Experiencing Morocco in 16 days
Last updated 2/14/2023 at Noon
Every year in the fall, Sisters fabric artist and entrepreneur Valori Wells goes to the North African nation of Morocco with people from all over the U.S., to explore the culture and daily activities of Moroccan people.
Wells founded the program known as Creative Retreats and normally takes about 12 people on each retreat. All attending this time were women, ranging between the ages of 50-70.
“These retreats take a group of men or women down to various places to teach them about the culture and creativity within it,” explained Wells’ daughter Olivia Kennedy, who joined the trip.
On these trips sewing, pottery, camel riding, and a variety of other cultural things are taught. Kennedy’s mom left on November 26, and Olivia and her grandmother (Jean Wells) followed her on December 3. When they arrived after the long flight, they stayed in a place known as Darzamen.
“Alleyways were about four people wide,” said Kennedy.
The next day, they arrived at the beautiful Peacock Pavilions, located in Marrakech, where they as well as the other women who traveled from Oregon would be staying for the next week.
Wells has taken six trips down to Morocco, but this was Olivia’s first time.
“It was very interesting going down there and seeing the cultural differences. It was definitely a cultural shock,” she said.
She said that if you were not confident walking down the alleys of Morocco, the street vendors would tug and pull on you to try to get you into their shops in hopes something would catch your eye and you would buy it. Kennedy said that it took her until the last few days to learn this.
Morocco is predominantly Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, with the faith demographics running in that order. Five times a day, a man goes into a mosque and calls the people of Morocco to pray. There are mosques stationed in every single neighborhood, so that wherever you are in Morocco you can hear the call to pray.
Moroccan people take their religion very seriously, and family time is very important.
Kennedy said, “The kids in Morocco have a half-day on Fridays, and the rest of the day is devoted to solely making couscous. They have bread with every single meal and do not eat any preservatives; everything they eat is fresh.”
By the time the children in Morocco have graduated, they will be fluent in at least three languages, including traditional Arabic, French, and Arabic dialects. Recently Morocco has implemented English-learning into their schools.
Some days were spent riding camels as well as watching soccer matches with the locals. Other days were packed with learning how to sew, learning pottery, and exploring the culture and vendors Morocco offers.
“I met some amazing people as well as made some spectacular friends,” Kennedy said. “My confidence has definitely been raised because I was forced to have higher confidence in myself over in Morocco. The biggest change for me was cultural shock. But I loved participating in programs that developed women and their education.”
She said she would definitely go back.
For more information on creative retreats to Bali or Morocco, visit https://valoriwells.com/workshops-retreats.