The Ksar Char Bagh

We are wandering around this hotel so peacefully and so detached from the rest of the world that it feels like we could be anywhere; in reality, we’re in La Palmeraie, a suburb of Marrakech. The Ksar Char Bagh is a quiet retreat of luxury and contemplation in a desert setting. It’s stunning. I cannot deny that. But it feels too remote. I feel as though I have lost an important connection to the energy of Marrakech by being here. I’ve sold out to luxury. I am no longer traveling. Rather, I am entombed in rich idleness.

At one point, when we decide to venture out of the sanctity of our room, and go for a walk beyond the pool, we see blond haired, blue eyed Scandinavian tourists in moneyed sundresses sitting leisurely in the dining area. They look like colonial-era tourists, passing through, perhaps a last stop before Merzouga or Erfoud, insulated by the safety of what accommodations their money can buy. They’re drinking bottled water and wearing wide brim hats. Their faces are eternally youthful and expressionless. I wonder if others see Doug and I that way. Monied. Colonial. Impossible, I think, I hope. I am too ethnic-looking. Aren’t I?

Doug prefers these accommodations. It suits him. This is his dream hotel. And he’s actually back to being himself, though he is still suffering stomach issues (two icy mojitos the night before didn’t help).

Our private pool

Because it’s off season, we have been generously upgraded to a suite with a terrace and our own private pool, a room that typically goes for $800 a night. It’s dreamy and rich, almost too good to be true. We sunbathe sans clothes, sans bathing suits, the hot sun between our naked legs. An occasional cat prowls in, under the bushes that make private our little space.  Who says you have to cover up in Morocco?

When we’re bored, we go and sit by the main pool for a while and without asking, we are brought pink grapefruit juices in tall glasses. Doug is reading Hemingway, and I am reading yet another Mrabet book, Love with a Few Hairs, set in Tangier during the International Zone era. It’s a story about a young Moroccan man who uses magic to make a girl fall in love with him. At lunch, under the shade of Saharan palms, Doug and I rate each city and hotel we’ve been to on this trip. This spot wins it for him; mine is a toss up between El Cadi in Marrakech and Mimi Calpe in Tangier.

It’s luxurious, idle moments like this that make me feel guilty for experiencing too much pleasure. Something within me places more value on being impoverished, I guess. Or, it’s just that I prefer access to adventure. I don’t know. I don’t need as much downtime as Doug needs. The literary ennui is getting to me and I already feel driven to get back to my life and my work.

Work in the days ahead is filming my first episode of American Uproot: Madrid when I get back to Madrid, and I gotta say, I am nervous as hell. I’ve never done this before and, despite working on it for the past 6 months, I still worry about production issues. Needless to say, I have blocked out most of the worry to be able to enjoy the present. But, the quiet here is too quiet and I almost called a taxi to take me into Gueliz to go shopping. Unfortunately, by the time I thought of it it was too late.

So…if you are a sit-by-the-poolside, do-nothing-but-bask-in-the-sun kind of traveler, if deserted beaches with over-the-top personal care and service are your thing, this is the place for you. We had both lunch and dinner outside on the main hotel patio overlooking the pool and the grounds. The food and presentation were amazing. And for dinner, we got the extra added benefit of dining under a clear sky replete with stars. If you get the chance, take a walk around the grounds. They have amazing outbuildings and gardens for exploring.

Tomorrow, it’s back to Madrid, my home away from home.


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