Marrakech Local

This is a special LOVE edition of VivianSwiftBlog today because it was NINE YEARS ago today that Top Cat and I said I DO.


It was midnight in Las Vegas and Blue Suede Jumpsuit Elvis married us husband and wife. If I had known then what I know now, I would have asked Top Cat to marry me on our second date.

Little did I know, nine years ago, that on my ninth wedding anniversary I’d be blogging about my trip to Tameslouht, Morocco…life is strange.

Tameslouht, according to people who have luxury villas to rent, is a village of extraordinary serenity  just 20km from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.


Professional PR photo.

With views of the majestic Atlas mountains, Tameslouht is a place to refresh the soul and contemplate life’s magnificence whilst gazing upon a killer sunset.


Another professional PR photo.

Blah blah blah…


Yet another professional PR photo.

…and more blah blah blah plus Rin Tin Tin:


This is the weirdest professional PR photo of them all.

Tameslouht just might be all that and a box of Cracker Jack, but the day I went there (May 16, 2013) there was nary a ray of golden sunshine in sight:


It was cool and rainy and the village looked to be deserted:


This is my perfect May 16 place to be because May 16 is the day on which I, every year since 1975, throw myself a Pity Party.  Everybody should have one day a year  that they devote to a bout of constructive self-loathing and mine is May 16. May 16, 1975 is the day that I left America for my first solo hitch hiking journey in France; I was gone for four months and I was the happiest I’d ever been in all my previous 19 years of life. And every May 16 since then, if I am not on some wonderful, strange, life-altering journey on that day, then I throw myself a Pity Party and wonder why the hell aren’t I on some wonderful, strange, life-altering journey for chrissake.

This year on May 16 I was in Tameslouht. Tameslouht, dear readers, is not a beautiful village. But it beats the crap out of being on Long Island (on May 16) so I was only half-pitiful this year.


Let’s go look at some doors in Tameslouht seeing as how there is not a whole lot else to do in Tameslouht…


…whose name I wish I knew the meaning of because that would be the perfect thing to put here right now.


By the way, “Tameslouht” is pronounced exactly how it’s spelled.


Having seen a fair amount of Tameslouht, I would say that Tameslouht looks very much like itself:


And I say that because this (see below)  is the part of Tameslouht…


…that reminds some people of Persia…


…namely the good people at Disney who made the 2010 movie Prince of Persia:


The movie was based on a video game of the same name.


That’s Tameslouht in the background!

No wonder it flopped. I mean, come on: a video game?? It only made $90 million world wide and these days, that’s a flop. If a book makes one-ten-thousdandths of $90 million it is a New York Times No. 1 bestseller. Not for the first time do I realize I am in the wrong line of  business.

Everything I know about Tameslouht I owe to the delightful Sara Quinn…

P1180170 2

…Peace Corps volunteer extraordinaire who guided me thru the rues of her adopted hometown. In addition to her duties as a teacher of English, Sara and her fiancé, Tameslouht-native Mustafa Ezzarghani put together a marvelous meeting between leaders and members of the Moslem, Christian, and Jewish communities in Morocco:


You can read the article that Mustafa wrote about the conference for the Morocco World News website here and you can read all about life as a Peace Corps Volunteer/Morroco in Sara’s blog here. Sara and Mustafa went to the Majorelle Garden too!! Read all about their visit here.


I love reading Sara’s blog because it reminds me of my own Peace Corps Volunteer days, except for the bits where she actually goes out and accomplishes things, and is beloved by her community, and makes important contributions to the cultural and economic advancement of her adopted country…other than that yeah, my Peace Corps experience was exactly like Sara’s.

Because this is a special LOVE edition of VivianSwiftBlog I have to show you this photo from Sara’s blog of April 5, 2013:


Because this is Mustafa proposing to Sara in a cafe overlooking the Jemaa El Fan in Marrakech:


Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  I hope Sara and Mustafa will be as happy as Top Cat and I, nine times nine years.

This is Sara and Mustafa when I met them in Tameslouht:

P1180052 2

With TEA!

I am in the salon of Madame the President of the Tameslouht women’s crafts cooperative, called Creation Tameslouht.


 Creation Tameslouht has a  Facebook page:


Madame the President…


…kindly arranged to give me a private showing in her own home:


The beautiful hand-embroidered duvet covers…


…are immaculately sewn with traditional motifs:

P1180054 2

The machine embroidery is very fanciful:



And I loved the pockets on this traditional robe:


Which as you can see from these street photos (from Marrakech) are totally authentically Moroccan:



And the hats!!!  The ones with the large sequins are heavy, but the one with the crazy cute tassels was feather light:


This cute clutch is only 70 dirham ($9.00), all made my hand:


And this spiffy beach bag is only 80 dirham and is sooooooo cooooool:


This is the gorgeous drape/curtain  tie-back that I bought for 100 dirham:


And then there are the scarves:


I’ve never seen scarves like this, all woven by hand, that shimmer:


Or, you can design your own scarf and have it embroidered:


I bought a scarf with colors that reminded me of blue jays and peacocks and when I went back to Paris I wore it with my Seattle fleece and I was ever so a la mode :


There’s nothing like going back to Paris after a 48-hour adventure in Morocco…


…I doubt I would have even noticed, if not for having just been there,  this billboard the Paris metro, shouting Become a LANDOWNER in MOROCCO!! Apartments from 24,000 euros, villas from 100,000 Euros. I guess that Morocco is to Parisians as Santa Fe, NM is to us Long Islanders.

