We were living in Colorado Springs where my husband had a thriving medical practice. But he also had a wandering eye, and so we needed up embarking on an adventure to Morocco.
He couldn’t help himself when he saw that the Peace Corps had an opening in Africa. He used to be in the military, so we moved every couple of years. But since he’d left the army we’d created our homestead in Colorado and been living there for 5 years. So our feet were getting relatively itchy, and we are both very passionate about giving our kids the opportunity to see the world. So that’s how we ended up in Morocco.
Catching the travel bug
My Dad was an airline pilot so travel was always part of my life. But, it really started the summer after I graduated high school and went on a trip to Holland for 3 weeks. I came home with a boyfriend – who after 4 years in a long distance relationship – became my husband. So I would say that that was the spark that ignited the fire! Good thing too, because travel is a huge part of our lives.
In the army we lived in places Hawaii and Germany, and when it was time to add kids to the equation, well, I’d known from working in foster care how many children needed homes, so the decision to adopt was easy. The bigger decision was from where. Since I’d always been fascinated by Russia, and had taken some Russian in college, it just seemed to fit. ‘Mother Russia’ has a whole other meaning in our house.
Traveling with kids
Timing never is perfect. It was a HUGE adjustment for the kids, as everything here is very different. Standing in queue is a foreign concept, as is customer service, road rules and hygiene…And that’s the short list. My oldest, by far, had the most difficult time adjusting. He has started and ended many conversations with the “I hate Morocco”.
The kids schooling has been a challenge and hasn’t always met the kids needs. We’ve discussed leaving Morocco early because of it but, in the end, we decided the cultural experience was worth sticking it out.
My husband and I knew that, in the short term, this would be hard on the kids, but that in the long term it would be character building and give them a greater global perspective. We’ve done a lot of travelling outside of Morocco since we’ve been here. They have have become excellent travellers. One of our favourite things to do in a new country is go to the grocery store. It’s fascinating!
Travelling brings all those history books to life. Besides it’s a really fun adventure that brings your family closer together. This spring we finally made that second trip to Egypt, right after the revolution mind you. Coincidentally, my oldest was studying Egypt in social studies. I’d never seen him so engaged in learning before. So everywhere we went he was anxious to share everything he knew and we let him be our tour guide. He was even thirsty to know more when we got home. Seeing him so excited was worth the price of the two trips it took to get there.
On belly dancing
Before we left Colorado I was doing roller derby. I knew I’d have to give that up when we moved, and wasn’t too happy about it. So I decided I’d take up something new here. Since belly dancing originated in this part of the world I decided what better way to get some more local culture. I started the week I arrived and take a class twice a week with an Egyptian teacher I adore. I had never had a dance class before and I have never been graceful. Did I mention the classes are in French and Arabic? Despite these obstacles I learned to dance. Now I can’t listen to Arabic music sitting down and frequently dance around my house.
Because tomorrow it’s all going to change. Even if you go to the same place twice it’s never quite the same. There are always new people to meet and they can tell you far more than any guide book can. And that’s what travel is all about. Connecting.
“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams – Jimmy Carter”
About Marie Nikodem Loerzel
I’m a forty-something writer, dancer, world traveler, wife and mother of four who moved back to Colorado from living abroad in Morocco a few years ago. Oh and did I mention I have some serious social anxiety? And that I screw things up a lot? Like a whole lot.