I may be writing this from the beach overlooking the Gibraltar Strait with Spain in the distance, or I may be writing it from the toilet seat in my hotel who’s balcony holds that view… you choose… but my friend reminded me of authenticity and that I really have no social filter which is why she loves reading my shit – pun intended – so the latter is the truth. You’re Welcome!!
I made it a month or so into my travels before my lovely insides/body/gut etc proved they weren’t quite the match for the stress I have put them through or the food choices I have been offered. The constant moving, sleeping in unusual places (including the back of cars, on the sand in the Sahara Desert, shared beds with my younger sists, and on a rolled up blanket with my camping mat on top, to name a few, hasn’t helped either.
Seeing the end of the time in Morocco feels good, but also slightly daunting as the next part of my trip is completely unplanned. Aside from a few texts with a Couchsurfing buddy and a ferry ticket to Tarifa, I really don’t know what’s coming next… or if my period will ever show up – #authenticity to the max.
As you were ∇
Since my last post in British Columbia Canada, I have crossed the country to visit a few friends on the way, and land in Iceland for an unforgettable week of breathtaking scenery, grey skies, wind, and fog, 12-degree- 24hr-light days, loads of laughter, beautiful food cooked by my old friend and tour guide (we met whilst studying in Denmark 10 years ago) and one seriously cute cat.
– check back later for my post on Iceland (because it’s too good to not have its own).
After that, I swapped to the other end of the scale; flying out of London, where I met my sister, to Essaouira Morocco. For the hottest time of year in the country. Bingo! We almost didn’t make the flight, to be honest – Luten Airport is a serious mess and the security decided to hold my phone for questioning – who knows what that was about my measly iPhone is no more capable of blowing up than the other 40 going through. Eventually, we were bound for two rather enlightening weeks in a country that is hard to define.
Random fact: I am drug/dangerous chemicals swabbed or whatever, almost every time I fly. I am at 4/6 for this trip. I must look so innocent and naive I am sure to be stiched up.
My time away from home has continued to teach me things about how I function, both physically, psychologically and emotionally. Being around people for the “organised” part of my trip was a good segway into this time alone. Because it has shown me my boundaries. Ok, I guess they are pretty loose after telling you I’ve got the runs and am typing from the loo…. AAAANYWAY. What I mean is who I want to keep in my life, who are worthwhile giving my fucks to, and how much energy it takes to control where they go when you are alone, or being hosted, or being offered something where you are in the ‘guilt’ zone if you want to just be alone and scream (or meditate, or ponder or take a poo… seriously… I’ll stop with the dunny puns now).
I am also really connecting with the things I have built at home. The beautiful friendships and family connections. And also the immense trust, honesty, love, and openness in my romantic relationship (there is a little separate writeup about this special soul).
Thanks to these people, (and myself) I realise how proud I am of who I am becoming along the road, of how far I have come from my time in pain and why I now see things as journeys, rather than destinations. Seeing the incredible Rocky Mountains tower above me while driving, and being encouraged to hike them even with my low level of fitness, and minor asthma brought humility but also showed me my fears. My fear of being in pain, of not being able to make it, not being good enough, and my ability to still want to give up when it gets tough.
Walking through frigid, wind-powered-sideways rain and fog in single-digit weather to get to a hot spring in Iceland (only to traverse back down in worse conditions with every garment I had soaked to the bone (water was swishing around in my underpants AND my shoes) I made it through them all. These experiences showed that although I am fiercely independent, I am also in need of others, and by taking their encouragement, and believing their statements of achievement and ‘it will be worth it I promise’ actually allowed me to let go of some of the things that were holding me back, to experience and see things I am so grateful for (and even laugh about – cue Iceland), after their occurrence.
Being lost in Morocco many-a-times (there are blogs out there named this it’s that common) brought out my inner belief in it all working out, and trusting the universe,
–but also my sense of claustrophobia the Medinas of Morocco are enchanted, I swear.
Language has always intrigued me, and the barrier in Morocco is no different. English is not a middle or common-language as such. French is. And when French is as unfamiliar to you as Arabic… well… things get interesting and I have to admit, Google definitely came to the rescue a few too many times.
What I learnt out of the language and cultural barrier was how priveliged our sex is in western countries. And how much I love the men in my life who see me as worthy, strong, equal, and admirable. Some men in Morocco believe that if you travel as a solo woman (or two like us without a male counterpart) you are available for easy sex… a generalisation perhaps, but one given to us by a few English speaking travellers, and also two Moroccan-born men we travelled with for three days who are in their late twenties Each had moved away for their major schooling- London and Paris respectively but still visit family regularly. We noticed when we walked with these two, we were not catcalled, or imitated kisses, or ‘hola’-d, or asked to marry, or told we were a good ‘fabrication’ or ‘sexy like a piece of cheese’ (that one is still my favourite… I love cheese!) or hassled to buy anything. Prices to do, or buy anything were shockingly lower (by about 70%) and we received respect and smiles in general.
For two outspoken, strong, independent females from a family of support, no religion, or barriers or fears of communication or believing we couldn’t do, see or go anywhere our heart pleased, this was a reminder of how incredible our lives and upbringing was/is. We have taken many-a-trips to countries and cultures of difference – I mean, my sister lives in Dubai for fuck’s sake – but culture shock still hits you no matter what and it’s why I adore traveling to places without the comforts, language or even foods of home.
On that note – Morocco is NOT a place for Wellbeing or healthy eating by any stretch of the imagination. And I had to let go of some of the resctictions and needs of home. Now I’m paying for it because I don’t know what made me ill).
We were on a fairly limited menu selection of lentils, chickpeas, horribly boring tagines (potatoes, onions, and carrots are only tasty the first couple of times), salads – the only safe one is the ‘Moroccan’, soups (if we were lucky because it’s summer) and BREAD…
SO. MUCH. BREAD.
It’s used as cutlery here and no meal is served without. The main drink is refined-sugar-laden mint tea. It’s a national treasure, favorite and what people know most about Maroc… But I’m not a fan of 2-7 poisonous white sugar cubes in my tea. Aside from this, there are other choices but as my sister is a Vegan, and my gut prefers less meat, sugar, and carbs….. it was a little lackluster.
On a positive note…. we spent a night in a hostel and cooked our own vegetable-filled tagine and it was DIVINE! goes to show my cooking skills can easily be tweaked.
Well, since I’ve moved to the balcony some time ago, I’m going to enjoy the view and hope my stomach clears up because I am off to treat myself at the El Marocco Club tonigh. Then… I go to Spain tomorrow to get naked for a few weeks… YUP, you read right. Getting NAKED hurrah! My favouirite thing!
I am following my inner naturist and meeting some fellow 'anti-clothing enthusiasts' for a road trip along the coast of southern Spain. I'm sure that got your hopes up for nudie-pics... and because I am who I am... I guess I'll see you then eh? ;)