After Morocco, all there was left to do in Paris except to make the long good-bye …


…to a style of living that you can only find in Paris…


I knew I was going to miss it terribly….


…but every lighted window of Paris…


…just made me feel too far away from home…


Happy Bastille Day, everyone! I hope nobody’s having a Pity Party on July 14 — go get a bottle of champagne and toast your favorite memories of Paris! And if you don’t have a memory of Paris, feel free to borrow any of mine.

And of course we cannot call our visit to Morocco complete without announcing the winner of the Majorelle Triscuit:


 Top Cat has chosen his random winner and it is:


Congratulations, Bev, and please email me your snail mail digits at vivianswift at yahoo, before our next get-together next Friday.



30 Comments, RSS

  1. Bev

    Wow, I’ve won the triscuit! How fantastic – I already know where it is going to be displayed! Many thanks, Vivian, and congratulations to you and Top Cat on your anniversary. Bev

  2. Dear Vivian
    What a super nuanced blog post which explains why I both love and don’t love Morocco (mostly love it!)
    I love it’s grittiness ……am depressed by it
    and so on and so on……

    daughter arrived from London yesterday
    are you back on Long Island?

  3. janet bellusci

    happy anniversary to you and TOP CAT!!
    the handiwork displayed by the women of tameslouht is so stunningly colorful…i will be visiting their facebook page shortly to see about ordering one or two of those amazing scarves!
    as for bastille day, i believe your Rx is perfect, and i will happily follow doctor’s orders!!

  4. Pippa

    Happy Anniversary to you and T.C., and Happy Engagement to Sara and Mustafa.

    I gave “When Wanderers Cease to Roam” to my sister-in-law and she almost stopped her birthday party because she flipped through it and was so captivated that she got lost in it. She forced herself to put it down so she could re-join the party but she told me it *killed* her, and immediately after everyone left she sat up into the night and read it completely. She even WROTE me a thank you note…and my sister-in-law never writes letters.

    So thank you for this wonderful blog, and thank you for your wonderful books. I hope you “flop” and sell 90 million copies.

  5. Carol

    Wow, these woman are doing great work!
    You made a wonderful choice in the scarf you chose.

    Have a wonderful anniversary!

  6. Deborah

    Happy Anniversary (and many more)! Love the traditional robe. Love the photo of the faded door tied shut with rope. Love the photo of the dog (it’s NOT weird!!). Love Fridays. Love, love, love.

  7. Laura

    Thank you for sharing Creation Tameslouht. The women there are truly fiber and jewelry artists. I was blown away by their embroidery, especially the traditional tile designs. Wow. Art-making has aesthetic, social and economic power.
    I fell in love with the mystery of Morocco as a girl visiting none-other than Disney’s World Showcase in Orlando. Last summer I read Tahir Shah’s memoir “The Caliph’s House” It’s a relocation and renovation memoir located in Casablanca, Morocco. Your blog has given me ” pictures” for the book and has rekindled my curiosity for Morocco, even though it was not the same city.
    Enjoy your anniversary and I wish you continued joy and contentment in your companionship.

  8. it is so refreshing to start my day with your thoughts… i am still all smiles with sara, i love to see joyful pics! you live a very exciting life, spread far and wide over your decades. we are always drawn to people unlike ourselves, to be able to peek into others lives more vibrant then ours. i know your posts take lots of time to entertain us, and they do, and i thank you. happy anni and may there be no pity party for you ever~

  9. Patricia

    Is that a needle felted necklace? The one with colorful marble sized balls? The photo is so small I can’t see the details. I’ll have to see if they have a website … thanks for taking us to the womens collective.

  10. SandraK

    I love it! When Vivian closes a door, she opens a window!

    What a lovely ending to the Marrekech epic. I bet the hustle and bustle of Paris was quite a shock after non-bustle in Tameslouht. Modern travel is amazing, in one day from the desert to the city of light.

    Champagne for You and Top Cat, for Sara and M., and Vive la France!

  11. Sapphire

    Congratulations on 9 years of wedded bliss—the best is yet to be (you just have to trust me on this). And thank you for allowing me to make your memories of Paris my own. Cheers!

  12. Happiest of anniversaries, Vivian! I just finished “Le Road Trip” (I was saving it!) and I feel like I have been enjoying your love and honeymoon for the past week!

    Looks like a beautiful spot with some fascinating doors and you certainly had a good guide! Love your Seattle fleece and the scarf — great combo! And I’ve totally enjoyed this series of posts; great fun!

  13. Constant Comment

    I love the first green door at Tameslouht. It’s a collage of wood, very Louise Nevelson. Better than Louise Nevelson.

