Teaching Yoga in Taghazout, Morocco

Teaching Yoga in Taghazout, Morocco

I was really excited to teach in Morocco. This is where I originally applied in July, but most wanted a 3 month minimum. They must have had a cancellation as they needed someone right away.

It was awesome teaching athletic students! Even better, several said I was a good teacher. ?

Surf Coast Morocco was run by a young Moroccan and his German girlfriend, who met when she was vacationing in Morocco. Their place is a very charming old, multi-story house on the beach. My room was a newly built addition on the 4rth floor balcony, overlooking the sea (top right in photo below). The surf instructor slept on either the sofa on the balcony or a room, if there was one open. He spent a lot of nights on the sofa.

The yoga classes were on the deck above the 4rth floor. Definitely the most beautiful place I have ever done yoga. I taught classes at sunrise and sunset, when guests requested them, with a beautiful view of the ocean and town. During class, we could hear the waves crashing, children playing on the beach and the frequent mosque call to prayer echoing around town….

I researched the best moves for surfers to build strength and balance, as well as to stretch and restore the body afterword. I found that I really enjoy  choreographing new classes and making play lists.

I was amazed of the fitness of the students as some wanted vigorous ‘Flow’ classes twice a day in addition to surfing! Others complained about how sore there arms were, so I tried to develop classes without Vinyasa’s for them.

Breakfast and Dinner were served directly after yoga at a long table on the balcony. It was great to share a meal and sunshine with guests from all over Europe. So much nicer to have a big group dinner than everyone eating on their own. The location of the house and the meals were the best features of Surf Coast Morocco.

The dishes were usually tagines, made by a Moroccan lady that worked for Reda and Julia. All were fantastic! There was chicken, fish or beef cooked in those fancy triangle showed pots with a variety of vegetables and Moroccan spices. My favorite was one made of chicken, onions, tomatoes and raisins. We also had grilled fish, BBQ, a variety of salads and soups, and of course, mint tea for dessert. It is a dry town, but the owners would drive the 30 minutes to the next town to buy wine or beer for guests if they wanted. I had a few drinks, but was mostly alcohol free as I had to be up early and ready to teach.

Making the mint tea was a process in itself…but I really think much of it was just for show. I watched one guy make it and It took at least half an hour to boil the water and mix in the loose tea….pouring small amounts in and out of cups and back to the pot, repeatedly. ?  it was good, but some nights the simplicity of a tea bag would have been just fine…

Reda took the guests out for surfing lessons daily, usually around 11AM. There are various surf spots, so they decided where to go based on guest abilities and the weather.

This photo is of Reda (in the grey cap in drivers seat), the owner, getting ready to drive the surf boards back to the house after a day of surfing. Crazy to see 10 boards on top of this tiny car.

Lunch on for the surfers was either packed sandwiches or more tagines, which are cooked right on the beach (orange triangles below).

When the surfing instruction was done, the instructors and locals all played soccor on the beach while waiting for rides back home.

They sell strange things on the beach here. Men walk around carrying pots of tea and bags of mint, for mint tea….or doughnuts, camel rides and tagines.

The downside to Taghazout, is that much of the plumbing runs right into the ocean. You can literally see the sewage running onto the sand in this photo (the dark spot in the sand in front of the house). There are also camels and dogs on the beach, so you have to watch where you step.

Many of the locals throw their trash outside their houses. What is not eaten by the many stray cats, dogs and goats (yes, goats) also ends up the ocean. So, unfortunately, the town ends up smelling like fish, sewage and trash.

This was tolerable at first, but became overwhelming when I got a stomach bug. They call it “Taghazout Tummy”, and more than half the travelers I met got it. I’m not sure if I got it from accidentally swallowing the ocean water while surfing (this happens when you get hit by a big wave) or from eating contaminated food, but I decided to stay out of the ocean after I learned about the sewage. Even sick, I still managed to teach all but one class, but I did spend a few days sleeping a lot and eating Pringles. I think I cleaned a few shops out of them…

The surf camp also had a cat on the balcony. She was a kitty herself, but had four kittens a week or so before I arrived. It took them a few weeks to open their eyes and be brave enough to venture out from under the bench, but it was super cute to watch them explore and get more independent every day. Since the mom didn’t seem to be getting fed regularly, I bought her a couple boxes of cat food and started giving her food and water twice a day.

Overall, it was a great place to gain more experience as a yoga instructor. I taught 33 hours of yoga and got a lot of exercise.mother than being sick, I felt great and the people I met were super nice.

Costs

Since my room and board were covered in exchange for teaching, I only spent $15/day here. Simply the cost of my airfare to Morocco and a few snacks/meals outside the surf camp. I also got a few free surfing lessons. Being a good surfer is definitely not in my future, but it was fun to try! ??

The Town of Taghazout, Morocco

Taghazout is a small fishing village of 3,000 people, about a 3 hour drive southwest of Marrakech. It started as a fishing village, and there are still a lot of fishermen out in their blue boats…

….and selling their fish at these stalls on the beach…

…however, the city is planning for a lot of tourism growth. They want to make this area the first seaside resort in Morocco, mostly to attract surfers, but also Europeans looking for a sunny, warm beach in winter.

There was a lot of construction by the beach to prepare for this growth. It was sad to see this as the charming village will probably lose it’s cultural essence. On the bright side, however, maybe it will force them to clean up their trash and fix the sewage problem. This area does have a lot of potential.

The town is a maze of homes with balconies overlooking the sea. As far as I could see, we were the only place doing yoga classes on the rooftop.

The people in Taghazout were a mix of Moroccans in traditional clothes, Moroccans in surf gear, and European surfers. The Moroccan surfers are very friendly and greet you as you would expect a very laid back Californian surfer to greet you…with the addition of dreadlocks and European kisses to both cheeks.

The locals are mostly of Berber descent and usually speak Berber, Arabic, French and English. I tried to research where the Berbers originated from, but they have lived in this area for so long that there are conflicting stories. The one that seems most likely is that during the ice age, when the glaciers started moving south, there was a migration into Africa from Europe and the Middle East. Many of the Berbers have light, or medium skin tones with green or hazel eyes, so you can see definitely see the traces of European and Middle Eastern ancestry.

When I went for walks in town, the locals were curious about me. They would stop me on the street or call out to me from their shops. They wanted to know where I was from and many wanted to sit and talk over a cup of tea. They were all very respectful and some wanted to talk about how people from different cultures and different religions are really all the same, deep down. So true!

 

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