The way my trip to Africa unfolded was unexpected. It was sure as hell no Four Seasons trip. Before leaving Lisbon for Marrakech, I knew I wanted as much of an authentic, localized experience as possible and, like it or not, that’s exactly what I got. Overall, the trip was bittersweet, with many manic and uncertain moments that left me contemplating buying a one-way ticket to join my group back in Prague. That first night, as I sat in my room at Riad Hamdane debating my next move, I took back everything I said about wanting space. I wanted these people back that I so greatly wanted to disappear for just a few days, certainly not forever. If nothing else, this trip made me appreciate them more.
Don’t get me wrong. This was certainly not a bad trip, but it was a trying one – and that’s okay. I’m okay doing hard sometimes. It also had some lovely moments and, while I initially felt lost and alone for the first couple of days, I left the trip feeling welcomed and appreciated by the people of the country, unlike others I’d visited.
The morning we departed Lisbon, I was ready. Like, vacation mode ready, something I hadn’t felt since I went to Budapest a few months earlier. For the first time in seven months (yes, seven months), I had my luggage down to the proper weight regulations (huge accomplishment), and I didn’t have to cut side deals with my group for space or kilos to haul my stuff to our next country to “make weight.” My New North duffle was perfectly packed with my most critical items for the plane, and I was ready to rock. So were the 20 eight-year-old kids boarding the plane humming the Indiana Jones theme song.
My patience was thinning and so was my champagne buzz, so I popped in my headphones and listened to a few rounds of Toto’s Africa on repeat to help get me back to a jazzy state. (Yes, I am a dork, and I’m totally okay with it.) We finally boarded, and the two-hour flight passed quickly. Next thing you know, we touched down in Africa.
Sometimes, the story you set out to write is one that can’t be written because it didn’t happen the way you thought it would. Where you end up is not the same place you started from, which is why I chose to write this story about my experience starting from the end, something I’ve never done before.
Day 5: Let Your Experiences Humble You
I love the sense of peace and calm that surrounds me when I’m in nature. After being in Marrakech for four days, I was ready for an out of the city escape. Four days was already enough, and I wanted to leave Africa on a high note, even if it meant me digging in a bit deeper to find it. At the suggestion of a friend, I looked into a day trip of hiking the Atlas Mountains. Knowing I had an escape was already a relief. It didn’t take long before this excursion blew my mind. The drive alone was refreshing and the views invigorated my spirit. I couldn’t wait to start my climb.
I hired a guide who hiked the 3-hour trail with me. When there are just two of you, you get to know one another in a condensed amount of time. I shared the experiences of my last four days with him, the story of the twelve-month journey I’m on, what I left behind and what I hope lies ahead for me. It’s nice to have a stranger to talk to once in a while, a sounding board that you’ll likely never see again, someone you can trust with pretty much anything because of that sole reason.
The hike itself was wonderful. Along the way, I stopped to sit on mountain tops, meditate and send out intentions and good vibes. I was humbled by my surroundings: the silence of the trail and the hills making me feel so small yet so powerful, filling my soul with tranquility. By the time our hike concluded, I’d been extended an invite to stay in the mountains, should I ever return, and given a necklace by the guide to remember my hike, intentions and my overall trip to Africa.
And with that memory, I shuffled my way to the airport and boarded my flight to Prague.
To be continued…
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