Fountain at the Yves Saint Laurent garden

Doing What I Can To Be Stress Free On Launch Day

April 10 — It was nice to wake up where I’ll be spending the day. However, it’s a work day. Not just any Monday, but the first day of my virtual summit! I’ll have to wait for hours to make sure it goes off without any issues. Just a bit hard to relax while I’m waiting for 5pm local time.

I might be the first to wake up. I’m certainly the first at the breakfast table. The coffee isn’t good so I quickly switch from coffee to mint tea. Let’s be real though, I would have been drinking it at some point even if the coffee was good. There is also orange juice. I don’t drink orange juice because I don’t like pulp (it’s the whole texture thing). If OJ is your thing you’ll love it here. It’s freshly squeezed everywhere.

When more people arrive to the table the woman servant brings out an assortment of breads and what might be considered a Moroccan pancake. I’m not sure how else to describe it. If you are low-carb, no carb, or gluten free the struggle will be more than real. Seriously, good luck.

Fortunately, I love bread. Too bad I also like variety. The regular bread was fine, but the pancake not so much. There was a third option and I wasn’t at all interested. How many ways can you switch up the same dough with no flavor?

A few of us are going into a co-working space this morning. Even though four of us could fit into a cab we have to take two separate cabs. Again the negotiations begin. Thank goodness it wasn’t me. I don’t mind negotiating for things I don’t need. I do mind when it is something I need.

The workstation internet is better than the riad. At least at times. I’ve noticed the art is beautiful here too. Very modern and progressive for the country. While I’m working these men start talking to me. Small talk. Then it turns into how beautiful I am. How am I alone? How long will I be in Marrakesh? Seriously? This is a co-working space. It’s not at all appropriate.

Being upstairs by myself made me feel more uncomfortable. I quickly packed up my things and went downstairs where the other Roamers were. Back in the States these types of things don’t often happen to me. People, men especially, don’t freely speak to me. I don’t have an inviting look about me. In this case I wished these men would have picked up on it.

Repeating the story I had some people say that could have easily happened in the States. Yes, but it didn’t. Also, there I’m on my own turf. Here I’m not and feel at a disadvantage. There is an advantage to something uncomfortable happening in a place you feel comfortable versus somewhere you don’t. We didn’t stay much longer after and left to have fun for the day.

Apparently we were early to lunch because we were the only people there. The menu was full of the usual, tajine and couscous. I’ve had the couscous a couple times now and it looks and tastes exactly the same no matter where you go. I decided to try the Moroccan salad. It is not at all what you would think.

When the waiter came to deliver our food he was standing behind me. He placed one 4x4 plate in front of me and described it to me. I could not understand him. Immediately I was sorry for what I had ordered. There was no way this little appetizer “salad” was going to cut it for lunch.

Another Roamer must have noticed the disappointed look on my face because he told me not to worry, there was more coming. He wasn’t joking. There were 11 more plates coming. How is this a salad? It was more like an appetizer buffet except I didn’t have to get up and serve myself.

The Roamer across from me ordered the same thing and our plates took up the entire side of the table. We were all having fun taking pictures of the plates. I was just glad I wasn’t the only person amused by this event. What was even funnier is that you could clearly tell we have opposite tastes. The plates we finished were almost exactly opposite.

Moroccan salad

We left the still empty restaurant and headed to the Yves Saint Laurent garden. I didn’t even know it existed until we were on our way. Clearly it was a big tourist attraction because there was a line. Maybe this is where people are instead of lunch.

Walking into the gardens I was completely mesmerized. The cobalt blue everywhere is so powerful. Immediately I remembered the little statue I saw in France, also cobalt blue. I wanted to touch it so badly. Coincidentally, the artist of the statue was Yves Klein.

I started taking pictures of everything I could. In order to do so I had to wait for others to get their photos taken because it was so crowded. I began to notice the couples and people taking pictures of each other. This was not the time or place to remember I’m alone. Then something extraordinary happened.

One of the new Roamers is a photographer and studied art. He is extremely knowledgeable with impeccable taste. Although I’ve only been around him for a short time each time I do I learn so much, not only from what he says, but also from how he does things. Also, he is an absolute gentleman. Seriously. Not a common breed and nothing he does goes unnoticed. Which is exactly why when he took a photo of me I felt extraordinary.

I’ve watched him take photos of people and things as they catch his eye. Not just an ordinary eye. The eye of a photographer and artist. He must have seen something about the way I looked or the way I was standing. Possibly the backdrop. Whatever it was doesn’t matter. I’ll never forget the way I felt in that moment.

