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Experiences Can No Longer Be Contained In Words…

22 Apr
As I write my second to last entry in my Moroccan epic, that bittersweet feeling that has permeated so many moments in this experience has begun to seep back into my mind. This will, effectively, be the last post I author while sitting in Morocco. (The last post of the experience will be written in NY, before I alter this blog to accommodate my escapades in France as well). I’ve found myself worried about the withdrawal of excitement that may strike me when I return to the States, and have already started to concoct ways in which to avoid it (Mt. Washington ski/hike, a few weekends in Boston, plus what will inevitably grow into yet another summer of too much traveling, yet again fighting to contain copious amounts of wanderlust).

The last few weeks, between Gnawa music, the eventual successful trip to Kenitra (thank god), hiking the second highest mountain in Africa, Jebel Toubkal, (prompting the desire to find my way to Kilimanjaro… someday), I have to say that I tried. Regardless of my continued travels, and attempts to see all of Morocco, I still can’t shake the feeling that someway, somehow, I fell short. I don’t see this as any deep failure on my part, the human mind has a funny way of either thinking it has too much time, or not enough. We all fall into the same pitfalls, wasting time on facebook, email, or even just sleeping, and before we know it the time is up.

I definitely squeezed as much as I could out of the weeks following spring break.

Weekend 1,

Physical and economic recovery from spring break, some work and a few low key evenings relaxing and planning the biggest weekend of the semester.

Weekend 2,

Al-hayt Al-usbooah Kabeeeeeer (the biiiiiiig weekend)



Train leaves at 3am Saturday morning.

Arrive in Marrakesh at roughly 8am. After some confusion and a complete inability to procure a decent breakfast, we settle on some coffee and hit the grand taxi lot. After meeting a crazy San Fransisco native who lives as an ex-pat in Paris, six of people cram into a beat up Mercedes to make the 2 hour ride to Imlil, changing drivers randomly and without warning 20 minutes outside Marrakesh proper (This is Morocco, This is Morocco…).

Make it to Imlil alive and well, grab a quick omelet, haggle over a guide only to realize we can’t, and decide to take the budget tour. Get our crampons (a bed of large metal spikes you attach to a shoe to walk through snow and ice) and start the 5 hour hike to base camp. Our oxygen is slowly disappearing (Base camp is at 10,000 feet. Rabat? Sea Level.), we are getting more and more tired as the day wears on, and the exertion is not ending. But,

Oh. My. God. was it gorgeous. This place was true back country, the wilderness in all its rugged glory and an environment that takes your breath away (in more ways than one).

4 hours in and I’ve given up trying to talk to anyone. Pushing, thinking only about my surroundings and the bed waiting for me not far away. As we approach base camp, snow begins to dominate the landscape and we are engulfed by a a slowly darkening sky (sunset was 2 hours ago due to the sheer rock face rising up on either side of us).

5 hours after our departure, we arrived. Exhaustion now means something wholly different from what it used to. I was on the verge of nausea/body shutdown.

After 30 minutes of slow recuperation and replenishment, I was alive, but exhausted.

8pm bedtime,

Wake up at 4:30am. Let this go on the record as the ONLY time I will ever wake up at that and and feel well rested.

5:30am and we are suited up and ready to go. The sun had yet to make its way above the solid rock that rose on all sides of us, so we started the exhausting hike pre-dawn. After some struggles, we make our way up to the summit (in the process getting lapped by some crazy Spainards…).

Summit at 10:30am. Gorgeous. This is one of those things you have to do yourself, because no amount of pictures will ever allow you to bask in this the way you need to.

“Time to head back down…..wait, crampon is coming undone. Really, again? Whyyyyyyy won’t this thing stay on, and more importantly why is our guide 500 feet ahead of me helping the female of our group who clearly no longer needs help? Does he even know where we are in relation to him? Ahh screw it, I don’t need his help anyway, plus she could use another Berber husband. Forget the crampon, I’ve got one foot that still works. Damn, snow is slippery, boot skiing time, and……go.”

I proceeded to make my way down the last quarter of the mountain on  some skiing skill, a whole lot of slipping, and a whole ton of luck. It was at this point that I determined that my Berber guide was no longer going to keep me any safer than I was going to be alone, so needless to say I stopped listening to him. (But, in retrospect, I would much rather have this story than have had his help…..foolish pride sort of a thing).

