Each day for six months has been nothing but new. My only constant has been change. Even traditions–Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—were celebrated in first-ever ways. St. Valentine’s Day 2015 I climbed with friends to a riad rooftop supported by 300-year-old walls. New chums encircled by the snowy Atlas Mountains, we sat sleeveless on a sunny summit above the Marrakech Medina. Good company, fabulous food, pure peace.
My friend, Kate, was our hostess for lunch at Riad Mur Akush which she manages. New to Morocco, too, she moved here from Melbourne. I met her and Maria, the English owner, at an InterNations mixer last fall. Kate had flown from an empty nest and we meet regularly to share stories of our second acts. This time, rather than meeting for dinner at a restaurant in our neighborhood, I asked if we could do lunch at her workplace. I love riads–traditional Moroccan houses or palaces. For privacy, rooms open to interior gardens or courtyards with flowing fountains or tiled pools. Most of the riads serve meals only to guests, so I knew friends would love to spend an afternoon in such a pretty place.
Always about beauty breaks and exploration, I added: “Maybe we could visit other riads, too?”
She loved the idea and made it happen. “We could do a Riad Crawl like the pub crawls in Australia! I’ll speak to our cook and get back with you on a menu.”
And with that, what we hope to make a new tradition began. Since she had a full house for the holiday, she said we’d start small on the roof. Later when too hot to be up there, we’d move downstairs to accommodate more.
I’ll be interviewing Kate soon on her reinvention and our meal—a fusion of Moroccan and Australian cuisine. Some left with plans to book family who visit; some to take a stay-cation there themselves. All needed Cupid’s wings because we were too full to walk home. But we had a second stop, Le Maison Arabe, the oldest and largest riad/boutique hotel in the Medina where Kate had arranged for us a tour and coffee.
We were greeted by their friendly staff, the sounds of fountains draining into the pool, the smell of cedar, and the feel of a 1940s jazz club. Some plan to try their cooking classes and others their spa which, unlike wellness centers in many riads, is open to the public.
Thanks, Kate, Riad Mur Akush, and La Maison Arabe for sharing the love on February 14th with seven newcomers to Marrakech.
Next stop…La Maison Arabe.