Of course, tears began to well up and I was thankful I was wearing my sunglasses. I was able to fight back the tears. These weren’t sad tears. They were tears of overwhelm. Another final photo of our group of four and I was glad I have something more to remember the day.

Back at the riad we talked to the other Roamers about their day and did light rooftop working complete with wine, cocktails, strawberries and almonds. The strawberries here aren’t only super huge and sweet, they are also super cheap. What we buy here for the equivalent of $1 US would be $10–15 US and not nearly as good.

It’s getting closer to launch time and my computer is dying. I go to charge it and realize I left my adaptor at the workspace. Ugh. In my hurry to leave the upstairs working space I forgot to grab it. Not a total big deal. One of the other Roamers allows me to use his.

I’m getting more and more nervous as the clock ticks down to launch time. Then just as 5 o’clock hits and my summit goes live our internet crashes. We get a message that appears to be from the government. It’s also prayer time so could that be it? Did we all use up whatever this riad bought? Whatever the reason doesn’t matter. I can’t test my own summit!

My hotspot isn’t working and I’m trying my phone but it’s so slow. I begin texting my family back home to have them test it for me. Twenty-four minutes after the summit went live I learn it’s up, live, and the emails went out. Now I can breathe. Me and another Roamer take a shot of vodka.

I’ll be good for the night now. Probably a good thing too because not only did I have internet issues, later I would see the biggest cockroach of my life in the bathroom. It was like a small mouse! Again no one heard my scream but I couldn’t let it go. I asked whoever is not afraid of bugs to kill it. We never found it. Me and my roommate zipped up all of our things before heading out. I wonder how I’ll sleep tonight knowing it’s loose.

Tonight we’re going to the plaza. It’s a huge tourist attraction with food, shops, vendors, street performers, you name it. The problem is I can’t stand it. They are very aggressive. The group wants to eat street food and I have no desire. I’d rather eat at a restaurant with a balcony view. I see several of them close by. No one else is game.

I’m not at all opposed to street food. However, I like my meals to be an experience. Dinner is the last meal of the day and I don’t want this to be my last experience. For other Roamers having street food was the experience so I wanted to be mindful of their feelings too. I ate it and all I can say is it was terrible.

Basically vendors have assigned booth numbers even though all the food is the same. Any booth ending in 7 is going to take you to “heaven”. Others had sayings too. I only remembered that one because we seemed to pass a lot of booths ending in seven.

The guys trying to get you to eat are not only super pushy and aggressive but very smart and shysters. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the number of languages they spoke and well. By any means and any language necessary they want you to eat there. It’s not exactly a bait and switch. It’s a get’em to sit, serve food they don’t ask for, and make up the prices as you go along.

Our meal was nothing special and of course included couscous. They charged us way too much and we weren’t able to negotiate them down. I didn’t bother because I had bigger issues of my own. I paid my portion and left.

My third and final video of the day for the summit didn’t go live. I needed to get back to the riad and get on my computer. The group is going out dancing and there is no way I can enjoy myself. It’s not a long walk back and I feel perfectly safe to go alone. I’m so frustrated right now I’d like someone to try and mess with me. I promise it would not have gone well for them. One of the Roamers walks me back anyways.

He is a really nice guy and I’m not surprised. This isn’t the first time he’s walked with me or made sure I made it home safely. He’s a smart guy, super funny, a good dancer, but definitely a man of few words. Are there men with lots of words? Although he’s not a talker he can carry a conversation and we have a nice talk which is good because I have to get my mind off this issue since there is little chance I’ll be able to resolve it.

I was right. I can’t resolve this issue. A few years ago I attended HustleCon which is an event that has huge name startup founders speak. The catch, none of them are technical founders — meaning they are not coders or developers.

The one thing all their stories had in common was dealing with problems when they first started. No one gets off the hook. The Founder of NerdWallet was talking about how he was traveling in Spain and at a hostel when his site crashed and he was trying to get it back up — and he’s not a developer or coder.

Remembering this really helped. NerdWallet is big company and he made it work. I’ll make this work. I send an email to my backend team and then go to sleep. They are several hours ahead of me so it should be fixed by the time I wake up in the morning. Surprisingly I had no trouble going to sleep.

My end of day gratitude:

  1. Beautiful gardens.
  2. Helpful and supportive Roamers.
  3. Calming myself enough to sleep. It’s a sign of growth for me.

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