After a 4 hour hike back to Imlil, tea and a 2 hour taxi, we arrive in Marrakesh, with the Toubkal Gauntlet clock running at roughly 42 hours.

After a good warm meal, we hit the night train to Rabat.


Not if you don’t have a seat. What was to follow would rank among the most surreal 4 hours of my life. After 30 min stoop sit in the diner car, a booth in the car opens up.




I put my head down after shaking off some creepy army guy, wrap my personal belongings tight, and pass out.

1 hour passes.

Awake again.

Creepy army guy is trying to force some strange child’s head into his lap….no….the table? This is too much, back to sleep.

1 hour later… army guy gone, new guy next to me. Good, he speaks Fus’ha and French. We’re in Casa, and that seat bench is open? Great.

Restaurant bed, One more hour. Back in Rabat. Perfect. Sleeeeeeeeeep. (Followed by the most painfully sore 2 days of my life).

Weekend 3? Sick due most likely to the last weekend. Weekend 4? Work and relaxation in Rabat, and a good reminder of why I’m going to miss this place.

Now for a A Tribe Called Quest song, a deep breath, a pensive pose and… scene. Time to try and muse these last 3 and a half months into one thought flow… (and avoid the finals workload a little while longer).


I came here off of a sigh and a half-hearted acceptance. Oh… Morocco, yeah sure… *mumble* It’s not Niger…

I left behind my ease, my comfort, my stability. I gave up something I had spent the past year and a half building in Boston. I was really finally truly happy in that place, but, I also couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I had to shake so many times before. Comfort was never really the top priority. I left behind a place I was finally happy with when I left Saratoga. I did it again when I left Geneseo, and I did it a third time when I left Boston, and they still to this moment those decisions rank among the most intelligent things I’ve ever done. I now have 4 homes, so many friends, so many experiences and so many memories.

A couch is comfortable. You sink down into it, and never want to leave. You get your friends, your geographical comfort, and you don’t ever want to leave it. I don’t know, maybe something is wrong with me, but I cannot see the time in my future when I’m ever going to be able to fully accept that. I won’t lie, I’ve lost a lot from my wanderlust and movement: money, connections, security, and dare I say, even a tear or two along the way, but at no point in this entire experience have I ever felt that I made a mistake. I look at my future, and more of the same lies in my path. Fullbright? Peace Corps? Am I ever going to spend more than 28 months in any one place? Not likely. I’m not saying that what I set out for myself is something everybody should do, but I think that my underlying motivation runs through everyone:

Never, ever, for the love of god let your mind get the better of you.

Yeah, that was vague, but what I’m trying to say is, people, myself included, tend to get so set in our ways that we lose sight of the truly important things. We stay in the same place for nothing more than fear of moving. We date the same person for a year for shear fear of change. We spend our lives eating the same thing for fear of tasting something bad, and we trod in the same footsteps as everyone else for fear that walking off that path may lead to an injury.

I have, without posting my entire life story on the Internet, been victim to all of the above at some point before, and let me say this : New places are exciting, change is inevitable (and is often a good thing), new things taste damn good, and in my opinion, that less beaten path is 10x times more beautiful.

I write all this to preface my thoughts on Morocco for two reasons. One, I want to explain why I feel the way I do about Morocco in more abstract terms to outline the concrete, and two, maybe, just maybe someone will stumble across this and be inspired to do something daring, something new, and understand the point I’m trying to ramble to death.

A few discussions with old friends, family, weathered colleagues, and new friends have got me to thinking a lot about this experience, and I hope that the cathartic release of these thoughts will give these 4 months a little justice:

I left everything to come to a place that I knew nothing about to learn a language I was half-heartedly interested in and do things that I thought could easily be a boring waste of 4 months. But, on the other hand, somewhere deep down I knew that this was my only shot at study abroad, and I had to either take a leap of faith, or forever spend my life just guessing at what could have been. I held tight, bit my tongue, and sat down to truly prayed for the first time in a long time, hoping that I wasn’t making a mistake.

I got here and my honeymoon period lasted about two weeks. Everything was new and cool, but that ended, and the culture shock set in. I can’t speak these languages, I don’t know whats going on, I wasn’t ready for this, what am I doing here? I just want to go home……give me my old life back. I knew this was bound to happen, but I questioned everything, trying to cling to everything I left behind, praying, hoping, that I was still right.

