Visiting our wonderful and dear friends Omar and Kenza, the dynamic duo behind Marrakesh Organics, we enjoyed a magical stay on their organic permaculture farm. Returning to their home, which is a Moroccan oasis just outside the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, was even more wonderful than we had imagined.
Omar and Kenza are extraordinary people with fascinating upbringings and life stories. They’re true humanitarians and stewards of the land in Morocco. They’re devoting their lives to educating others on how to grow their own food and develop sustainable farming practices as well as preserve the art of ancient building skills. And they’re true kindred spirits — they love and care about much of what we love and care about. In the end, no matter what country we’re from, we all want the same things in life and we’re more alike than different.
During our visit, we had the pleasure of meeting two of Omar’s and Kenza’s friends with whom we got to share a couple of meals. One was a permaculture expert who spends a lot of time in India heading an organization devoted to helping farmers develop sustainable farming practices, especially women farmers. The other friend is working on his PhD and doing interesting research on ancient cultivation practices around sustainable farming. The six of us talked for hours as we shared a delicious dinner prepared by Kenza. We had fascinating discussions about many topics revolving around travel, food, nutrition and farming. It was our nirvana.
During our last meal at the farm with Omar and Kenza, the four of us got into a profound conversation about living meaningful lives with a sense of purpose, fulfillment and belonging. We even talked about what we all might do someday when we "retire." They said they might travel like us; we said we might farm like them.
We actually like the idea of establishing a permanent home, growing food, building a nest with a kitchen full of wonderful cooking stuff and a pantry full of grains, beans, nuts and seeds as we listen to our sauerkraut gurgling next to our sourdough starter. We've encountered a hundred places that would be ideal for permanent living.
There's just one problem: To embrace any one place is to give up every other place. And that we don't want to do. Our love for travel is stronger and far more powerful than anything else.
Of course, it would be nice have it all. Yes, we lived "residentially" in Sonoma country for two years -- one year surrounded by vineyards and olive groves and the other at an organic farm. We still crave gardening and homesteading.
But we also feel deeply compelled to keep moving, exploring and discovering.
Life is about living today. Yes, plan for tomorrow but live your best life today. The past is a memory; the future mere anticipation. The present moment is all we have and all we’ll ever have. Life is too short to not live each day to the fullest. And for us, living to the fullest means to keep doing what we’re doing, which means to travel and explore other cultures and keep meeting awesome people like Omar and Kenza.
For now, our motto continues to be: The world is too big to stay in one place. It’s a conviction driven by our desire to belong everywhere and settle nowhere.
Perhaps it’s because nothing makes us happier or brings us more joy than freely exploring this beautiful planet. Or maybe it’s because our lifestyle during these past 13 years has not only been a dream come true but also because it’s been deeply fulfilling and rewarding giving us a sense belonging everywhere we happen to be.
We're in Morocco now. We feel at home here, too. This country is mesmerizing. We're constantly encountering artisans whose skills come down to them from many generations -- maybe a thousand years back. They handcraft their goods with the same tools and in the same way their ancestors did. To witness these crafts in Morocco's ancient medinas is like traveling through time.
We're also enthralled by the love and knowledge that people like Omar and Kenza bring to everything they do. Paradoxically, to restore heritage and revive ancient skills and wisdom -- to embrace tradition -- takes boundless creativity and a spirit of innovation as well as resilience and passion. (For example, when building their guest houses and walls, they make their own bricks from scratch -- not easy!)
What a joy to take farm-grown, home-made, traditional meals with such wonderful people we're so lucky to call friends.
Our palates rejoice in the intricate flavors and deliciousness of beautiful traditional lamb and barley couscous Kenza prepared -- part of their Friday tradition. We enjoyed this meal out of a communal bowl on their beautiful terrace overlooking their hundreds of olive trees while enjoying the sounds of birds singing all around us.
Saying goodbye is always hard. And talking about it made Kenza and me shed a few tears. And for me, those tears and that tender moment together is the greatest gift of love and friendship and something I cherish with all my heart, even when we’re thousands of miles apart and oceans away.
Experiencing traditional culture lovingly and skillfully prepared on a farm bursting with life in the embrace of such beautiful people nourishes our souls and fills us with profound gratitude and boundless joy.
These are the moments that make the fabric from which the our Gastronomad Experiences are made. We want you and others to have, see, feel, touch, savor and cherish the world that Mike and I have had the privilege of experiencing in our 13 years of Gastronomad exploration. And I’m beyond grateful to Kenza and Omar for also opening their farm doors to, and sharing their farm table with, our Gastronomads during The Morocco Experience. - Amira