One year ago today, I boarded a plane to Morocco. I sold all of my belongings and headed out on a new adventure. I had been tired of struggling. I spent half of my savings in one year. Having 2 surgeries in one year look its toll on me and my finances. I couldn’t bear to lose any more of my savings. My friend talked about Morocco and how inexpensive and beautiful it was. At the time, she was considering taking a job there. We talked about taking a trip there for my 50th birthday, and we did.

In the springtime, with all the Morocco talk, I had changed my profile on a dating site to reflect that I was in Rabat, Morocco. I was just looking for people to talk to there and maybe hang out with, if and when we made our trip there. Much to my amazement, a wonderful guy contacted me. The connection was almost instantaneous. We talked all throughout every day. In July, my friend and I made the decision to buy those birthday plane tickets to Rabat. The sweet guy on the other end of my Whatsapp was one reason I wanted to go. The other was to see if I could actually live there. If I could, I thought I could maintain my savings and live comfortably. I also hoped I could actually save some money and replenish the what I had lost over the past year.

September came quickly and I knew that if I had real chemistry with this wonderful Moroccan man, I would probably move there. We both talked, with anticipation and hope, in the 2 months from when I bought the tickets till the day I left. We both felt this connection could be something real, and it was. After a week with him in Rabat, we knew we wanted to be together. I was nervous about such a life change but, a week after I arrived home I bought my ticket back to Morocco.

As I look back on the past year, I am amazed at what has transpired. I will admit, the first few months were a bit of an adjustment but, I was so happy to be in Morocco with this man.

In January, I applied for a visa extension. Then, three months later, I started the process of applying for my Carte Sejour or Moroccan residency. It has been 4 months since I received the receipt for my residency application. As it turns out, it will take a year to get my actual resident card. Every three months I must have the paper receipt stamped until I get my ID card. It seems they want to see if I am (or anyone applying) serious about staying in Morocco. This news came via my Moroccan mans brother, who is in law enforcement in Kenitra. This isn’t a big deal. Except, if I go home. I have to buy, not only one round trip ticket to and from Morocco but, also a one way ticket back to the US, or somewhere outside of Morocco. This is because a travel visa expires after 3 months. Currently, this is preventing me from taking time to visit home but, more on that later.

In the past year, I wrote my first novel. Gypsy Heart: Breaking Free is based on my first adventure living internationally. I published it through Amazon and Kindle so, its available in both paperback and e-format. I am proud of this first attempt as an author. I have lived a life like no other and felt my story needed to be told. Ultimately, I would like to write a prequel and a sequel. The prequel about the first time my Gypsy Heart wandered and the aftermath of that experience. Then, the sequel about my time, here and now. I’m hoping to start writing again soon but, my time is being consumed by other things.

Those other things are 2 online ventures. One is SAROdesign, a surf inspired apparel and accessories website (designbysaro.com) and Threadless.com Artist Store. We also have an Etsy Store, Instagram, Facebook page, Pinterest account and a YouTube channel. SAROdesign is designs that my Moroccan man and I have created and sell them through print on demand drop shipping companies. There are 50 images that can be printed on apparel for men women and children, along with things like phone cases, mugs, beach bags, beach towels and more. The focus is on surf inspired images but, there are also inspirational, fun and things just for kids too. The struggle is getting found on search engines and driving sales. This is my first venture into this online world so, there is definitely a learning curve, to say the least.

The drive to make money online is because, here in Morocco, income is hard to come by. Even for my Moroccan man. We want to make more, so we can save more and travel. This has led us to start another online venture called SAROsurf. Saro-surf.com is going to be a booking site geared toward people who want to take a surf vacation. We are going to use Booking.com and Flight Network as affiliate marketers to generate an income. We are also going to offer surf packages. The packages will be available dirrectly through us and will offer surf lessons (given by my Moroccan man) and lunch (prepared by me). This, in hopes to eventually have our own surf camp here in the Taghazout, Morocco area. This is basically how all of the many, many surf camps here got started and became a success. My Moroccan man has been surfing for over 20 years and has worked at a handful of surf camps here, in the area, as an instructor/guide. I have spent many years in the hospitality business, myself. So, I see us being successful and quite possibly surpassing the success of our predecessors. It is all in its infancy, the domain bought this week and I am currently building the site. Just like SAROdesign, the challenge will be to get up on the search engine rankings and be found. I am hoping that the universe and some research bring us the answers on how to do this properly and with it comes great prosperity.

