IT’S A COMBO POST, Y’ALL! I’m a week behind on posting and trying to remember all of the things I did before the city of Sofia completely and totally engulfs me (but more on that later). The end of Morocco was amazing, and involved a LOT of time in the car, drinking wine in the desert, sleeping under a blanket of stars, and having my first friend (!!!) visit me from home. Timing couldn't have been more perfect, and though I was struggling with things like jobs falling faster than me down a sand dune, I managed to overcome it thanks to three gals, a (soon to be stalker but) really nice driver, and the nature that surrounded me in the middle of nowhere. So let's begin. This week I:
attended a birthday party for Sir Rooftop Robbie. Also, I met Hilary's parents! If you don't know these people I'm sorry but this is just for my personal record. Here's a weird picture to make you feel like you belong.
- lost a little bit of hope. With money draining and jobs falling through, I turned to communication to get me through it. Unfortunately, time differences, schedules, and life in general gets in the way of us all. It was the first time I felt a little disconnected from the people I loved at home. My friends didn't seem to be responding to my messages, and my wifi was shitty - I blame this, still, on Mercury Retrograde. I knew coming into this year that I would experience both ups and downs, and I've definitely grown because of it. However, it still sucks. Just being candid.
- Luckily, the universe has its way of timing things out - my first friend came and visited me!!! (Friends that say you're going to visit, I'll believe it when I see it.) Noelle came all the way from Dallas to visit me and make some camel friends in the desert. Though work wasn't going well, it did give me more time to hang out with her - which I desperately needed. One taste of home, comin' right up.
- took another train to Marrakech; a lot of us lived on this train all month. It was the easiest way to explore the country, but was a roundtrip of about 10 hours total every time. Looooots of trains and automobiles.
- visited the Jardins Marjorie which was STUNNING. You can read all about it on that link, but it's a creative masterpiece. Yves Saint Laurent bought it in the 40s, and when he died they scattered his ashes throughout it. The colors are incredible and truly look like this in real life. IRL INSTA POSTS!
- Visited La Mamounia, a five star luxury hotel that we wanted to settle down in and tell no one about. An average of 6,000 MAD a night (~$600)? Sure. We could swing that. Tell our sugar daddies we'll get them back.
- met up with Stacy and Mai, had another dinner at a place where a guy breathes and dances with fire, and got some much needed rest for our trek to the SAHARA DESERT! Meet our driver who is now in love with Mai (seriously, he won't stop WhatsApping her), MOUNIRRRRRR. (yeah I creeped hard for this pic, whatever)
- jammed really hard to the same playlist for 20. Hours. We thought we'd be able to plug in and play our own music, however, you can only do that if you have it on a USB stick. Luckily, Mounir had us covered with this gem, which we couldn't get enough of.
- saw a ton of stuff on the way. The movie sets as well as actual places where Gladiator and all of these other things were filmed. My favorite is Game of Trones.
After a while, we got really bored stopping every five minutes for a "view panoramic". Here's a cool rock formation with yours truly being even cooler.
- stayed the night in a really cool hotel that was on the side of a rock that I forgot to take a photo of because I was so totally just LIVING in that moment.
- convinced our driver that we did not want wine - we needed wine. Luckily he knew of a shady underground store that sold it, so we bought a bottle each to take into the desert. Went really well with our 4 cans of Pringles.
- stopped at this amazing oasis to "swim and relax", but we were so late that we didn't have time to swim so we just basked in the sunshine, pretending our water bottles were mai tais.
- got on camels and rode through the sunset in the Sahara Desert. I really can't put into words how amazing this was. It felt surreal; also I was the leader of the pack with my white camel, so our guide got some pretty sweet pics. Seeeeee?
- ended the night with an amazing dinner and our wine and Moroccan drumming under the stars. Apparently, after some wine, I get really good at Moroccan drumming.
- slept out under the stars instead of in the tents provided, and it was the most awesome night of Morocco. A fellow remote captured this photo, but it doesn't even begin to explain how it truly felt or looked.
- sandboarded! I didn't even know this was a thing. But it is, and it's awesome.
- woke up, ate a shit ton of bread for breakfast (again), and rode those camels back to the oasis where we would proceed to drive 12. HOURS. BACK. (it was a looooong day. But well worth it.)
- ate at the Syrian restaurant again because obviously.
- got another massage and Hammam scrub because obviously. (I had to introduce Noelle to these amazing things. OBviously.)
- went to Latin Night at some club and watched my friends SHAKE IT.
- said farewell to my friend and got back on the job hunt. Had some success!!!!
- attended a SEE YA Morocco party in our friend's riad and drank whiskey out of an upside down water bottle that was cut in half.
- Volunteered to design and paint a mural at a place called Educall. It was super fun. I was super hungover. But I had a blast and did it really quickly.
- listened to "All The Way Up" in Arabic:
- checked out the Modern Art Museum. This was my favorite piece. It made me really sad, but art is supposed to evoke emotion, right?
- had our farewell party at a beach club and met Darien, another Remote Year group. They were pretty cool, but I still think ours is better ;)
- LEFT AFRICA! It was a wild ride but by golly, we made it.
This month left me with an appreciation for everything I've ever had. Morocco is a developing country, and living there for five weeks was difficult, to say the least. Yes, I found the beauty. Yes, the people I met were incredible, and yes, I'm forever grateful that I was able to experience it. But...there's no easy way to do anything that we're used to (or spoiled by). Need internet? Want a drink? Want to meet up with your friend? Want to walk somewhere without being stared at? Want to get a cab? Good. Luck.
I now appreciate so much more.
Being able to walk places. Calling an uber. Hailing a cab. Eating whatever and not worrying about getting sick. SALAD. Drinking tap water. A kitchen that's not covered in dust. A toilet that I haven't made my new home. A meal derived from a country other than the one I'm in. (Lookin' at you, tagine.) Wi-Fi. Sweet, sweet, Wi-Fi. Clean air. Soft hair. (My hair was straw in Morocco because of the water.) Air conditioning. Rain. Clean streets. Cars older than 1973. Fashion. The importance of communication in general. But probably most of all? The importance of a strong support system. There is no way I would've made it through this place without this amazing group of people. *cue the happy/grateful tears* Our group of course has a few cliques and smaller groups of friends within it, but it seems that everyone is so open and willing to hang out with anyone. And we all definitely leaned on each other this month. The crazy thing? I can't imagine traveling any other way, and we're only a little over two months in.
Alright, enough sappy shit. Next up: Sofia, my new girlfriend from the Bulge Area.
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.