I always like to have a trip to look forward to; in fact, I think I’m outdoing even myself with the next one coming up in November: MOROCCO!
It’s been ten years since I found myself with 4 complete strangers taking the ferry across the Mediterranean from Algeciras, Spain, to Tangier, Morocco. My college friend and I had had an explosive parting of ways in Madrid a few days earlier, and I’d reached the sea town of Algeciras feeling lonely and stranded. My hopes of touching the African continent were dashed without a travel companion. I was 23 and this was my first time out of the country, and while I had the courage to backpack around Europe alone, I knew that Morocco required a buddy.
The beauty of hostels is that there is a self-selecting group of social, adventurous travelers on the cheap, like I was right after college. I quickly made friends with two Canadian girls, who agreed to go to Morocco with me. We picked up two more young travelers while on the ferry, and the five of us spent the next week experiencing one exotic adventure after the next.
We got suckered into a carpet shop in Tanger, where I acquired my obsession with mint tea but managed to not engage in a bartering contest for a berber wedding burka. We paid the monkey and snake charmers, had the henna done on our hands, and ate delicious kebabs in Marrakech. Somehow, we even found our way to Ouarzazate, where we were passed by dozens of bikers competing in the Eco-Challenge. I thought I would freeze to death one night, high in the Atlas Mountains, where we decided to camp and all I had was my little silk sheet that I used in the hostels to avoid being devoured by the bed bugs.
I had an amazing time in Morocco. It was there that I saw true poverty for the first time. I felt like I was living inside of a 3-D National Geographic Magazine, complete with exotic sounds, overwhelmingly sweet and pungently sour smells, and a history so rich I could not comprehend.
I always knew I’d go back to Morocco, the next time with some more money and sophistication. I didn’t have to think twice when my friend Jen called a few months ago with the idea. We’ll spend some time in the major cities, but the highlight will be a three day trek up 14,000 foot Mount Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains. Jen, who has done everything from the Ironman to weekend 50 milers, will be the perfect adventure buddy. She’s so fit, in fact, that even I may have a hard time keeping up with her. I better start training!
You can follow my trip to Morocco in November by reading the blog and checking the real time Google Maps produced by SPOT.