Sheltering Sky

by Lena

elena levon photography tangier - 2

 Two shared taxis and a couple of hours later, me and Lisa finally arrived in Tangier.

She was just passing through it, but I was going to stay for another 2 days.

Lisa booked her overnight train ride and we got a cab to take us to my Riad.

Riad Dar Bargach is tucked away from the main streets, into a more authentic part of the city. When you walk into the Riad, you are welcomed by the most warm smiles from staff and mint tea. Those smiles were a breath of fresh air for me.

I felt home.

The staff and the wonderful owner, Nabil, made sure I felt this way my whole stay.

This Riad is a true gem of Tangier.

Kind and helpful staff, authentic Moroccan decor, peaceful ambiance, cozy rooms, beautiful view of the sea and mountains from the roof and delicious, homemade breakfast. All those things will make you wish you could stay longer.

The difference between how staff made me feel in here and at Riad Baraka, is like trying to compare Day to Night.

Before Lisa’s departure, she asked me if I could let her use my shower, since she had another long train journey ahead of her. I happily offered her my room and told her I’ll be waiting downstairs…

When Lisa came downstairs to say goodbye I had no idea, that when I will go back to my room I’ll get a surprise…


She made me a heart out of my own scarf and left it on the bed.

I miss you Lisa! Thank you for bringing joy and laughter into my life, amongst the trials of the road.


I loved exploring streets of the Medina and sipping my espresso at local cafe’s.

elena levon patricia tome tangier - 04

One of my favorite films was filmed here – The Sheltering Sky.

You can hear a laud cheer coming from those cafe’s.

Ecstatic and disappointed sounds, passionately intertwining into the night.

These are the voices of fans. Soccer fans.

The street food vendors, offer you delicious soup and pastry.

Knowing that artists like Paul Bowles lived here, made me want to breathe, taste and feel this city with my whole soul.

Patricia Tome is a french writer and UN worker, whom I met in Marrakech. She comes to Morocco often and has offered to show me the hidden gems of Tangier.

Tangier is probably the most diverse place of Morocco. I felt both, in Africa and Europe at the same time.

When you are in the medina you are in Morocco and as you get up high in the mountains, you are in the French Riviera…

Patricia told me a lot of Tangier stories and was very kind to invite me to an Italian restaurant for lunch.

This place is a part of Italian embassy and only the “in crowd” comes here. This was also the place, where Patricia introduced me to a famous artist, Elena Prentice, the descendant of Russian Nobility.

Patricia was staying at her villa, while working on her new book. After lunch, Elena invited me to her home.

Being Russian, myself, I couldn’t help but be in absolute awe… I had to travel all the way to Tangier, Africa to meet Russian Nobility.

“Well, this is definitely off the beaten path” – I thought, as me and Patricia were getting in her car.

The drive to Elena’s villa is beautiful. You could sense, that people of affluence live here. Patricia pointed out to a house where John Malkovich used to stay while filming “The Sheltering Sky”. As we were driving up to Elena’s home, I saw several security men with machine guns…

It turns out, that Elena’s neighbor is a brother to King of Morocco.

As I entered the villa, I was transported back in time and into Russia … days of Chekhov, Tolstoy, Anna Karenina and Tsar.

Furniture, energy and the quiet power of that time, made you think, that time-machines really do exist.

Patricia made me some coffee and we went to a rooftop terrace to watch sunset.

Afterwards all of us sat in the living room, talking about Russia, Bolsheviks, Revolution and the assassination of Russian royal family.

I told Elena, that even though they tried to destroy Nobility and class from Russia, they failed.

Her life, her family and her home are a living proof, that those things, thankfully, still do exist.

I felt incredibly honored, that the Sheltering Sky of Tangier has unveiled a part of Russia to me, that I so hoped to see someday.

Elena & Elena

Elena & Elena

Elena spoke with so much power, class and depth, that it made some of our today’s “world leaders”, sound like a bunch of kids in the kindergarten.

She was very exited to hear, that I’m on my journey back to Russia, after a 9 year absence.

Elena said: “You indeed, have chosen a very long way home”

She has invited me to her home next time I’m in Tangier.

On my last day, Nabil – owner of my Riad, invited me to have lunch with his friends.

It was a wonderful home-made treat. After a few hours of great food and great laughs, Nabil and his friends were kind enough to drive me to the Airport.

We all joked about marriage and the fact that it’s not common to see a woman traveling the world by herself.

Nabil did ask me: “So, what would it take for a man to marry someone like you?”

I answered in a very Moroccan way “He would have to buy me Jimi Hendrix, the camel

We all laughed. Although, I think Nabil was ready to go to Sahara and bring Jimi to me.

The truth is, that the man who will end up marrying me,

(if he somehow manages to survive the dating roller coaster, that is)

will be the Most Luckiest man in the world and the Unluckiest, at the same time…

And with that thought I got on a plane to Barcelona, where one very Unluckily Lucky man was already waiting for me…

Mr. Bond.

Morocco and all wonderful people whom I met here, has changed me in more ways than one.

It has been a journey of a lifetime.

At Elena’s home we told Patricia to make a wish…

You see, it’s an old Russian tradition —

If you make a wish, when you happen to be sitting/standing between two people, who share the same name, the wish will come true.

Even though you’re not supposed to, I thought that moment was still a perfect opportunity…

I closed my eyes, smiled and made a wish…


 The woman behind the words …

” Memories “

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