Blogging is…tricky. Tricky because it is easy to sweep details away in the hopes of a concise, exciting adventure story. But these stories tend to leave out the most human elements: the food poisoning, the cat-calling, and the cold apartments.
And while all of these are true facts that you all now know about my trip, I want to focus on my joy, going outside.
A quick recap for those who are visiting and unaware of my current life path: I am studying abroad in Morocco for the second semester of my junior year. I am a journalism and women’s studies student, and I am in Morocco to check my privilege and see a new way of life.
Now you are caught up. Welcome.
I am traveling with a group of fabulous ladies (and two wonderful men), who are here for different purposes: language immersion, home-stays, working with NGOs and more. We live in three bedrooms, three bathroom apartments and have a woman cook us two of our three meals every day. Yeah, life is pretty good right now.
Before settling into our apartments, we toured around major Moroccan cities Casablanca and Marrakech, which are two gorgeous, bustling centers of culture.
But on our third day, we stopped at a tiny pit stop for what would be only a three-hour excursion: seeing Cascades d’Ouzoud, North Africa’s highest waterfall. This was, in short (or tall?), what I was waiting for. Expecting a hike to the waterfall, I dawned my hiking shoes, athletic clothing, and threw on a bathing suit for good measure. My energy leading up to this hike was nothing short of manic. I had missed my treasured outdoor time and daily exercise amid the hustle of travel days.
We arrived in town and you can bet your sweet booty I skipped and danced the entire way to the “trailhead.” And let’s be honest here, the trailhead was more of a marketplace, and the hike was more of a slip ’n’ slide of slick stairs to the bottom of the cascades, but I am still grateful for the grip on those shoes!
Approaching the waterfall was a gratifying experience. As I gazed upon the runoff of the High Atlas Mountains, I recognized the blissful reminder of how dependent we truly are on the gifts this Earth provides.
So, we slipped past vendors and restaurants to the bottom and were confronted with ice cold water, a sweet kiss on the cheek from the mountains that loomed above us. The swimsuit tugged at my spirits and soon we were splashing around in the base of the beauty.
The area was not only for water-splashing, though. This small town boasted of one last attraction for weary tourists: it’s macaque monkey population. A small alcove near the steps provided an entertaining 20 minute break to our weary calves. We walked past some olive trees, blinded by branches, and came into a clearing with leaping, crawling, begging macaques in every direction. Merchants crowded around selling peanuts to lure the monkeys onto our shoulders. And suddenly, I had a monkey resting its folded hands in my hair, throwing peanut shells into my (already dirty) locks.
Coming down from the high that was seeing Morocco’s nature, we climbed back up the steps to our bus and continued on our journey to the apartments in our new home, Meknes.
If you want a blog post about Marrakech or Casablanca, refer to one of my roommates’ posts. I am here to tell you about following my own joy while in Northern Africa — and going outside.