After my five days in Marrakech of personal time, that were truly personally therapeutic and necessary, I met a few of the students for a dinner in Marrakech and spent my last night at my hotel in the Kasbah. On Saturday morning, I woke up for a practice and by 9:30 some of the students had arrived for our meeting and travel to Essaouira. Right away, I felt an instant ‘role change’ from my personal time to my ‘teacher and retreat leader’ position which was a comfortable and familiar place and gave me a nice renewed sense of living my purpose. There were 5 students meeting at the hotel and we were picking up 3 at the airport for our 3 hour ride to the coast. Everything went pretty much right as planned and I was very grateful that flights and people were there! Maktub, as it is written…. (an Arabic phrase I picked up from reading The Alchemist recently!).
Out driver was a fun Moroocan who had great taste in music and gave us a little insight to the city as we traveled through the suburbs of Marrakech and out to the open space. It was a very polluted day and we didn’t have much to see beyond the road a few hundred meters in every direction. Of you’ve ever been on retreat before…then you know about the first bus ride. People meeting each other, still travel weary and a bit wide-eyed at the new sights, sounds and people. I enjoyed the front seat post with the driver and listened intently to how the group began the interaction. They were playing nice together
Our trip lasted about 3 1/2 hours with a few stops and arrival at the Hotel Dar L’oussia was a welcome treat. It is a great 5 level building just a few 30 – 50 meters to the sea. They invited the group to a welcome tea and it was nice to get to our new home and feel right away welcomed. The students were all taken to their rooms and I went off to mine and was very luxuriously and pleasantly surprised at the spacious junior suite that was to be my new home for the week. There is enough room for me to have my personal practice on a beautiful Moroccan rug every morning without having to leave my room and bathroom made for 3 (even though it’s just me!).
We met for a first yoga class with where only 1 student from Mallorca really knew my teaching. There are another from Hamburg who took a workshop with me and another from Berlin who made Kirtan…. but the other 9 didn’t have any idea what Yoga, the David Lurey Way , was like… so we made a very tranquilo welcome to your body and introduction to what Yoga is to me. There were still 4 students coming the next day so I waited for the welcome / introduction circle until the second day.
This retreat is based a lot on faith as I did not know this country at all, or this hotel and what the services would be like. We are practicing in a meeting room that is actually a good space for practice over looking a small courtyard. The dining room is a long and rather dramatic arch filled room with great Moroccan lamps and the staff is very accommodating. But with all these wonderful things, it is still clear that the food on a retreat can make or break it! I remembered the experience in Italy where it was a heavily carniverous hotel we were staying at and although the food was good, it was heavy Italian food. Here at Dar L’oussia, there are French owners and chef. I have requested fish and vegetarian meals for dinner which was already scary to some of the students. The first few nights have been very good food, but since the students are working hard, the portions seem to be a bit…well…French. I had a talk with the manager today about it and hope we will have some more food the next few days. They have a special event and dinner planned for New Year’s Eve which includes a very French menu. I have requested a nice fish menu for the group and this morning they said if any of the students want to have the house meal, they can…I looked and saw Fois Gras and Duck on the menu and thought to myself…shit, where does it come to the point where I stop ‘projecting my values’ on the students but also feel like I am inviting them to look deeper into their habits. The compromise I came to was that those who will have the fois gras ,ust sit and watch this clip with me
——the above post was all written before 12/31, and the following on Jan 5.——-
Just after taking some time to write a blog post, some of the students decided to head out for a lunch ad afternoon on the town. We were meeting at the main square in Essauira and were going to get a nice fish lunch. Along the seaside, there are about 15 – 20 stalls where there are amazing displays of the day’s catch and dozens of men doing their best to get the groups of tourists into their stalls for eating. One of our students had been the day before and ‘made friends’ with one of the places so chose their for our group of 10 of us. We were supposed to have 3 more, but they missed our scheduled meeting time / place. We didn’t thinkn much of it at the time except for one that was with us who ‘felt’ something must have happened to one of the others who was there with some physical challenges. The meal was fantastic with delicious and super fresh fish prepared for us and a fun group energy. After we dined and paid out ridiculously cheap bill for what we ate (about 10 Euros each for full bellies!) I left to take a walk through the ‘souk’ or shopping streets of the town. I had been wandering around for a bit when two students who were not with us on the lunch called my name from down the street and came up in a hurry. ‘Something happened to ____ and she is in the hospital with a broken leg’. Well, that was not what I expected!! They didn’t have details but told me the hotel staff was waiting for me and two other participants were at the hospital with the injured one. I quickly made my way back and was met with a flurry of activity…the hotel was under preparations for New Year’s even celebration with workers, tables, lights, etc… and the English speaking manager of the hotel gave me a quick