I was.

I adapted, I began to get comfortable, bond with new people, and I began to really, truly fall in love with this place. The daily battles, the constant frustration was accompanied with the most acute feelings of accomplishment I have had in my entire life. My life was constantly changing, and constantly throwing me for a loop, but I was hitting back, and loving every minute of it. Every day a new challenge, and every day a new reason to shake my head,  look into the clouds/ceiling and think “yeah, this definitely isn’t the US.”

Other people I know here have complained, spent many a weekend bound to the house, wondering why they didn’t feel the same way the students in past semesters had felt. I knew why. For many of us, our heart had never been in this trip, in this place, and we spent more energy thinking about home than we did about trying to enjoy this for what it was and stop thinking about what it wasn’t.

I have a confession. I’m going to have to fight back the emotion when I leave this place like those before me. I put myself into this experience. I spent my time in the Sahara Desert, on the tops of the Rif and Atlas mountains, in the obnoxious city centers of Casablanca and Marrakesh, on the beach, in the medinas, in the souks. I spent my time navigating Rabat at two am, getting yelled at for violating house rules, having dumbed down discussions in Arabic and French. I ate unsanitary street food, stopped using utensils. I spent a week in Spain and Portugal by myself just because. I did what I could, I did what I wanted, and I dealt with the consequences of those actions as they came to me. I regret not a single decision. In fact, I would go so far as to say that every decision has lead me to where I sit right now, and dare I say am very happy with that place.

In my opinion, there are less bad experiences than there are bad mindsets. If my battles here have taught me anything, it’s that people will construct whatever they need to in their minds to keep things out, or let things in. Morocco was not what I wanted in my study abroad……but I made it what I wanted. In the end, it was the experience I wanted, and it was the experience I got. I will never forget, for the rest of my days, the places, the people, and the experiences that stole my heart, that made me think, and that made this semester the best of my entire college career. I give up Morocco, you win…….Ahebuka (I love you), happy?

Morocco may not speak the language you want to learn, may not be your top choice of location, but its environments, its people, its cities and its atmosphere will make you love the place, all you have to do is make sure you are ready for it.

Anyway, that’s my verdict on Morocco. You can agree or disagree with me, but I will forever be sticking with my verdict. Come into this country with an open mind, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I will leave you with this advice: If you ever get the chance to experience something like this… do it. I could just be the best decision you ever make.

“Bi-saha” (this one gets lost in translation)


3 Countries, 9 Days, 1 Amazing Journey

26 Mar

I wanted to do this entry differently. I was going to write a journal article every day in Europe. I did well, until day… 3. Needless to say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Since I managed to get in two days, I will transcribe them here, and then fill in the very large blanks.


Insane is the only way to describe this day.

After witnessing an arrest before getting on the train to Casablanca, a man jumped in front of the train, making us almost miss our flight. My first experience at Mohammed V airport went at double speed in order to catch my fight to Madrid. As our group slowly peeled off, I found myself alone, map and badly translated English directions in hand. After a slight turn around, I found “Hostel Yolanda.” After meeting an old woman who I assumed lived/ran the hostel, I met her son, who showed me everything and gave me my room. He was a dirty 35 year-old man, you know, the Spanish version of your typical stay at home fat hairy “dungeon master,” but he was nice enough, so who I am to judge. After collecting my running thoughts (the accordion player who followed me onto the metro, 3 other street performers and the “parkour” I was witness to upon emerging from the metro stop, I was ready to see the city.

I walked around, breaking my porkless few months at the “Museo del Jamon,” and being propositioned by prostitutes who sell sex like Moroccans sell drugs (loudly, and with a dogged persistence). I watched some Sub-Saharan Africans selling goods on the street, and the police chase that then ensued. This, in addition to hearing some Moroccan Arabic later on in the night made me question if I had actually left Morocco. Maybe I have just found pork-eating Muslims. After reveling in this feast for the eyes, I made my way back to the hostel, witnessing kissing…not only kissing, but more same sex kissing than anything else. This is going to be an interesting week…


