Nothing could have prepared me for Rebali Riads.
The car crept along the road and the tiny village of Sidi Kaouki came into view. A string of small guest houses, three restaurants, and a standalone cement room spray painted with “les legumes <——“ (the vegetables) comprised the town center. We’ll visit that treasure trove later. For now, the car pulls up to the walled entrance of Rebali Riads and Mohammed, the caretaker and manager leans out of the carved door waving a warm welcome.
He helps us with our bags along the perfectly manicured pathway. I hear birds singing and note the tricolor bougainvillea is braided and grows like the tresses of Rapunzel down the sides of the cream colored two-story buildings. Passing the tiled pool I spot two turtles making the long journey across the lawn to seek their shelter for the night.
We’d arranged a deposit to secure our two night stay, and had paid the room rate, so imagine my surprise when Mohammed opens the gate to Dar Mevada and says “this will be your villa”. I did my best not to squeal like a child with excitement. Play it cool Brandy, there’s plenty of time for luxuriating in a moment.
He points out our private heated pool and I think about fainting right into it.
Once inside the two story home he mentions that the chef will be around shortly to confirm our dietary restrictions since we’re vegans and he wants to make sure we’re happy with the menu. This is service that surpasses five stars and comes off as genuine care and concern. Rebali is winning all my favor.
Mohammed says we can have dinner on our rooftop or in this beautiful dining room.
I’m positively giddy now and am thinking about how many years we can afford to live here until our life savings run out. Likely worth it.
As we take the stairs to the rooms I note all the beautiful lamps that are tastefully chosen and well spaced. Someone has done a tremendous job and thought of all the details that make a good stay an impeccable stay.
He shows us all three bedrooms, but the master one has been made up for us — the bed, bath, and floor are strewn with fresh flower petals.
Through the bedroom doors we have stairs that either lead down to the pool and patio area which are decorated with sun loungers and a dining table, or up to the rooftop which features a traditional Moroccan sofa and a shade covering for daytime relaxation.
He tells us that at night you can see the stars for as far as the eyes will go, and hands us a star map of the sky for the month. After showing us how to use it he says he’s also got a telescope we can take advantage of to get the best visibility. I can’t think of anything more amazing to end the perfect night, and tell him so. Mohammed has a gentle manner that leaves you feeling like a close friend rather than a guest — in fact he refused our tips and said “we are friends now”.
A discreet figure appears in the dining hall and slips away like a shadow leaving a silver teapot and two pastries in her wake. “Here is your afternoon tea and vegan cookies that the chef has made with dark chocolate for you.” I am seriously slipping into heaven and am already racking my brain for dates to return.
After our evening swim someone comes to light our fireplace while we’re getting ready for dinner. The chef enters and we start with a fresh and crisp Moroccan salad: tomatoes, red onions, green pepper, argan oil and the perfect pinch of salt come together in this traditional appetizer. M’ziean – amazing.
Shortly they float in and clear the plates from appetizers and bring the main course — a gigantic platter of vegan couscous. The pile of fluffy, steamed couscous is layered with zucchini, garbanzos, eggplant, carrots, and turnips. We eat by candlelight and have barely any room left over for the bananas flambé. Moroccan hospitality and cuisine is such that you’re likely to be in a true food coma afterwards — quantity and quality is the Moroccan way.
We slip into bed after gazing at the stars and far off air turbines which dot the horizon with tiny red lights. Sleep comes easily in this comfortable home and morning brings another day of luxury.
Breakfast is served poolside and we’re treated to only vegan items once again. Pancakes, toast, kiwi, banana and perfectly ripe pears. Tomatoes and cucumbers with salt and pepper. Fresh strawberry jam, preserved orange peel and fig jelly. Maddy indulges in his new favorite: mint tea and I subsist off my coffee at first. A pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice tempts me and we spend at least an hour leisurely breakfasting — an art I perfected in Spain — until we absolutely must drag ourselves back to the computer, after all, we are working. We alternate between working in the living room, dining room, rooftop, and the incredibly soft and comfy beds.
A few hours of work pass in a flash, we decide to work through lunch since breakfast was plenty, and it’s high time we paid the wild beach a visit. Just two minutes walk from our villa lands us right at the shore — did I forget to mention this place has stupendous ocean views? — hardly anyone is in sight save for a few surfers who will disappear along with the setting sun.
We come across a stray dog who leads us to her pups and imagine a life where we stay right here in Sidi Kaouki and adopt all the street animals. Being able to architect a life like this is exactly the whole point of digital nomadism, and we come to the powerful realization that we have the ability to do this if we want. It’s a freeing, profound, and beautiful thing and we relish in the idea.
Though our future home is unsettled one thing is for sure — we’re going to take advantage of the fact our villa has a kitchen, so we head to the small shop “Les Legumes” and check it out.
Crates of fresh tomatoes, oranges with the stem and leaves attached, large red potatoes pockmarked and covered in dirt sit next to a bin of beans that has just passed their prime.
Maddy and I grab a few carrots so large my fingers barely wrap around them, a couple tomatoes for stewing plus two for salad, a petite green pepper, a few of the smaller potatoes, a red onion which will later make me cry, and a handful of peas.
Add to this two rounds of freshly baked bread and 1.5 liters of water. We pay 22 dirhams, or 2 euro 20 cents and have the ultimate luxury of cooking for ourselves — after weeks on the road the control freak in me really wants the meditation of slicing, peeling, chopping, stirring, and singing. There couldn’t be a better setting than Rebali.
The kitchen in our villa is well equipped with a five burner stove and we relish in the ambiance. We light the thoughtfully provided candles, the fireplace loudly crackles in the next room and the Bluetooth connection and the WiFi decide to work together (which can be a rarity in rural Morocco) and we’re able to stream some classical music to fill the spaciousness of our home for the evening.
A home cooked meal in a spectacular setting with the person you love is a treasure; we both fall asleep knowing that our real lives are better than any dream that may come…
Settling into Rebali feels like slipping into a silk dressing gown; it’s soothing, intimate, and looks good on you.
They left two thoughtful gifts of Moroccan slipper keychains filled with small pieces of amber so we can always carry a piece of Rebali with us. Now we’ve hooked them on our luggage and spill the secret of our favorite coastal Moroccan holiday to people we’re meeting on the road.
Rebali Riads was our gracious host for the two nights, but my opinion of them couldn’t have been bought for thousands of dollars. This is truly my favorite place I’ve ever stayed — in the whole world — and I’ll return for many years to come.