I am a 52-year old Scot and my wife, 43, is from Argentina. We have two very young children, Gaia (5) and Isaac (4). I am a jack-of-all-trades and have been many things in life, from soldier to TV presenter. I met my love in Ibiza where she had settled temporarily. We were both big travellers before meeting one another and still are, although there's less time for such things now.
For ten years now we've been building an eco-lodge in Morocco with our fisherman and farmer neighbours, just 15kms north of Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast.
The Eco-Lodge lies between Azrou Issa and Al Faida, two small fishing and farming communities. Life is hard here and with less and less rain, and fewer fish in the ocean, it's getting harder. Many families have already left the land and gone to live in the town. There are almost 40 small families left, farming approx 100 hectares between them and grazing their goats, sheep and cows in the huge forest behind. The land does not produce enough and the forest is being overgrazed.
We are running a long term project to regenerate the farmland and the forest behind using permaculture, holistically managed grazing, aqua-ponics and any other good ideas. The aim was to build a sustainable and profitable future for them, and us, and in so doing, to learn what works and what doesn't work in such a semi arid landscape before taking this knowledge to other places. To this end we started the UK-based charity, which will exist to support, fund (where necessary) and guide this cooperative, and others after it, towards economic and social sustainability.
The permaculture project is only just beginning and is ‘from scratch’.
We do not need volunteers all year round and sometimes we are looking only for volunteers with specific skills.
We provide food and bed. We do not provide ANY work clothes. Gloves are provided only if the work really needs them for safety reasons (lime, etc).
It can be quite cold if the wind is from the east so bring warm clothes and strong shoes.
The area: The beach is 800m away. Moulay Bouzergtoun, a small village and one of the best windsurfing spots in the world, is 4km away. Essaouira, the nearest town, is 15kms along the beach (3 hrs walk) or an easy 15-minute walk up the hill and 30 min hitch hike along the coast road. It has a beautiful old medina and fishing port. It’s all quite touristy now but there is lots to do and see: music festivals, kite surfing, surfing and windsurfing, horse riding, etc. We buy our food at the fantastic weekend farmers’ market at Had’draa. Marrakech is 200km away.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
You will be working alongside the local Moroccans and how much cultural exchange you wish will be entirely up to you; they are extremely hospitable.
RIGHT NOW (DECEMBER 2019 - APRIL 2020) WE ARE ONLY LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS WHO CAN HELP US WITH THE CHILDREN AND WITH FINISHING THE LODGE. WOODWORKING EXPERIENCE WILL BE PARTICULARLY WELCOME. I AM AFRAID I SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE TIME TO TEACH BASIC WOODWORKING SKILLS.
Volunteers will be accommodated either in a bell tent, in the lodge, or in the original farmhouse. Cooking and eating and relaxing will be in the house. Water is scarce and strictly rationed The well water is good to drink. We are not vegetarian but different diets are not a problem. Volunteers will be expected to help with cooking and general housework.
We provide food, a mattress and a pillow. We do not provide sheets, blankets, towels or ANY work clothes. Gloves are provided only if the work really needs them for safety reasons (lime, etc).
Please be aware that, although we live comfortably, this is not a luxury option! Also that we have a lot to achieve and want to host hard-working and mature people only. You don't have to be super fit but there will some walking involved and over rough terrain. My wife and I are so busy there that we do not go into town unless it is absolutely necessary and therefore in your time off you will be responsible for your own transport, which means walking or bicycling. You are welcome to bring a car but the project vehicle cannot be borrowed.
Although we do have internet, but it's not fast and sometimes it's so slow it's not worth using at all. Do not expect to be able to watch much Youtube or download anything bigger than 100Mb. It's fine for emailing, Whatsapp, etc, and Skype is ok sometimes.
Although only 15kms north of Essaouira along the beach, the house is quite remote in that it is difficult to reach by normal car. There is a rough vehicle track to the road or a more direct donkey track uphill through the forest. The quickest way to town is to walk up this (a beautiful 15min walk) and then hitch hike. Or it takes 3hrs to walk along the beach to Essaoiura. By vehicle along the track and then the road is 30kms/45 mins.
In your time off you have the beach and the forest to explore, the locals to interact with, and a few cafe's in the village of Moulay Bouzergtoun which is about 4kms away. If you are a good windsurfer this is one of the best places in the world, home of the world famous Boujmaa Guilloul.
Essaouira is a beautiful, old, walled medina with a busy fishing harbour and lots to see and do (windsurfing, kite surfing, horse riding, cultural stuff, etc). It's very touristy now. There's also a fantastic farmers market at Had'dra every weekend that we go to for our food.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
25 hours maximum