The Serai is the result of a 17-year DIY project by us – husband and wife team, Mark & Ayelen (Scottish & Argentinian). Working in Ibiza each summer and then, each winter in Morocco, investing all our savings in building materials and help from the villagers, stone by stone we turned an idea into reality. We had almost no money for such a huge project but we had energy and time. We set ourselves only three rules: no cement in the walls, never borrow any money, and never hire anyone from outside the immediate community. We knew it might take 10 years or more and that we must simply push forward and follow the flow.
In effect, realising that the true value in the project lay in the journey, not in the end result, we turned the construction of the Serai into a lifestyle choice. And that made it so much fun: learning from books and Youtube how to use lime, how to build vaults and domes, furniture from recycled wood, how to weld all the doors and windows from steel, plumbing and electricity and so, so much more. We made mistakes, many mistakes, but then found imaginative ways to fix and disguise them, and these are the details that people love the most. Friends and volunteers flocked to help us and almost every local fisherman has sweated alongside us. We had to learn Arabic very quickly indeed!
“Aha!” said Julian. “The very man! Can I interest you in a piece of land in Morocco?”
“Possibly.” I replied, and so began a 17-year journey to build the Serai.
The story of the Serai begins in 2005. For almost the first time in my adult life I had enough money to think about maybe climbing onto the ‘property ladder’. In the UK this would definitely mean a mortgage on some tiny apartment. I was appalled at this prospect. Instead, I began to scout around for something a bit more interesting. something that might lead me down an interesting and unusual path.
I looked at Croatia or Slovenia; a kite surfing beach project in northern Brazil sounded fun. A year or so drifted by with no decisions – I was busy with overseas work and my passion for paragliding and kite surfing. Then one day, walking through London, I met a man with whom I’d worked in the Middle East a few years before. I had invited him to join me at a Sheikh’s banquet on the banks of the River Tigris and he knew I was