Our first installment of “Expat in [enter city name]” is with Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki. There are others coming along shortly, but as  we wait for them, lets give a few deets on how this will go. These posts will give insight to those living away from their native country – what they do, why they left, the hardest parts things to get used to, etc. Many will be Americans living abroad, but other times it will be non-Americans living stateside. Whichever it may be, I’m hoping you’ll take something away from seeing everyday people, just like you, experiencing the world outside their comfort zone.

Where are you from?
I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

What brought you to Morocco?
13 years ago I met and married a Moroccan man. 4 years ago we decided to move back to Morocco for our kids to learn Arabic and French as well as learning a bit about this part of their heritage.

What made you stay?
We were looking for a slower pace of life and as mentioned the opportunities for our kids. We were planning to stay a year but realized it would take longer for them to learn the languages – so we stayed!

What has been the hardest thing (ie. food, culture, climate, mannerisms, etc.) to get used to?
The hardest thing to get used to is the lack of privacy. I find Moroccan life to be a bit intrusive and there’s very little respect for personal space – in the way I as a North American would like.

What about your new home do you love the most?
The weather (except in summer!) I really love living somewhere that has decent weather all year long. I don’t miss the snow at all!

Is there anything you’ve learned along the way that every future expat in Morocco should know, or wish you had known before coming?
I think a lot of your own experience in Morocco depends on your expectations. It’s good to know very little will be what you’re used to. I would recommend the most important thing to keep in mind is patience, patience, patience – you’ll need it!

Tell us your top 3 places to visit, things to do, restaurants to eat, whatever, in Morocco?
1) Slow down. This isn’t a thing to do or see but experience. I really think taking time to just relax, sit on a rooftop, read a book or listen to music is a must. This to me really is the essence of Morocco.
2) Eat – street food. Don’t be afraid to pull up a chair where the Moroccans are eating. The food they’re having won’t be on any tourist menu that you come across but it just might be some of the best things you eat while you’re in Morocco.
3) Get a good guide for the cities. A guide can be really critical to understanding Moroccan history and cities. But, spend a little more to get someone good. Chances are if the price is really low, you’re going to be dragged from shop to shop in hopes that the guide will make some commission. Be clear in what you want and don’t want from the beginning and don’t feel bad saying you don’t want to see/do something.

 

Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki runs the blog MarocMama, is the author of  The Outsiders Inside Guide to Marrakech, and owner of Marrakech Food Tours.