Remote Year Ohana Week 7: Getting back to Essaouira

Third week in Marrakech and there were so many great moments. The highlight was another trip to Essaouira. After the amazing day trip last week, a few of us decided that it would great to take a more extended trip, so we went from Friday to Sunday and stayed at a lovely Airbnb. After this trip, Essaouira has officially become my favorite city in Morocco, I even thought I could use it as a regular summer vacation spot. Other highlights include a Monday morning visit to two palaces in Marrakech, sunset drinks on the rooftop of El Fenn hotel, and a positive impact dinner at Amal Center.

Monday, 16th April: Today was another near perfect day that started with an early morning run and 30-day killer workout by the pool, followed by jogging and speed walking to two palaces (El Badi Palace and Bahia Palace) with Jill,

Lunch with Susanna in the Medina at Cafe Des Espices, coaching calls in the afternoon, and ending the evening with sunset drinks on the rooftop of El Fenn hotel followed by dinner with some of my favorite Ohana ladies.

There is something particularly magical about rooftops in Marrakech, and this one at El Fenn over sunset is especially beautiful.

Being in this beautiful place with lovely new friends, I was truly happy and content.

Wednesday, 18th April 2018: Today's highlight was a positive impact dinner at Amal Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women through restaurant training and job placement. It was a fantastic evening learning how to make some traditional Moroccan food,

Eating food in a lovely garden setting, and most importantly, contributing to a good cause.

Empowering women is something that is really close to my heart. It started from a year and half ago when I had the privilege of attending a Women Leadership Program at Syngenta and reading books such as Playing Big and Lean In. It led me to joining the board of a Women in Agribusiness industry group in Singapore and leading a Syngenta internal women's group. Through all these involvements I discovered some eye-opening statistics both within my company and in the corporate world at large. The representation of women at corporate leadership positions is still dismal despite that most developed countries have more women getting undergraduate and graduate degrees than men. At Amal Center, the issue being addressed is at a much more basic level - providing skills to disadvantaged women so they can be self-sufficient in life. But whether the training is in basic cooking skills or confidence and self-promotion, the end goal is very similar. Both are about educating and empowering women to live a better live, to play bigger, and claim the place they deserve in the world.

Friday to Sunday, 20-22 April 2018: We loved Essaouira so much from the day trip last week that we decided to for the weekend. It was my idea of a perfect weekend where we had a relaxing time in a beautiful little town, stayed in a lovely Airbnb full of local charm, and spent our time walking in town, going to lovely restaurants and cafes, and having an afternoon of hammam (a traditional Moroccan bath) and pampering.

This is the most perfect picture that represents this weekend: the charming and colorful streets of Essaouira, Susanna snapping away her photos, Susan being present and enjoying herself in the moment, and cats running around everywhere.

Here is a picture of the Saturday morning in the Airbnb. It was the perfect morning starting with all of us doing something active in the living room - Susanna and I doing our own versions of the 30-day killer workout and Susan dancing to her Bruno Mars tunes. After all of that, we had a moment getting ready and chilling out in the apartment before starting the day. As I was watching Susan and Susanna in the apartment, I had a moment of extreme gratitude for this amazing life I have chosen and have the privilege to live, and for the wonderful new friends with whom I can share these moments with.

The colors of Essaouira are stunning. I also love the doors and bicycles in Morocco. There are many of them in Marrakech; but in Essaouira, with the stunning colors. they are even more beautiful.

A walk through the beautiful beach of Essaouira to get ourselves some wine for the pre-dinner drink later that evening.

For lunch, we went back to the seafood stands and had an enormous amount of seafood.

We spent the Sunday walking around town and doing restaurant hopping, tasting various tagines, a great way to end our time in Essaouira.

Before we left town I also bought a suite case so I can put some of my stuff for Susan to take with her when she goes back to LA. In the end I put 15kgs in that suitcase and I felt like a huge burden has been lifted. But fast forward a week, when it came to the time to travel out of Marrakech I was still left with a hug suitcase, a carry-on and a purse, all completely maxed out! Then there is a citizen (a Remote who has finished a one-year program) who joined us for this month who has been traveling the world the last three years with a carry-on ONLY! How is this possible? I know I won't ever get there, but I'd like to get to a point where I have a check-in bag and a carry-on that are not overweight. This is making me wonder, what am holding on to with all this extra baggage?

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