it was lovely reading your account of what’s been going on in your corner of the world; it’s been ages since we’ve talked and i was beginning to feel like our lives are even further apart than they really are (not that they’re not, anyway, but you know..). and it’s good to hear about something that’s so completely different from the things i’m experiencing right now – it’s been a crazy past few days in morocco. some bad crazy, a lot of very good crazy, but crazy nonetheless. and although it’s been incredibly enriching, it’s also been exhausting. your task came at the best time – being sick, having to cancel my flight and book another one, the stressful situations – sometimes i needed a reminder of the good things. and there were so many of them. people taking care of me when i wasn’t feeling good, time to finally watch ‘the crown’ when i spent my days in bed, the extra time for myself that i got when i couldn’t go to morocco when planned, coffee and tea and being able to taste food again after being too clogged to, the possibilities of countless adventures while discovering a new country…and that’s just naming some of the things i wrote down.
i’m not sure when i’ll be able to upload this post, so this might get all jumbled up and random, but seeing as that’s also a bit how this trip has felt it’s quite fitting. as you know i joined the others last thursday, after they had already been in marrakesh for three days. they greeted me with a fresh fruit smoothie and a plan in mind: to head straight on northwards, stopping in fez for a night and then continuing to chefchaouen the next day. we would stay there for two or three days depending on the weather, then travel back south to fez, spend some days there, visit meknes and then go back to marrakesh. surprisingly, things have gone more or less according to plan and as i’m writing this we are on the train to meknes. (i don’t know when i’ll be able to upload this; the internet hasn’t been all that great in the places we’ve been staying…(turns out i wasn’t able to upload while still in morocco, so i have added the last few days as well.))
driving to chefchaouen from fez with idris, our driver. it rained and then suddenly it stopped and we had the greatest view of a lake surrounded by hills, drove on through remote villages and stopped only when idris needed to go to the mosque. meanwhile we found shelter in a café and were served the best coffee of the trip so far. when we were back on the road, idris tried teaching us some arabic words, playing moroccan wedding music in the background.
the blue city. cats everywhere. stairs and alleys and little squares and more alleys, sometimes leading nowhere, forcing us to retrace our steps. the sweetest guesthouse owner ever, papa isham, who made us tea and served us moroccan pastries, lent us his djellaba to fight the cold, showed us the best places to eat in town and offered me his coffee when i could barely open my eyes in the morning.
on our third day in chefchaouen we hiked to the akchour falls in the rif mountains. never quite sure if we were in the jungle or not, the path led us past makeshift cafés, mini cascades and over the river on big blocks of stone. (the first day we were actually able to take off some of the layers we were wearing. seriously, it was cold.)
fez, after one of the most terrible bus rides i have ever experienced (i’ll spare you the details). crowded, bustling and initially overwhelming fez, the medina a labyrinth of smells and sights. and the only possible remedy to a day that made me as anxious as nothing ever has: bunnies! bunnies that look like balls of fur, whose eyes are almost impossible to find and whose fur is the softest imaginable.
the following days in fez were much better than that first evening and brought with them lots of haggling, tea slurping (you should see people’s expressions when we asked them not to put sugar into the tea – the incredulity! and then they bring a pot of sugar anyway, just in case we crazy people change our minds.), great food and rooftop sessions of salad bowl/time’s up/make some noise.
from fez we took the train to meknes amd strolled the souks there. every city here has its color (and the taxis do, too. in marrakesh they’re yellow, in chefchaouen blue and fez red.) and meknes’ was a somewhat faded pink.
after one last night in fez we returned to marrakesh on friday, once again spending approximately nine hours in the train. the views were even better this time due to the improved weather situation – rows and rows of olive trees, fields with tiny yellow and purple flowers, farmers tending their fields, the donkeys patiently waiting at the roadside and shortly before reaching our final destination again, a stunning view of the atlas mountains in the sunset, only to be outdone on our last evening, when we saw the same thing from the rooftop of the maison de la photographie.
we spent the last two days roaming the city, soaking up the sun and warmer temperatures and spending the rest of our money on bowls, glasses, towels, jewelry and whatnot. it’s impossible to sum up this trip in just a few sentences, or even a few photos with stories to accompany them. there was so much to see, discover and learn and the last two weeks have made me think about traveling in a way i haven’t before, about our responsibilities as guests in a foreign countries, about my perception of the “other”, about where i come from and how i grew up…and in addition to that with memories i’ll cherish forever. i’ll definitely be back some day.
thank you for your new task! just thinking about all the options got me very excited. making the final decision wasn’r easy, but i think i won’t regret my choice. after much deliberation, i’ve opted to reread laura ingalls wilder’s the big house in the prairie. the first time i read it must have been when i was about seven years old and i remember it being somewhat of a struggle because i was learning to read and learning the english language at the same time. my memories of what happens aren’t that good, so i’m looking forward to rediscovering laura’s world.
and now to your new task. as i’m sure you’re very conscious of, valentine’s day is coming up. while i’m not a huge fan of the so-called “holiday”, i am convinced that sharing love is never a bad thing. so in that manner i am giving you the task to share some love in a special way; how you do so is up to you – whether it’s baking mini cupcakes and giving them to strangers like we did all those years ago or writing a card for someone who’s not expecting it, i’m curious to hear what you come up with.