(If you are wondering what “SARO” is exactly… its our initials. I’m SA and my Moroccan man is RO… so, SAROdesign and SAROsurf were born.)

Also, in this past year, I have experienced a great life milestone. On October 5th, my Moroccan man and I were married. This too, was a journey of great self discovery for me. Not to mention, it was another experience of gathering information and paperwork, much like my Carte Sejour application. I have to admit, I think we both knew, deep down inside, we would marry one day. It was just when and where that was uncertain. It was a long process and decisions about if this was really what we wanted. Just the process itself was trying. It is not like back home. There was a trip to the Embassy in Casablanca to get official copies of my passport and a notarised statement that I was free to marry. Stamped copies of background checks, medical clearance, birth certificates, translated paperwork and hiring a Doula were the start of the process. Then, came an interview by the local police. From there, it was a waiting game for the interview envelope to make it from Taghazout to Agadir. Then, more waiting…. to get the call to go to the courthouse to have our final interview and clearance for the union. That day was October 5th the day of our marriage. On October 6th we went back to the Doula’s office to draw up the marriage certificate. this was suppose to be done the day of our marriage but, the translator was late and we were tired. As of now, we have a receipt that the official marriage certificate is being drawn up at the courthouse. Its been nearly 2 weeks and we havent heard back from anyone, yet.

There had been many conversations, in the past,  about moving to the US and without being married this was impossible. More recently, my Moroccan man has expressed a certain level of anxiety over the thought of moving and even a reluctance. It has been me who has been feeling discontent with life here. Maybe the desire to go home is because of the feeling I am isolated and a bit trapped here. I don’t necessarily want to spend the extra money on plane fare. Saving money hasn’t happened as easily as I had anticipated but, it happening very slowly. Of course, I wish it was happening faster. Hence the desire to move back home, where we can both make money. Even with that, the expense of life in the US could very well hamper any desire to save. So, I am putting all of the energy I can into our online ventures. They could very well be the key to our future. No matter where we live we could generate that income. Ultimately, if we could do this and stay here and travel home, or wherever, 3-4 months out of the year, that would be ideal. Life in Morocco is inexpensive so, that could be a real viable option. If not, then maybe moving to the US is our answer. It will take 1 year to get a residency visa for my Moroccan man. So, here in lies the challenge. Time vs money. It all makes my head spin. I could go round and round talking about the possibilities, upside and downside of each option… about time and money. But, I’m going to refrain. The focus, for now, is making  our SARO ventures happen and getting what we need from them.

The other day my best friend asked me if I could do it all again, would I? I told him that I regret nothing in life so, yes I would do it all again. He then asked if I would do anything differently. Hind sight is always 20/20. Who wouldn’t do something differently? I told him that I would have taken time to familiarize myself with and hopefully learn the language…. or at least some French, Morocco’s second language. This would have made my adjustment here easier and even make me feel less trapped and isolated today. These  are feelings I struggle with and they rattle my contentment. I would do anything for my husband, I love him and know we are meant to be on this journey together. I have to admit, though, some days are hard. The monotony of my life here does get to me. Living in small village, not knowing the language is hard. I spend a majority of my time alone. Without phone calls from friends back home, I would surely go nuts. It’s those phone calls that keep me sane. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my quiet life here in the village, with the sheep and goats wandering the streets, for life in Agadir. The rent in town would be higher and temptation to spend money would be there, too. This would take away the little money that I do save every month. All in all, the isolation that I some days loathe is a blessing. It has afforded me to save (even if just a little), write a first novel and start 2 online ventures. Who knows if any of it would have happened otherwise. Plus, I love the animals. They still give me joy and make me feel connected here, just as they did when I first arrived. I just have to put language learning back on my to do list.

Its been a year of surprises, unexpected feelings and situations, ups, downs, adjustments, fears but mostly it has been filled with love. I would not trade a minute of it. xo

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