Another day, another feeling of exhaustion as I opened my eyes. Just a few more minutes. I utilized my hostel checkout time of noon as best I could, knowing how valuable this sleep is going to be later in the week. A night in a single room was a good way to ease into Madrid, as I am now sharing a room with 12 others. After trying to decipher the time from my camera, the only functional clock I have, as my phone is now 100% worthless, I decided to head out and check out the flea market. A street lined with makeshift booths is nothing new to me. In fact, it was almost like a home comfort, if it wasn’t for the Spanish and copious Euro signs. I learned I can get socks here cheaper than I can in Morocco. If that isn’t a load of crap, then I don’t know what is. After the market I maneuvered my way down to the Achote Train Station and bought a Pepsi for 1.40€ (Keep this price in mind. Moroccan Price for this good: 5 Dirham -.75€). I then walked around an ogled at the Prado and the Rena Sophia, and then made my way on the metro out to the Bullring. After a bunch more sightseeing, I decided to find a cheap meal. Having almost no money, and wanting to save what little I had for tonight, I found a supermarket and bought a bag of packaged pastries and a bottle of lemonade for 2€, gorging myself on the chocolaty and cheap goodness. In the same super market I found a 1L bottle of San Miguel, a Spanish Beer for 1.15€ …I only take note of this because of the complete flip of soda and beer in this country. 40 Dirham at a restaurant in Morocco (roughly 4€) will get you a bottle of the same beer, but only roughly 200ml of it.  This may be the most shocking thing yet this trip, finally coming to terms with how cheap everything in Morocco is, except for nightlife and alcohol. The “re”culture shock of Spain is interesting, since things that have never really bothered me before (homosexuality and public promiscuity) have now become a big deal… I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I’ve met a fair number of Americans here, so tonight should prove interesting. As I sit here thinking about sleep, every muscle straining with the smallest movement, I find it hard to believe that another plane, city and country await me in less than 24 hours… This may just be one of the best weeks ever… but only time will tell.

PS- Loving this daily hot shower thing.

End Transmission.

This is all I wrote about while I was on my trip, and looking back in retrospect, it was one of the greatest weeks I’ve ever had. Travelling alone can be a frightening and sometimes lonely experience, but it forces you to meet new people every day, people you may never have talked to otherwise, and makes for an experience that is frustrating, tiresome, lonely, but quite possibly more rewarding than anything else you could possibly experience. It is based on this emotion that I will continue the story of this journey through Iberia.

The night in question ended with the quintessential Madrid nightlife experience, and conversations that carried over into an early lunch at Burger King. After that I made tracks to the airport. Lisbon awaited me.

Lisbon was gorgeous, and I do believe that I fell in love with the city while I was there. The atmosphere everywhere oozed relaxation, and everything I did just seemed as though it was imbibed with good luck. I visited the Parce de Nacoes (Multiple Times), Sinitra (an outlying city that was beautiful), and Belem. These three areas made my week, mixed in with the city itself and a hostel that was more accommodating that most hotels I have stayed in. I spent my days sightseeing, and my evenings around, meeting a score of interesting people, ranging from Sao Paulo, Brazil expats to Munich Med Students. Lisbon was a hard place to leave, but it’s not a big deal, seeing as I have decided that I am going to move to Lisbon and live out the rest of my days there.

After Lisbon, it was back to Madrid for a few more interesting days, throwing Toledo into the mix as well. After a tiresome run in Europe, it was back to Casablanca. I then received a text message, and made a detour to a music festival in Casablanca to see people throwing fire (and losing control of said fire), before retiring to Rabat, and struggling through a week of class, slowly readjusting to the daily drawl.

By the end of this week abroad, there was a 5 second delay on everything that came out of my mouth, as I now had to not only think of what I wanted to say, but decide which language to put it into. Yo quiero deux min fadlik, obrigado. Yep, that’s 4 languages right there, and yes my head hurts.  I no longer knew what to do, as I was using a new language every 3 days, by the time I got use to using one it was not longer relevant. I said gracias to the Portuguese, obrigado to the Moroccans and shukraan to the Spanish. It’s hard enough to struggle along in Morocco with the 3, but adding two more to the mix just made it painful. Thankfully the aftershocks of this headache didn’t last long, as I am now back to thinking and speaking in broken Arabic/French/English. The week, despite its headaches, was a long and informative one, as I can now gladly add Portuguese to the list of languages that I know more than 3 words in. Such connections between languages, and the giant mass of language I have encountered has made me start to look at things I never looked at before, like cognates, the relationships between romantic languages, and the ability to extrapolate existing knowledge of these languages to figure out words in languages I don’t speak (la cuenta and a conta, “the bill” in Spanish and Portuguese, was a important one). It is an interesting phenomenon, but unfortunately one that I don’t think I will ever have the time or patience to study in depth. I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a lot of similar experiences, experiences of language, and the frustrating and rewarding experiences that are always going to accompany my studies and my work. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited at the prospect.

