The rain in Spain falls mainly on… my tent?

Day three in Spain has me finally, finally in El Chorro. Or, Del Churro as I have fondly begun calling it. I boarded the train from Malaga and headed into the hills to be dropped off at what had to be the tiniest, quietest train station in existence. The town of El Chorro could be described as sleepy, but comatose is probably more apt.

I walked around for a bit to get my bearings and headed up the hill out of town to the Olive Branch, a popular haven for dirtbag and scummy climbers to gather and climb in peace. I knew it would be great and I was excited to be somewhere for an extended period of time instead of the stress of travelling somewhere new every couple of days.

I got there, nabbed a tent and got settled. Room with a view!

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My mother is undoubtedly peeved that I’ve finally made good on my threat to live in a tent (alas, not under a bridge. Yet), but it has a nice mattress and plenty of space inside! No complaints.

A sunny, warm day turned cold and rainy quicker than I could say, ‘I’m glad I packed my rain jacket.’ Hail soon was pouring from the sky, but thankfully my tent held up under the deluge. A few days later there was a big thunderstorm, and I could feel the ground rumble as the thunder rolled overhead.

Life in Del Churro is pretty fantastic. I get woken up by the sun and by chickens every morning. A herd of goats passed by my tent a couple of days ago. There are cats and dogs running about, and lots of great climbers from around the world to climb with and chat to.

I have a tent all to myself, and views of the beautiful valley outside. There is a pool that is a bit too cold to swim in at the moment, but a couple of the guys jumped in just for giggles and because someone lots at darts and a bet(there were butts. they were nice butts. but unexpected butts). This has now happened a few times.

There is someone willing to let me tag along to climb every day, although I get pretty tuckered out after awhile! I’ve gotten to climb at some really impressive locations thus far and am excited to be in a place where I can really get to know routes and practice getting better at climbing.

Someone is always doing or saying something funny. There are a lot of people who have been here for ages, others who have returned, but you can always tell who the new people are because they haven’t quite acclimated yet. Everyone is friends after a couple beers and a game of pool.

People cook dinners together and stay up late, and wake up later. We know we have all day to climb, and the crags are close enough to excuse a 1 or 2pm start. The sun is staying out later and later (woo!) and, overall, life in Spain is just to my fancy.

I’ve now been in Spain going on two weeks, and have contracted a plague-like cold that has kept me sequestered at camp or in my tent where I can cough and sneeze to my heart’s content. I have managed to get out for a bit of climbing or for a walk every day, but am still feeling a bit miserable. The wind has also been horrible which makes sleeping at night in my tent more than a bit difficult.

But, I have things to look forward to! A friend of mine from Belfast is arriving on Sunday, so I will have a buddy to climb with consistently and get to see a familiar face. Yay!

And thus I am halfway through my Spain trip (and in just one blog post! Go me!).

 

 

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From There to Here

My next challenge? Getting from Morocco to Spain. Let’s do this.

My Couchsurfing host dropped me off at the ferry terminal in Tangier where I caught an afternoon boat to Tarifa. Once in Tarifa I knew I had to play my cards right- I only had about 8 euros to get me to Malaga, where I had a money transfer waiting for me (thanks to the Bank of Mom). Whoosh.

The crossing only took about 35 minutes, and I was happy to be on to the next phase of my trip. At this point I knew the rest of my trip (excursions included Bosnia, Egypt, India and Southeast Asia before heading back to the US, my around the world journey completed) wasn’t going to happen due to my money struggles. Could I have kept going? Yes, I could have. But events from Tarifa to Malaga convinced me that going back to the US early was probably in my financial best interest, and in the interest of not getting any more grey hair than I already have.

Tarifa was a delightfully laid back beach town, full of tapas restaurants and bars and sunshine. I got there on a Sunday and things were pretty dead. For awhile I tried to find the bus station, which wasn’t signposted and not easily located. I asked for directions a couple of times and, when walking in the direction of the station (which I never found), decided to (literally) try my hand at hitch hiking.

Yeah. I was a bit nervous. But, like convincing myself to go for a run, lacing up my shoes/sticking out my thumb proved to be the hardest bit.

Until about 40 cars passed me and I wanted to cry. Can’t they see I’m just a lonely little white girl trying to get up the road?