overview that a student fell in the streets, had a broken leg and was taken to the hospital by local police and had 2 other students with her to take care. Over the next 30 minutes, with the suggestions of the hotel managers and a general hunch, we decided we needed to gather her things and send her to Marrakech for proper medical treatment. Four of five of us quickly went up to organize and pack all her things and within 15 minutes had her all cleared out of her room. I went back to the hospital with one of the girls who was with her during the accident and we were at the hospital within 10 minutes more. While all this was happening, I actually felt pretty calm and collected. Something in me was still trusting the universe and knowing that all of us were given the lessons we are ready for. I have all the students sign a release waiver which also helped with my general trust in the situation and I felt clear in my ability to make the right call in combination with suggestions from the hotel managers, other students and the doctors. The hospital in Essaouira is a pretty simple place. There were lots of rooms, but they only had beds in them….no other medical equipment or devices…very basic. When we got to the room where she was, there was a bit of activity with calls to her parents and insurance companies and plans to arrange a private ambulance to get her to the best hospital in Marrakech. Sadly, the biggest challenge was dealing on the phone with the insurance company which one of the other students was dealing with… what is covered, what hospitals can she get coverage, can the parents access the case…. really an extreme hassle in the face of an emergency in a 3rd world country (subsequently, I am reviewing my travelers plan this month!). After this dealing and talking with the doctor, who was extremely helpful and great at what he does, we were ready to get her to the ambulance and to Marrakech. I saw the x-ray of what happened and was shocked to see a femur bone literally broken in half…in two parts witha clean break close to the top. The circumstances of how and why it happened are personal, but it was an accident and as far as we know not an act of violence or aggression. When the ambulance driver, who was a sweet old man appearing to be about 60 years old, came into the room, he ran into the door with the rolling transport bed. I made a small joke about ‘good thing he got that out of the way now’ which got a little laugh out of the few of us in the room…and also seemed a bit scary! The doctor, nurse and I transfered her to the rolling bed and then they bound her legs together for the 3 hour journey over bumpy Moroccan roads… When everything was all cleared in the room, with the insurance, with the doctor in Essaouira and the parents..it was time to make the transition to the ambulance and the three of us decided that we would send her to Marrakech on her own not knowing what support (other then emotional) we could provide. The driver began to push her down the hall and yes, foreshadowing in full effect, ran her into the door post! She screamed in pain and we all could not believe it happened…there wasn’t anything we could do other then calm her down and then steer the best we could to the elevator and then into the ambulance. We got her and her things all squared away and by 7:30 she was on her way and pretty much out of our hands. We walked back to our hotel where the other students were having their Yoga class taught by a friend I know from Mallorca who was visiting on holiday and we gave the report to everyone. When this accident happened, there were lots of emotions around it but what really inspired me was how the rest of the group came together in support of the situation. The compassion and desire to help was great and I really appreciate the students who were integral in handling the situation calmly and effectively.
So the 3 of us from the hospital made some yoga and massage to clear the situation and literally within 2 hours were downstairs at the hotel with the rest of the group to ring in the New Year. Although we were all a bit shocked and saddened it happened, the fact that was going to be OK and it was out of our hands allowed us to clear the energy and make a nice evening out of the end of 2008! There was a band that played, although they were not the arabic music I anticipated, and there was a belly dancer, although not the ‘lesson’s I had requested and anticipated and the meal was mediocre, which sadly was anticipated after the previous days. But we were there together…a group of strangers to have a Yoga adventure and with a few days of connection already built, had a very fun and opening time together. We had a New Year’s birthday of one student and got to sing and eat cake and at the strike of midnight made great cheers and hugs and celebrated together as Yogi’s with open hearts and fun attitudes. The band was a group of young Moroccan guys playing rock and reggae covers (even the unfortunate ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ during our dinner….Ahhhh!!!) and the music selection during the dancing was not much better….yes, I am a music snob and recognize my judgments and attachments here! So I decided to ask if I could play a song using one of their guitars and the band to back me up! They said yes and it was great to play for the retreat in this way.
Some wonderful memories:
-The way the Moroccan’s shake hands and touch their hearts when they meet you
-The Kirtan we made by the fire the third night
-The young boy who joined in for a few of the 108 Sun Salutes
-The Hand of Fatima on my neck that was gifted my the students!
-My ‘Moroccan cousin’ with the curly hair
-Delfinito…the wild young one on the beach and beyond
-Jamming on the beach
-Breakfast on the terrace the last 3 days
-Seeing the opening of the students!
-Chatturanga Breakthroughs for EVERYONE!!
-Watching total strangers become friends for life!
-Last night music party at the bar with Kif Samba