Ta’aben (Tired)

Can you Squeeze the Diversity of Morocco into a Week? I Don’t Know, let’s Try!

3 Mar

The feeling course through my veins is one that could only be described as bittersweet. It’s the feeling of coming down, losing the happiness of an experience and sinking into the harsh realities of what is to follow, knowing that it’s going to be anything but easy. It’s a feeling that is all too familiar, and far too double-edged, because the happier you get, the further you can end up falling. The repercussions, however, are stories for another time, another audience, and another blog post. Instead, I want to recount the journey that brought me to this juncture in time.

This past week was our “excursion.” This word has been utilized in so many ways and has become so bland and mundane that it pales to even begin to describe the week-long gauntlet of this program. Our week began in Rabat, with a mis-set alarm, and me waking up 2 minutes before I needed to be at the center. After a hectic run around, and panicked last minute check over my luggage, it was off to the bus 10 minutes late, and making that awkward boarding of the bus that you make when everyone else has already staked out their spot, and you don’t really know what to do or where to sit… grade school all over again. After settling in and starting the journey, I had to say that my expectations of the impending journey were somewhat mixed. I had made a cross-country trip once before, and knew the pros and cons involved. It didn’t much help that the road to Marrakesh was the most boring of the entire trip.  Guess you could say that I just wasn’t expecting the sheer massive amount of sensory overload that waited for me mere hours away.

If the sensory overload of Morocco came rumbling through my mind like a tiger two months ago, then the sensory overload of Marrakesh hit me with the force of a freight train. Stress, that’s the only way to describe those first tense hours. It started with a frightening scene between a group of street kids, and continued through countless directional arguments. But, unlike the Kenitra fiasco, all worked out in the end. After a stressed but successful visit to a few historical sites, we made our way to the main square in Marrakesh, and I had another one of those moments that seems to fit the entire globe into the palm of your hand. It happened once to me while in the Netherlands, stumbling upon the 3 of the only 4 people I knew in the entire city of Amsterdam. This time, I happened upon the two fellow BU compatriots who split from us earlier in the day, at the exact same moment I lost the ones I had spent the day with up until that point. Then, I set out upon my journey to “take in the sounds of Marrakesh,” In the process seeing a snake charmer, being attacked by a monkey, almost losing my partner in the field exercise to a motorbike incident, and walking through areas of the medina that were far from “touristy.” The verdict was not positive for Marrakesh, but I felt that there was something from that negative assessment. Marrakesh was big, and rough. It was also rife with tourism, but I couldn’t help feel that underneath the veneer there was some truly remarkable experience to behold. Maybe it was in the constant dodging of harassment and endless drug offers, or even in overcoming the sheer mass of stress that descended upon me the second I set foot in the city… but one day I will find it. All this, and I only left Rabat 24 hours ago…

Ready? Gauntlet time. Leave Marrakesh at 8am, don’t reach Zagora until 6pm. Go! Long ride yes, but oh. my. god. I thought that I had been able to subsume that passionate desire to ski everything I saw, but the Middle Atlas range quickly proved to me that I was sorely mistaken. The mountains were reminiscent of Cottonwood Canyon Utah, and I quickly found myself wishing I could put off the desert for just one day to spend it in these mountains. I knew that wasn’t possible, so instead I turned up the Arcade Fire and put my head back and daydreamed the ride away. After a day of wishful thinking, we made our way to the “Northwestern Gate to the Sahara,” Zagora, and settled into our Kasbah styled hotel. Zagora was, in a word, amazing. “This is Africa, This is Africa” kept running through my head, and it finally felt like I had made it, this was where the last 4 years of my life came to fruition, I was truly “here,” and the swell of emotion that accompanied it made me feel like a giddy 5 year old all over again. After a walk around the city, and the purchase of the first 2 of my eventual 3 turbans, it began to sink in. Tomorrow, I sleep among the dunes of the Sahara.

