We know this year has been so unbelievably hard for those of us in healthcare and especially as nurses. We have faced shortages in PPE, fear of dying from a deadly virus and have been distrusted by the public. 2020 was supposed to be the year of the nurse. Let's re-claim it for 2021.
Come to Morocco for the trip you deserve with trusted professionals and your fellow nurses to have an unbelievable escape and adventure. You will get an opportunity to unwind, reflect and transform. You see, Morocco chooses what it has in store for you.
Both Courtney and myself have been forever changed in this magical land in northern Africa. We hope you too can have a transformational and rejuvenating experience.
Come join us for a Cultural, Spiritual and Educational Retreat for Nurses!
September 18th - 25th 2021
Marrakesh, Agafy Desert and Essaouira, Morocco
You will spend three days and nights in the magical city of Marrakesh visiting its vibrant markets, sacred spaces and historical sites. Each day will incorporate meditation and tailored lectures.
A traditional riad, which is an historically stately home converted into a garden hotel, which preserves the distinctive Maghribi aesthetic (see pictures below).
You will spend one night far away from the bustle of city life, under a blanket of stars, in the beautiful Agafy Desert.
A traditional luxury desert camp.
You end your Moroccan journey with three days and nights in the blissful beach town of Essaouira known for its rich musical heritage. Each day will include yoga and other self care for nursing professionals (including pool time).
A serene villa with a pool where you can relax and contemplate the journey you have had and the journey to come.
Includes transport from to and from the airport, seven nights of mid-upper range lodging, two meals a day, excursions, lectures with CEs, meditation, and yoga ( four days of practice). The lodging is based on double occupancy. If a single room is desired, a single supplement of $300.00 is available.
**This does not include airfare. See terms and conditions for exclusions.
$2750.00 Early Bird Pricing if $500 deposit put down before 6/1/2021.
Treat yourself to this beautiful and intoxicating Moroccan Retreat led by trusted and experienced professionals!
Your Group Leaders -
Courtney Erwin is an American-born lawyer, religious scholar and host of her own Arabic TV show, "Hello Morocco with Coco." A Sufi living in Rabat, she co-leads tours throughout Morocco.
Nicole Johnson is an ICU nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center in Washington State. She is also a podcaster and entrepreneur who leads and designs self-care retreats for nurses.
***All participants must agree to the Terms and Conditions supplied by Unwound Retreats available for review at the bottom of the page***
****dates for 2022 will be 9/17-9/24/2022***
lodging, prices and itinerary are being reviewed and are subject to change. Official launch date will be in December 2021.
Market (Medina) in Marrakesh
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.
If you have a condition or are taking medication that weakens your immune system, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions.
Who can come on the program?
The program is open to nurses and and their friends.
The most important criterion is “fit.” This retreat is intended for nurses and their friends who are seeking a cultural, spiritual and educational experience in a country that offers an immersion in a heady mix of history, literature, religions, art, spirituality, and politics different from one’s own. It is a retreat for those seeking the adventure of both an inner and outer journey.
Do I receive CEs for the trip?
Do I have to be in the United States to participate?
No. Participants from countries around the world are welcome. If you do not wish to start in North America, you can meet us at the beginning date in the program.
Is there an age requirement?
Yes, we invite participants 22 and older to join the retreat. However, there will be a fair amount of walking through small alleys and crowded streets under the heat of the sun. Participants should fit enough to handle that amount of walking.
What languages are spoken in Morocco?
Morocco has a rich linguistic heritage. The main language on the street is the Moroccan dialect of formal Arabic, called darijah, though many Moroccans also speak French. In the North, Spanish is also spoken, and across the country, in certain communities, indigenous Amazigh (Berber) languages are spoken. Most Moroccans understand formal Arabic. More and more, Moroccans are learning English, though it is not as common as French. A few words in darijah, formal Arabic, or French go a long way.
What is religion in Morocco?
Morocco’s predominant religion is Sunni Islam. There is an indigenous Jewish population, located mainly in Casablanca with historical centers in Fez, Marrakesh, Tangier, Chefchaouen, and Essaouira. Christian communities are comprised mostly of Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans.
Do I need a visa?
Many nationalities (American, Canadian, European, Arab League, and African Union) can obtain a 3 month visa at arrival at the airport (no cost).
What is the cuisine like? Is it vegetarian and vegan friendly?
Moroccan food is delicious and heavily meat, fish, and bread based. It is usually made from scratch and with healthy, local ingredients.
Breakfast is typically an assortment of homemade breads with butter, honey, and jams, accompanied by fruit and yogurt and eggs on request. There is always tea and the traditional mint tea (with or without sugar).
Lunch is usually a traditional sandwich (such as ma’quda, which is fried potatoes with roasted peppers and a spicy sauce), bowl of lentils or harira (traditional tomato based soup), assortment of salads, or a type of tagine (a type of meat, fish, or chicken and vegetables cooked in a traditional clay pot over fire).
Dinner is usually a type of tagine or couscous (semolina topped with vegetables, chicken or meat) or another typical Moroccan dish (usually involving vegetables and a type of meat). Dessert is typically a platter of fruit and traditional Moroccan pastries.
Each city has its specialties. In Essaouira, the seafood is fresh and delicious, while Marrakesh is known for a slow roasted meat dish called Tangia.
Courtney follows a mostly vegan, non-gluten, low-sugar diet and does just fine. Most dishes can be made vegetarian and fruit and salads are plentiful. Though breakfast can be a challenge for the gluten-free due to the amount of bread, riads are happy to make accommodations.
In most riads and restaurants, it is fine to drink the tap water. However, many visitors to the country prefer to drink bottled water, which is plentiful OR to bring a thermos with a filter.
