A day in the life of a Guesthouse Manager in Morocco by Daniel Bates
Updated: May 13, 2020
In these crazy current times where we are all at home, unable to travel or see the people that we care about, some of us unable to work, we have time to think and reflect on our life choices, situation and our future. Having spent the last year in a crazy whirl wind of leaving our corporate jobs, hobbies, friends, families, homes and packing up our UK lives to move to Morocco, start our own business and run a guesthouse I wanted to share with you an insight into what a typical day in the life of a guesthouse manager was like.
Yet another 7am wake-up call to prepare breakfast for our guests, not as early as I (Daniel) used to have to get up for work in the UK, but was still tough knowing what long working hours lay ahead. So I would pull myself out of our small room in the cellar and fall straight into the shower (very loose terms of a shower, it was a wooden pallet covering a squatty toilet with a hose attached to a tap, but it worked so we do what we have to do right…. 😊
Refreshed and ready to go, I would head straight to the kitchen and put the mint tea, coffee and boiled eggs on whilst getting the breakfast trays ready for the guests. The average Moroccan breakfast contains an assortment of jams, olives, butter, dates, cheese triangles (yes that’s right, the most common cheese here is the glorious cheese triangle), boiled eggs, fresh bread (ours made daily by our neighbour) and a Msemen (Moroccan Pancake that is highly addictive so beware!). But in my opinion the main event that puts Moroccan breakfasts high up on my list is the freshly squeezed orange juice, WOW it is so amazing!
After breakfast was served and cleared, we occasionally would have time to enjoy a coffee and breakfast together on the terrace before checking out guests and Natalie tackling the to do list for the day, which usually consisted of turning the house around for the new guests arriving, making fresh soup, answering guest messages and emails, going to Tinghir for food shopping and preparing for the evening yoga class, whilst I would head out to the rocks with clients for some single pitch climbing or tackling a full day multi-pitch climb, We always share the load and some days Natalie would help me with the climbers or lead groups on the Via Ferrata and Nomad hiking loop, whilst I stayed home to tackle the chores.
Back from a day of activities would see us checking in new guests, with a universal greeting of tea (mint of course, despite us being British), but with the sugar on the side. Even though Moroccan mint tea (also called Berber whisky) is delicious the copious amounts of sugar and green tea in it can certainly push any person into a sugar coma and stop them sleeping so we preferred to give our guests the option.
Whilst checking guests in we also prepared the tagines for dinner. Tagines are clay cooking pots with a welded metal plate underneath and handles that are put on an open flame (in our case on a camping stove) and left to slow cook for a couple of hours. We prepare the vegetables and build them on top of diced onions and tomatoes with some oil at the bottom along with the famous spices found and grown locally. The tagine is placed on the heat with lid on to trap the water vapour, which captures the steam and helps cook everything inside perfectly. Here's one we made earlier.....
With the main course on the heat, we may have a little time to shower, lay the dinner table or even talk to one another about our day (that’s if Natalie wasn't busy running one of her yoga sessions on our roof terrace with our guests).
Before we know it, it was time to serve dinner, which is one of our favourite times of the day. We ran a small intimate guesthouse so everyone sat around one table and shared stories and experiences whilst breaking bread and sipping wine (as internationals we are allowed to serve alcohol to guests if they so choose). Many people got very excited when they saw the beer and wine!
Dinner would be 3 courses that included a fresh homemade soup using seasonal produce from the local market, Tagine for main course (unless completely caught unawares with last minute hungry guests arriving unannounced, where it has been known for us to give up our own dinner of a Spaghetti Bolognese…and of course they had to be Italian! luckily they liked it.) followed by a dessert, usually a chocolate flan or a fruit salad and of course more tea! (without the sugar and caffeine so that the guests could actually sleep). Once all the stories were finished and the food and drink devoured we would bid our guests “bonne nuit”, clear the table, wash the dishes and finally fall into our bed (which actually was 2 Moroccan sofa cushions next to one another on a large wooden pallet) and get ready for the next day ahead.
So yes the days were long , but when you share your time with so many interesting international travellers, all of which away from their stresses of everyday life, no matter what language you try to converse in, you always share the most amazing stories and experiences. We truly feel humbled to have been given the opportunity to host a guesthouse, live in such a beautiful country and share our passions of rock climbing and yoga with others. So if you ask “do you think you have you made the right choice moving to Morocco to earn less and work more?” our answer is always the same……. “of course, who wouldn’t want to live on holiday!”.