Sbah Ilkhir. We are literally one day past the half way point and I am writing for the first time...partially because Azeb said so :P, and partially because I am finally ready to do so. This blog is both an intro into what this trip means and, as the title might suggest, has a point to it as well. I have long hungered to travel to a new and original location, meet its people, see its land, taste its food, etc. Though the various PBS docs on Tuscany, the Galapagos Islands, etc helped me see how wonderful these places could be, I had never actually gone anywhere exciting like that. It was time for me to Go Find Out.
As I had said at least 50 times (no exaggeration) during the first week plus of this trip, this has been an AMAZING trip. The bar has been raised exponentially in regards to all the aspects a journey entails. To begin with, I am traveling with 12 other educators and an administrator, as well as two Moroccans that have worked as our guides, and a driver who will be with us the length of the trip, all of which have very unique and original personalities, histories, and everyday lives. To be able to travel with, talk to, bump heads with, have intellectual discourse with, and to be allowed into the lives of these individuals has been, in and of itself, a powerful part of this trip. I have heard repeatedly (especially from the veterans of travel) that an individual who goes through this type of adventure and doesn’t leave a changed individual has serious issues. Though I tend to resemble an individual with serious issues, the 17 or so individuals who have made up this caravan have, in and of themselves, created the opportunity for me to look at life anew in the healthiest of ways. I thank you all...so far. We do have another 2 plus weeks left of course...watch your backs.
As far as the trek and what it has entailed, as Aileen says in one of her blogs, I do not know if I am capable of relaying through words what this trip has meant to me. From the airport in Amsterdam (waiting for our connection flight, beginnings of conversations, getting pushed to the front of the security line either because we are American or our flight was close to leaving-not sure really, to having to wait at the security point because of issues with 2 passengers ahead of us, to Quiana getting grilled by an over-zealous security guard for her picture flashing, to a great convo with Luis and Quiana on the plane); to the truck stop that we had dinner in on the way to Fes from the airport in Casablanca (Eddie and I thought we were lost the first night we were there); to the small as can be shower in our hotel in Fes, to our Arabic classes (Abderrahim and Said our language instructors, Joel and his teh-wah-teh, to the hot as hell classroom, to visiting the medina, to the elaborate welcoming at the middle school JUST FOR US, to the beautiful children and loving teachers that we connected with there, to the half a millennia old books, to being Tagined out within the FIRST WEEK!); to the non-stop moving that came after that. City after city, hotel after hotel, stop after stop, we were moving yall.
It is Moroccos ‘selling point’ that Morocco represents a culmination of such variety in regards to culture, which can be linked primarily to its history and its location. It has been made clear to us that it is not only its people that represent diversity. Its landscape demonstrates this same personality. It is a character that the United States vast ‘property’ boasts...the Grand Canyons, the lush North Western Pacific Coast, the Rockies in Colorado, etc. Well, Morocco, with much less land, bellows just as loud, if not louder. We have been privy to the likes of enormous mountains, sweeping deserts abruptly interrupted by an oasis, locations with layers (a limitless area of deep green trees, backed by an endless amount of orangish-red brick and clay buildings, all of which falls on a background of tan and brown hills and mountains of all shapes and sizes), beautiful bodies of water, gorges, and much more. All the while during these explorations we have encountered some wonderfully gracious and welcoming folks, characters of all kinds, hustlers, on-lookers, and anything else you would imagine (and probably couldn’t imagine) along the way. One example is this one guy, while sitting with his two buddies in a medina we were walking through. As we navigated the pathway, passing the gentleman and his comrades, our obvious American-ness sparked his chanting of “That’s what she said! That’s what she said! That’s what she said!”, a good 5 or 6 times, all the while swiveling in our direction as we passed to make sure we heard him the entire time. What?! Word?!
What’s crazy is, I have written quite a considerable amount in this blog about our trip in general, and this does nothing more than scratch the surface for those of you who were not here to experience it. For those of us who were, or for those who have experienced something similar, it triggers a different kind of travel...one that is interpersonal. One that allows you to recite this adventure, or whatever adventure you have been on, the way YOU experienced it. I am sure if I blogged daily our excursions you would say to yourself, wow, that was a great trip...it was like I was there. Trust me when I say, it would have done nothing more than give you a glimpse...the reality is unless you experience these things for yourself, the sites, the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the sensations, you will never truly know. It is why I, as a teacher, remind my little ones...if you are interested, Go Find Out.