The next day started off with my final turban purchase, and the commencement of the dialogues that would dominate the next few days. The shops who would give me an outrageous price, then tell me that they were giving me a “student price” only to have to tell them to go shove it before getting them to a price that was near where the actual cost would be. I also bought a Taureg cross, my first of two, since this one was to be “sacrificed” to the dunes of the Sahara. After watching the jewelry making process, we headed to have lunch with a nomad, “former” nomad, since he now lived a sedentary life. He was an interesting fellow, and the lentils were awesome. He had two wives, led his tribe and represented them for the government, after he had spent his life living amongst the dunes of the Sahara. It was hard to figure him out, but he was definitely a man who just exuded a sense of propriety and royalty, even as he sat in a hut that couldn’t even attempt to pass as “low income housing” in the US. After lunch, it was time to head for the Dunes. The ride through the dunes could only be described as “rough,” as we bounced around in the back of a legitimate land rover, being used for its legitimate purpose instead of overcompensating for some yuppie back in the states. After a fair amount of singing/shouting/getting thrown into one another and into the roof, we made it to camp, with plenty of time to run into the dunes and play in the sand. It’s funny, even at the age of 20, a group of people are still likely to jump around in the sand as if they were still in grade school if provided the chance. And why not? It was the most carefree I have felt in a long while, and you can’t really trade that for anything. After some romping in the dunes, it was time to ride the camels. I can’t say that it would ever become my preferred method of transport, but it was pretty damn cool. Camels have legs that fold about a thousand times, so getting up on one is somewhat akin to a roller coaster ride, only backwards. I must say that the night in the desert only built upon the epic nature of the day. It’s amazing how much can be done with so little. Mix sand with a bunch of college students, a group of Saharan Amiziri people, a few drums and a fire and all of a sudden you just finished the needs for an evening. I think this formula is a testament to how little we truly need to be happy, and how sometimes the best way to spend an evening is lying down on a sand dune (or a field if the dune is unavailable), and just staring at the stars. After a night in the Sahara, being woken up by camel sounds, we made our triumphant and somewhat sandy ride back out of the desert.

After the desert, we made our way to Risani to spend the night. We decided that swimming off the sandy haze that surrounded us would be a good idea, right? Wrong. Although we committed to a 5 min icy plunge into the salty pool of the hotel, it was far from enjoyable. But, far be it from me to pass up a challenge, so I made the plunge, and beat a hasty retreat with my fellow brave compatriots. Fes in the morning.

After an uneventful ride to Fes through Ifrane (Moroccan Switzerland. No Joke), I broke my communication fast and hit an internet café quickly. Our following day in Fes consisted of the basics, touring the medina, seeing people making everything I had been seeing in the souks (markets), and just reveling in the process of “how it’s made.” No epiphanies today, just a mental not that I need to return to Fes. One day was not enough.

After Fes, we made a stop in Volubilis. Nothing to terribly notable here. Beautiful Roman ruins in the Moroccan breadbasket, gorgeous. We got to see the most interesting group of Japanese tourists, which made my morning, but then it was onto our last stop (After lunch in the incredibly picturesque Moulay Idriss). Chefchaouen, here we come.

I can only describe Chefchaouen in two words. The first describes the clientele: Hippy. The second describes the feeling of this place: Cathartic. After an evening there, among the blue streets, drinking tea and talking, the hectic madness of the week past melted away. I was calm. That calm feeling continued, even though getting up at 6am to hike the mountains that Chefchaouen lay within. This hike was easily one of the highlights of a week of highlights. The steep terrain, the sense of accomplishment, the 2 Street Dogs who kept us company throughout our entire hike, and the scenery were indescribable. The entire hike took almost 6 hours of heavy footwork, and we didn’t reach the true summit, but reaching the ridge was amazing enough. That morning will forever etch a place in my memory among the ones I escape to when I need to smile, and I would rank this place right along with the Sahara as a must see. After a morning filled with physical exertion, I rested my way right back to Rabat, after a quick look into the olive oil making process.

In closing, I have to rank this past week among the all-time highlights of my travel experiences. The views, the experiences, the knowledge and the feelings were visceral, and it was a once in a lifetime week that I don’t think I will ever truly replicate again. I just hope Portugal and Spain are listening well… they have a damn hard act to follow.

Shuf!/Shufi! (Look!)