    Very talented ladies at Creative Tameslouht. I hope they get to keep the money they earn — they don’t have to turn it over to the husbands, do they? I don’t know if women in Morocco have a right to private property or money.

    Happy Anniversary to you and Top Cat. Any chance of a ten-year anniversary trip/book to…..Scotland? Morocco?

  14. LadyVee

    But Bastille Day IS my Pity Party Day!

    I was in Paris for Bastille Day 1989.

    The French Bicentennial!!!

    It was amazing, fantastic, delirious, unforgettable.

    And every July 14 I wonder why I am not doing something amazing, fantastic, delirious, unforgettable.

    And if I am depressed and miserable then … what can be more French than that!

    Have a great Bastille Day, everyone!!!

  15. Caroline

    So that’s what a Peace Corps Volunteer looks like, and that’s where they send you. I’ve never met a Peace Corps Volunteer, in fact I didn’t even know the Peace Corps was still around, but Sara is obviously a very dedicated volunteer. It’s good to see that there is still such a thing as an idealistic American. Good work, Sara!

    Still can’t get over that village. People really live there? I know you said you can’t judge a Marrakech house by the outside. Can those village houses be that nice inside?

    Happy Anniversary to you, Happy Bastille Day to all of us!

  16. Lorrine

    I agree with Jain, it’s lovely to see such happiness (the engagement pictures, I mean). Best wishes to the young couple.

    And to the veterans! Nine years! Congratulations!

    Now get back to work on the Damn Garden Book. I am DYING to get my hands on it, me and 89,999,999 million others.

    P.S. I liked that shot of Rin Tin Tin. He looks very noble.

  17. Deb mattin

    happy, happy anniversary! Loved your comment that you should have married him on the second date – now that’s a ringing endorsement!

    The colors of the women’s traditional robes are so vibrant. and love the door pictures , especially the green one. I have lots of pictures of doors in Paris.

    and the funny continues – lofty travelogue talk and bam comes the zinger, ” blah, blah, blah”. Fridays are so much more fun with your postings.

  18. Jeannie

    Happy Anniversary Vivian and Top Cat! Wishing you many more anniversaries together sipping champagne. The women’s co-op is fantastic! I love the tie back you purchased and the little clutch if fantastic. There are days when wearing a robe would be wonderful – comfy and loose. Thanks for the grand tour and now, go celebrate!

  19. Bunny

    I wa looking forward to the trip with you to the hinterlands of morrocco, and like Caroline said, wow whT a cold and dreary looking place . I am usually grateful to tag along with you on Your excursions, and glad I could see this. But as I AM always wishing to be there with you , this time Round I’m glad I am comfortably
    on my couch, in the Good ole U S of A. How do people get through life in remote places like that? Sheesh.
    Reminds me how lucky I am to be born here and alive now in NYC.
    Congrats to you , and that TC.
    Maybe next time he’ll pick me.
    Thinking of a nice home made blueberry pie with my pernod.

  20. Tiny Dancer

    Happy Anniversary, to Top Cat and his Cat Woman.

    Wow…that village looks…like a movie set. Peace Corps volunteers are amazing!

    I want to jump in any one of those Paris windows and watch the sun set over the Eiffel Tower. I know life has its ups and downs all over the world but seriously, if your livingroom has a chandelier and a view of the Seine…isn’t your life mostly perfect???

  21. Carly

    I felt like I got up this morning and trekked through the sands of Persia. You never know where Vivian is going to take us, one week to the next. Thank you for the wild rides.

    Happy Anniversary Number Nine. I think that’s the “cat” anniversary so now is the time to stock up!

    • Karin

      Carly, that’s perfect! The 9th wedding anniversary is The Year of the Cat: cats have nine lives, and marriages should have nine lives too. When you’ve been married a long time like me (27 years and happily still counting) you learn to give your marriage those nine lives.

      If you can’t adopt a shelter cat, then give a donation to the local animal shelter. I can’t imagine a better anniversary gift! I don’t even remember what my husband gave me in 1995 for our anniversary bit if it had been a CAT I would never forget!

  22. Magellan

    My sister told me to read the Marrakech posts on your blog because I’m going to Morocco in the fall and this is genius — to contact local Peace Corps volunteers. I never would have thought that, never heard of anyone doing that. But what better resource to local culture. Thank you for the great tip.

  23. Joan

    I would find living in a place like Tameslouht incredibly depressing. Paris is more my cuppa…

    Loved the travelog tho’, it’s always great to tag along with you wherever adventure takes you.

    The needlework of the Tameslouht women is spectacular. I can really appreciate the skill and time it takes to make such beautiful things. I do a lot of needlwork myself. The scarves were especially beautiful and fine. Your choice was spot on. Do these ladies get to keep the monies from sales? I sure hope so!

    I’m off to find out the meaning of Tameslouht.

  24. Carol

    Happy Anniversary and best wishes for many, many more!! Thank you for showing us Tameslouht. I had never heard of it. I am always learning something on your blog. Pumpkin sends kind regards to Penelope!!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *