest. 

I understood her, even though we did not speak the same language. 

By the end, when it was time for our final wash, nearly an hour after steaming, scrubbing, eucalyptus and clay masking, she motioned for me to strip all the way down. It was so freeing, like I was really letting go of that final layer that needed to be washed away. In that moment I let go of shame and fear and embarrassment, and allowed myself to embody the perfection of self. Self love, self care. These are things we often forget, or are made to feel bad about practicing. I urge you to please, LOVE YOURSELF. Remind yourself of how wonderful you are, and that it is more than okay to receive love. I love you. Off to Fes.

1498604248343.jpeg