Riad Hikaya…Balm of Beauty

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. ― Rumi

It is very, very difficult to feel sad for long in Morocco, because you can never be alone in Morocco. You are surrounded by beauty…It really is a place, I think, that nourishes the soul.–John Pittaway

A picture from Persian poetry, gorgeous girls in red swung open a heavy, studded door. They beckoned me over a threshold for refuge from the dust, glare, and chaos of the Kasbah. Immediately taking my overnight bag, their attention turned to relieving me of the burden my face and body still carried.
“Welcome. Please sit. Would you like some tea?”
Like Dorothy, swept into a black-and-white Kansas cyclone, then dropped into Technicolor Oz, I had been disoriented by a painful situation but, upon landing in a dream,  became distracted from it by beauty. The terra cotta maze of the medina had morphed into a sanctuary of ruby, aqua, green and gold.
IMG_9604
IMG_9606

IMG_9603

Marian and Hakema


IMG_8635
IMG_8576
IMG_8591
IMG_8590
IMG_8587 IMG_8588 IMG_8586 IMG_8585
IMG_8558
IMG_8632
IMG_8550
IMG_8539
IMG_8553
I had read that everything I saw on walls and floors, sat on, sat under had been designed by Jane and John Pittaway, English owners of Riad Hikaya, and handcrafted by Marrakshi artisans. I spoke with John that afternoon who studied Arabic at University and also speaks French, Spanish, and the local Moroccan dialect, Darija. Though he has lived in many parts of the Middle East including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates before moving to Marrakech, we discussed what makes this place unique…the creativity which brims here…. the tension of chaos and tranquility…the balm of beauty that banishes bad.

By dinner on the rooftop under a full moon, I was fully settled in the Rahma suite (Arabic word for compassion)– able to breathe; to let go; to accept, see and savor the gifts of kindness and peace around me.  Not only had the girls turned back my bed, sprinkling rose petals on the duvet and in the tub…not only had Fadoua fed me fresh Tabouleh, the best Lamb CousCous I’ve had, and Celebration Orange and Chocolate Cake which, trust me, is reason alone to celebrate…but Sana, at my request, stopped serving and sat down for a chat over dessert.
The next morning the moon was gone.  The sun met me on the rooftop instead.  After breakfast and a read in the jacuzzi,  I told the girls bye. I left again grateful for the kindness of strangers-now-friends.  I remembered John’s words of a 2-year planned renovation that took five years instead.  So true of life in many ways: “Anything is possible…It was an interesting journey..a way of learning.”

IMG_8565

(from the website) Rahma, (Arabic for compassion), is situated on the first floor of the riad overlooking the smaller, mirrored courtyard.The traditional bed, fashioned from tadelakt and zelij, is framed by a hand carved ‘muqarbas’, or bedhead, with an ornate zowwaq finish. Cactus silk curtains line the tadelakt walls and frame the artisanal, wooden shutters. Hand painted plaster motifs, soft kelim armchairs and vintage berber carpets complete the luxurious feel.


IMG_8579
IMG_8626
IMG_8575
IMG_8563
IMG_8566

Hand painted tadelakt bath and a monsoon shower crafted from zelij and maillechort, a metal favoured by Marrakshi artisans which in English is known as nickel silver


IMG_8620
IMG_8602

IMG_8615

IMG_8618

Sana


IMG_8611 IMG_8609 IMG_8619
IMG_8642 IMG_8638
IMG_8639
IMG_8643
IMG_8623
IMG_8584
IMG_8634

Fresh roses


IMG_8628
IMG_8629 IMG_8631
IMG_8637
IMG_8636

A thing of beauty is a joy forever;

Its loveliness increases…it still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.–John Keats

What a difference a day makes.  Thanks to Riad Hikaya for the stay.  As always, the opinions here are my own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: