Surf Morocco – behind the scenes
Hosting your own Bed & Breakfast next to the beach – doesn’t it sound like the perfect job OUT OF OFFICE? While sitting in her current nomad office, the reception area of Surf Maroc, Katrin started talking to Stefan, the host of L’Auberg. He is only 28, quit his job and left the UK to start working out of office. An interview to catch a glimpse behind the scenes.
Why are you here, why Morocco?
To be honest, after having a crashcourse in life, this was the first spot where I got an attractive job offer. The only thing I was very sure about was that I wanted a job that fits with my passion of surfing. And due to the fact that a quarter of my blood is Moroccan I just took the chance. Back to the roots!
How does your typical day look like? Is there one?
The first three weeks I was just around to get the rhythm: To understand the guests’ needs, to understand how the surfing is organised within Surf Maroc and to learn about accommodation services. When I came in here the management wanted me to get new ideas in, of course. Now every day life differs a lot. I start around 7.30 am and work until noon. Then usually I come back at 4 pm in the afternoon and stay until whatever time is needed. Doing so six days a week makes approximately 60 hours a week. But spending 60 hours a week running L’Auberge is not approximately that exhausting than 50 hours of my former quite proper paid sales job.
You’ll have to love improvisation while running a place like this in Morocco. You know: In Shala – meaning „if God is willing“ – is always a “maybe”. I had to find my way dealing with this way of live. What works is to insist hard. So when you really want to make things happen, you have to tell people „Allah will!“
You said, one reason for you to come here was your passion about surfing. Honestly, how often can you arrange to do so?
Usually I go out every day. But you know, surfing is all about the moment. So you always have to adjust to the present conditions – it’s about being in the right place at the right time. But due to the fact that I have been a lifeguard in the past I know the ocean very well and can adjust very quickly.
I was here for a Yoga Surf Retreat. It is quite popular at the moment to put these both together. What do you as a Non-Yogi think about that?
Surfing is like meditation. I tell you a short story that describes best what I mean by this: I was out in the water with a sales manager that never surfed before. I was surfing – he was bodyboarding. He was asking, „What are you thinking?“„Nothing“, I answered. That’s it. A wave has travelled 4.000 to 5.000 km before it breaks. So every wave has an own story, is completely unique. For me this is totally mystical and therefore a moment of pure presence each time. Or even an honour towards a unique moment. And all of them are, for sure…
Speaking so you seem like a true ambassador of surfing. Have you ever thought about working as a surf instructor instead of running the hostel?
No! I wanna have every single wave I choose for myself. I don’t wanna share it. It’s about total selfishness, yes. But as I leave this manner out in the water I’m not selfish at all in my everyday life, I guess. So, my conclusion is: Everybody should go surfing and the world would be a much better one – but there are others who can teach this!
What about women & surfing in Morocco?
It’s a matter of fact: Morocco is Muslim based. Even when Mohammed VI liberated several things – for example, the right for women to get divorced is only 10 years old. But we still talk about tolerance not about acceptance! And this won’t change so quickly, I think. Not as long as you still have to be married as a local to get a shared bed in Morocco.
Have their ever been any bad experiences to female guests?
Well, not really. It’s still not common here to be out alone in the night. Women then quite often have to deal with some bad comments from local men. And there are different ways women deal with such things. I think the best way to handle those situations is to go straight ahead. But Surf Maroc is a well-known place here and it’s also a place that creates business in the neighbourhood. So usually our guests are treated very well.
Some say, expats life is kind of a bubble. What about the relationship to the locals? Are there special arrangements between locals and expats?
Haha, I can’t tell you much about the forbidden but done things – because that is the arrangement! But at least it’s the same like in other places – behind closed doors everything can happen (smiling). There is, of course, a very special relationship to alcohol – it can become priority now and then. But as Taghazout is a quite touristic place I don’t have real local insights yet. Yes, if you are an expat, you can stay in this bubble. Hanging out with locals is not very easy, because it’s still a culture clash by all means. So if you wish to, you have to integrate yourself and always show respect. But then you are very welcome. And of course this is much easier for men though…
L’Auberge is set up quite well. And kind of hip, too, if I may say so. How long do you expect to stay here?
This place is run as L’Auberge for more than six years now. And it costs great efforts to set it up the way it is. Due to numerous host changes there was a little loss of atmosphere within the last years. Now I am trying to bring it back. The plan is to stay here basically for one to two years. I’m a big fan of the unknown, therefore I will probably leave somewhen. With one restriction: The only way is south!
Is there anything you want to share with all the people out there in the world?
If anybody reads that and asks, shall I get out of office my answer would be: If you ask the question to yourself, there is already a door half open – push it! Don’t think twice!