Hello again, dear readers. It’s been far too long since my last update, and for those of you following this blog with all of the excitement and nail-biting anticipation of a game show contestant, please accept my almost apology for the delay. Almost, because while I truly lament my online hiatus, I cannot say that I regret the events that have transpired the past two weeks to keep me so far away from my laptop.
Allow me to update you with a quick recap of the events that have happened in my absence. I took a little trip across the sea to Morocco. In the past fourteen days, I have spent over forty hours travelling- by bus, by boat, by camel and by foot. I’ve visited five different cities in two different countries, camped in the Sahara desert, lost my way in the Medina of Fes, climbed (and then subsequently tripped and fell down) a sand dune, watched the sun rise over the desert horizon, and watched the even more impressive moonrise cut the same path through one of the most beautiful night skies I’ve ever seen. I met many people, incredible people, people who could speak five or six or seven languages without ever having set foot in a classroom, people who have spent more than a month trekking (by foot!) across the Sahara, and made some fantastic new friends through the simple, instantaneous bond of shared experience–and please believe me when I say there are few experiences in life more shared than a showerless, nearly bathroomless camping trip in the middle of the desert.
Without a doubt, the past two weeks have been two of the most awesome, fun, and memorable spans of time I’ve ever enjoyed. I could go on for hours talking about the cities, or the desert, and all the smells and sights and sounds that accompanied them. I could continue even longer by telling you about the people I met, sharing stories about the nearly deadly quest for a McFlurry or my second (although admittedly less sincere) marriage proposal. More than all these stories, however, more even than all the memories, photos, argan oil, trinkets, friends, and sand I have brought back home with me, Morocco left me with a mind full of some interesting thoughts and right now it is these that I would like to share:
- It is incredibly difficult to avoid feeling like a tourist when traveling in a third world country,
And I found this incredibly frustrating. This was my first trip to such a country, and I found myself overwhelmed on more than one occasion by the poverty of the people. It’s just a feeling that sticks, driving past families living out of shacks on the side of the road or walking shoeless on the gravel while you recline and watch a movie on your big, comfy bus. It weighs on you, that feeling, heavy enough to be uncomfortable but just out of reach to remove. The feeling sucks, but I believe it’s better to travel with it than without. Let yourself feel and be reminded of everything for which you are grateful. Remember those moments not for their novelty and exoticism, but for their humanity, and never forget that you always have your empathy and respect to give.
- Makeup is overrated, sunscreen is not
I’m not the first one to say it, and I’m sure both my mom and dermatologist are proud of me for putting that on this list. Things that are in the Sahara: Sun. Lots and lots of sun. Things that aren’t in the Sahara: Sephora.
- Do not take water for granted,
Because it is not always available or for everyone. And when the running water isn’t safe for you to drink, don’t test the theory. If you drink the tap water, you will get sick. If you eat fruit washed by the tap water, you will get sick. If you wet your toothbrush or open your mouth in the shower for just a split second, you will get sick. Stock up on the bottles and be thankful it’s not the process you have to go through everyday back home.
- Never underestimate the power of a hot shower
I wish I could bottle up the feeling of the first shower I took back at the hotel after we left the desert and save it forever. If my Morocco trip in general is one of the top five experiences of my life so far, that shower is easily number one.
- Soccer is the world’s greatest sport
This doesn’t really need explaining. Soccer rocks! And it’s one of the best ways to make instant connections with other people across the globe, too. You don’t have to speak the same language to kick a ball back and forth.
- You can’t always choose who you travel with,
But you can choose how you react to the company. You won’t always get along with everyone, asi es la vida. But never put yourself in a position where you’re more concerned with who you aren’t meshing well with than who you could be. So choose wisely when you can and be open to the rest, because you’ll be sure to meet some pretty great people along the way.
Here’s to empathy, hot showers and new friends! Cheers, till next time.