Be prepared for copious amounts of traditional mint tea (green tea steeped with fresh mint and, if don’t specific “no sugar”, an extraordinary amount of sugar).
Meal times are generally later in Morocco than in the US and are very flexible. While Americans may be accustomed to eating lunch at noon, Moroccans usually eat much later (2:30pm) and dinner around 8pm or 9pm. We will do our best to have mealtimes that work for most people.
Alcohol is readily available in most upscale restaurants and lodgings. Public displays of drunkenness is not tolerated.
What kind of places will we be staying in?
We will stay in elegant traditional lodging of different types. In Marrakesh, we will stay in a riad, which is a traditional stately home that has been converted into a “garden hotel.” In Agafy, we will stay in a luxury desert camp (think camel caravans). And, in Essaouira, we will stay in a retreat-style lodge. All of our accommodations are four-star.
If eating a meal in the riad or lodge, it is important to alert the staff at least 12-24 hours in advance. This is so that the kitchen staff can go to the market to buy ingredients to order and then prepare them in the traditional, time-intensive style.
What is the money situation?
Moroccan currency is called the dirham and hovers around 10dhs for every one dollar. There are banks and cash machines everywhere, so it is recommended to alert your bank to your travels and take out dirhams at local cash machines as needed. You can bring US dollars as a back up; they can be exchanged at any bank or exchange center and some vendors/restaurants accept them. Morocco is a largely cash-based society. While upscale restaurants, cafes, and fancier shops will accept credit cards, taxis and tips for services and local restaurants only accept cash.
Most meals cost around 150dhs ($15), coffee is around $2, a 1 liter bottle of water is around $1, a traditional ceramic bowl is around $10-15, a traditional Moroccan “djellaba” (loose fitting robe) is around $20, traditional carpets between $50-800 (depending on size and quality), a half liter of Argan oil (for cooking) is $6-8.
Internet and Electricity
There is free WiFi at the airports and train stations as well as in more upscale restaurants and cafes. All lodgings have free wifi. However, Wifi in Morocco is not great and can be spotty, especially in more remote areas (such as the Agafy Desert) and the small “medinas” or ancient, walled areas of the cities (such as the Medina of Marrakesh). If you want good internet connection no matter where you are, you should make arrangements for international connection/roaming with your telecom provider or buy a local SIM card at the airport upon arrival. You should also download Google Maps or another navigation application so you can find your way around the cities should you want to do some solo exploration.
In Morocco the standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz
Morocco is 8 or 9 hours ahead of Seattle, 5 or 6 hours ahead of New York, and on the same time zone as London half the year, and Paris the other half (Morocco does not do “Daylight Saving Time”).
This means that if you are flying from Seattle to Morocco, you will need to leave the day before the official start date of the program (i.e., you will leave Seattle on a Friday and arrive in Morocco on a Saturday). When you depart Morocco, you will arrive in Seattle on the same day (i.e., if you leave Morocco on Friday, you will arrive in Seattle on Friday).
Safety and “Getting Lost”
By and large, Morocco is a safe country. There is little-to-no gun violence (private possession of arms is illegal). While violent crime does exist in Morocco, it is not prevalent (1.42 homicide cases per 100,000 individuals as of 2018). Petty crime (pick pocketing, scams, street harassment) does occur in touristic locations so it is prudent to be alert in busy areas and at night. There have been isolated terrorist attacks (2003, 2007, 2011, 2019) and a number of Moroccans have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State. In response, the government has enhanced internal security, with police and military maintaining a visible and constant presence on the streets throughout the country and with the installation of cameras in many public spaces. Women do incur a fair amount of harassment by youths on the street, which is by and large verbal and does not extend to any physical contact (both verbal and physical harassment are prosecutable under the law).
The medinas, or the ancient and traditionally walled areas of cities in Morocco, are like labyrinths; little alleys filled with vegetables and hanging meat carcasses and motos and sheep. It is not unusual to get lost or have no idea where you are going in the first place. The best thing to do is surrender to joy of being lost and have faith that you will be found. It is also advisable to ask directions from women OR men who are “attached” to a place (i.e. behind a stall or at a shop or cafe). Kids and youth will often tell you that an alley is “closed” and then lead you on a spiral to nowhere and ask for money for “helping you”. Politely thank them for their offer and act like you know exactly where you are going (whether you do or not) and then ask directions.
In cities, restaurants and cafes have Western-style toilets. In more traditional spaces, squat toilets are the norm. It is recommended to always carry toilet paper, tissues, and wet wipes/hand sanitizer with you.
Any clothing requirements?
September is generally very warm so comfortable, light, cotton clothes are best. Always bring layers, just in case, and comfortable shoes. Hats, bathing suits, sunscreen. In case we find ourselves in a traditional space, it is always good to have a scarf and something that goes to the wrists and ankles. Outside of our lodging and the beach, cleavage, tank tops, and shorts can be uncomfortable for everyone.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon.
It is polite to ask people that you don’t know if they mind whether you take their picture or not. Some people become very upset if you take their photo without asking first.
Morocco is very much a tipping culture. In restaurants and cafes, it is customary to leave 10 percent. One can tip staff at riads if they are moved to do so. Porters and drivers are also given around 5-10 percent. Anyone who does a “service” often receives some amount in a tip. It is also very common to give dirhams to folks on the street in vulnerable circumstances.
How much “free” time do we have?
We will try to make sure that every day there will be at least a few hours of unstructured time to give you an opportunity to explore these magical cities on your own. Morocco can be pretty intense, so having down time—and knowing yourself and your needs—is really important.
For Further Information:
The Lonely Planet is always a good resource for general information about the country. The US Embassy in Morocco’s website has updated travel information and World Nomads also has updated information about travel safety in Morocco.