Ibulliance: Savoring Serendipity

On the outskirts of the city of Marrakech, our group gathers for dinner at a beautifully-laid table, brimming with roses and candles. A trio of musicians play traditional melodies as the sun slowly sets behind the Atlas foothills in the distance. Our host, Meryanne Loum-Martin—Ibu ambassador and proprietor of our boutique accommodations, Jnane Tamsna—welcomes us with her radiant smile and wonderful stories of how she made her home in Marrakech, and the fortuitous connection with Ibu founder Susan Hull Walker some 20 years ago. We take turns around the table, sharing our impressions of the country and culture we have experienced so far, and express excitement for what is still to come on our Fringe Road journey.

The following day, we step into Aya’s in the mellah of the Marrakech medina, where Ibu partner Naoual el Hariti invites us inside her gorgeous shop, brimming with swoon-worthy hand-embroidered caftans and tunics made by women artisans in Ourika. In the midst of the frenzy, a beaming young woman is helping answer questions and providing additional sizes. She is Noor, Naoual’s daughter, who is home from her fashion studies in Nice to intern in her mother’s shop. She shares with us some of her sketches and ideas for a more modern fashion line, yet still shows deep appreciation for the heritage and skills of the women who craft the clothing of Aya’s. We envision in her the next generation of designers celebrating their past and their future. 


Leaving Aya’s, we travel 30 minutes to the town of Ourika, where several women greet us and share their handcraft, with Naoual’s uncle and Noor helping to interpret and explain more of the embroidery techniques we see in action. After a short visit, we are led into a courtyard with a bountiful table of tagines boasting fish, chicken, and vegetables, freshly-made bread, couscous, and Naoual’s self-proclaimed famous salad. It is an honor to be graciously included in this homemade feast as Naoual flutters around us making sure we want for nothing. When it is time to head back to Marrakech, hugs and kisses are bestowed all around and we depart with a sense of new connection and respect.

Our last evening in Morocco, we gather with Meryanne for a stunning farewell. She invites us into her home for a toast to our magical experience. In the twilight, we find ourselves at another plein-air dinner party, where we reflect on the people we have met and how the experience has changed us. From the powerful efforts of Wafae and Amina to provide life-changing opportunities to the women of Cherry Buttons; to the eye-opening history shared by our guide, Saida; and the fantastic adventures of Alice Morrison, we have gained a new perspective on the Moroccan people. Through the delicious feast thoughtfully prepared by Naoual and her team, and the gracious hospitality of Meryanne, we understand the communion and connection that blossoms over a shared meal. When, as humans, we open ourselves to these encounters, our worlds become a little closer-knit, and we can delight in the serendipity of it all.

Shukran Lak!

Lasley Steever
Chief Marketing Officer, Ibu