Friday, August 27, 2010

Impressions of Morocco

(Written in my journal 8/25/2010 and typed on my itouch so my apologies for typos)

Morocco is a country of heat and color and noise. The markets are full of rich scents - olives, fruits, spices, perfumes, and, on some days fish. Drums, strings, and human voices blend and rise up into the heat- thick air.the moisture spreads upon your skin, catching the delicate breeze to cool you and you close your eyes and breathe, shutting out for a moment the chaos and the throngs of people in the medina. You are here, in the north of Africa, and it is a world unlike any you've visited before.

Moroccan food, the tajines and couscous, with their fragrant spices, and the fresh-squeezed orange juice, and the welcoming sweet mint tea, tease your mouth, coaxing it awake and filling it with flavor.

The buildings and the people are clothed in color. Blues, whites, greens,browns, oranges, reds, and golds are everywhere against the backdrop of red mud or whitewashed buildings. Ceramics, tiles, glass, and beautiful fabrics contrast with the silvers and golds of the metal making up the doors, lanterns,and trim on the teapots and bowls. Beautiful inlaid and polished woods lend their own richness.

It is a beautiful place full of friendly people. But sometimes, after a week or so of the traveler's sickness and feeling tired and bloated in the heat, you just want to lie in your (hopefully) air-conditioned hotel room where the toilet (and hopefully toilet paper) is nearby until the condition passes.

Unfortunately you can't. Not if you really want to see the country and experience it's richness. So you take your over-the-counter antibiotics and get your butt out the door, into the heat, the noise, the world. And you are glad you did because, just around the next corner, some wonderful surprise waits for you.

Note: I've left Morocco and made my way back to Barcelona, getting ready to start my approximately month-long pilgrimmage across northern Spain. Stay tuned for
(hopefully) more frequent updates and, if you can, please help me raise funds to help fight cancer by donating at (choose Camino against Cancer). I'm on my way to being well before I start walking and will try to keep you all updated on my progress. Stay tuned, and be well!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Morocco Update

A couple nights ago we had some local musicians and dancers come to the hotel. After singing a couple songs; they dressed us up in traditional robes and we danced with them. Not traditionally, I'm sure, but very fun!

Last night we had a real adventure - drove out into the Sahara and our van got stuck in a drift at the side of the road. We got out and pushed and got it free then got in and drove quickly to our nearby hotel and were stuck inside it in a sudden sandstorm! There was strong wind, blowing plastic chairs around, and the air was thick with blowing red sand. It was incredibly hot in the car so we made a run for it into the hotel. Then it rained, hard, while the wind kept blowing. You never expect rain in the Sahara, do you? It didn't last long and we eventually got onto camels and rode an hour or so to go to the desert camp (strange but a bit like riding a horse and I kind of liked Wakuna - my camel). We raced up a sand dune from the camp on foot, in time to catch the last of the sunset. Then we came back down to drumming and drum lessons and chicken tangine dinner served under the stars. It was lovely! There were a lot of cats around, mostly kittens and they entertained us by climbing up the tents walled with carpets, wrestling each other, and catching beetles, etc. They also climbed, purring into our laps if we let them.

We finally crawled into our tents, sleeping on matresses on the sand and covering ourselves with the blankets we used to sit on the camels with. At 5 a.m. Mohammed, our wonderful guide, woke us to climb the dune again and take pictures of the spectacular sunrise. Then we rode our camels back to the hotel for a breakfast of different local breads, jam, cheese, olives, orange juice, and milky coffee or mint tea. That's pretty much breakfast anywhere you go in Morocco and it's pretty good.

Now we're staying at a hotel in Todra Gorge for a couple days with a pool and one computer so I'll have to share. Tomorrow we do a 4 hour hike in the morning where we'll get to meet a nomad family living in the caves nearby. Very cool!

Morocco is hot, the people are lovely and friendly, resourceful and creative. There are lovely handicrafts here, as well as some cool natural resources - dates, fruits, fossils. Having a wonderful adventure, more to come!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Beginning of a Journey

I find myself in Tangier, Morocco, in an internet cafe. (If this post has a bunch of typos, please ignore them because the keyboards are different here and typing is very automatic so I'm making lots of corrections.) I'm having to go slow and carefully, laboring over each word. It's like trying to speak another language - and why not? In the last week I've worked my way through English, Spanish, French, and even a couple words of Arabic, believe it or not. So why not a new keyboard language too?

For those of you following my journey, I've been to Madrid, Seville, and Algeciras in Spain and from here in Tangier, Morocco, I'll be moving on to Casablanca - here's looking at you, kid!

All along the way, I've been working at life in general, unable to take things for granted, and living in the moment. And it strikes me that that isn't such a bad thing. Perhaps that's why I love traveling. It makes me see what's around me and really appreciate everything, from the breeze blowing against my cheeks, to the beauty of a stranger's smile, to the voice of a loved one half a world away, to even the delicious cool slide of water down my parched throat. Life is more intense and beautiful than normal, despite the small 'adventures`I've been having all along the way. Life is a wonderful gift.

In every place I've visited, people have reached out to me, helping me, making me feel like part of their family, telling me the stories of their lives, even sometimes their hopes and dreams. I feel connected with everyone around me and I try to be worthy of the blessings I am so aware of having. Today, I was walking along and found a 50 MAD note (worth about 5 euros). There was no one around who might have lost it so I walked a half a block on and found a thin old man in some dirty robes sitting on the sidewalk. He wasn't begging, but I gave him the money anyway and he gave me a beautiful smile as he thanked me. That small amount of money will make a much bigger difference in his life than in mine, I know.

On that note, I want to offer my own smile and gratitude to those of you who have already started pledging my upcoming Camino by donating to InspireHealth. I haven't even begun my trek and already have a good start. Thank you all very much! To see an updated total, go to

I'll have to sign off for now but will try to post some pictures next time (This computer won't let me). Until then, take care of yourselves and each other and also take some time to savour your blessings! Until next time, happy travels!