The sun was going down and I really didn’t want to spend the night in a bush, huddled in my sleeping bag. I had no sooner scribbled ‘Malaga’ on the back of one of my maps than a car pulled over, the driver hopping out and clearing a space for my bags in the back before I had even turned around.

‘Where are you going?’ The older gentleman said.

‘Malaga.’

‘We’re going that way, hop in!’

And with that, I had successfully hitch hiked. The man and his wife were from Germany, vacationing in Spain for a couple of weeks. They had a son who had travelled the world, couch surfing and hitch hiking much like me. I attributed this to their willingness to pick me up in the first place, and was grateful for it. They were both a bit older than my parents and we kept a nice conversation running as we headed up the coast.

Past the Rock of Gibraltar, steaming too quickly towards the point where I’d have to continue forging my own way. They graciously dropped me in the town they were staying at, about 100 kilometers from Malaga. I thanked them profusely for the ride, and headed on into the night.

Thanks to a conveniently located Starbucks and a WiFi connection I located the bus station and, after walking up a mountain in the wrong direction, eventually found it. I forked over what was nearly the last of my precious stash of euros and secured my place on a bus to Malaga. Where would I stay when I got there? No idea.

Thankfully there were a couple little hostel/hotel things near to the train station, and I exhaustedly made my way into one. The guy at reception didn’t speak much English, but seemed to understand my plea for a room despite the fact that I had no money to pay for it…. but the money was coming, I promise! Here, take my passport!

For a stiff 45 euros a night I had a safe haven until I could get my money. I decided that, while this wasn’t in my budget, it was a break that my brain and body needed. I would take advantage of my own room, my own big bed, my own shower, and free shampoo. Partay!

Four euros in my pocket the next morning, burning a hole. I wanted coffee, a croissant, anything. Haven’t eaten since Morocco. Can’t bring myself to spend until I visit the Western Union, the holder of my financial safety net. I’m there when they open the doors.

‘There is a problem,’ said the Eastern European man behind the counter.

My face, everything, fell. What do you mean there’s a fucking problem? There aren’t SUPPOSED TO BE ANY MORE PROBLEMS. 

Life, as it turns out, never ceases to be problematic.

‘Your name. Is wrong.’

Well whoopdefuckingdo.

I went back to the hotel and explained my ongoing predicament to another non-English speaking receptionist. He seemed to understand that the teary eyed American in front of him could pay tonight, but needed to stay one more day, and if there were any more troubles she would cry right here in the lobby, sir. I locked myself in my room for the afternoon with Netflix, my sorrows and a pile of dirty socks I washed in the bathroom sink like a prairie woman. It didn’t help much.

Waiting for the hours to tick by until the time zones caught up with my saviors, my parents, who could help their 24 year old financially (in)dependent daughter out with her international life of travel fraught with disaster and inconvenience. It shouldn’t be this hard, and yet it is. I want a trip to go by where I remain in control, at least of my finances. Everything I took for granted seems to be too much to ask.

Finally, the text. It’s sorted out. I can’t relax until I’m back, same Eastern European man behind the window, same information shoved through the glass.

‘Here you go,’ he said, depositing those bright shiny coins and papers through the glass. For a society so advanced why do we value these little bits of paper? They’re not so important until they’re gone.

I ran out of the Western Union, back to the hotel. It’s ok now, Mom, thankyouthankyouthank you I owe you so big. Yes, I’ll buy you breakfast when I get back. And coffee. Loveyoumissyou.

To the receptionist. Here is too much money I didn’t want to spend, but thank you anyway. Passport, please.

To the grocery shop around the corner- OH MY GOD EAT ALL THE THINGS but within reason. I still have a month left.

Whoosh. Did I mention I also slept through a 6.1 earthquake? Because that totally happened as well. Spain is testing my anxious brain to the freakin’ limit.

 

Tango in Tangier

From Chaouen I was off to Tangier, a city of old and new and sun and sand and tangos and hangovers. Before I even reached the door my host had piled my bags in his car, introduced me to his two friends, and whisked me away to a free concert held at the local branch of the French Institute.

The band was a cool rock-jazz fusion, and my host danced his way through it. His enthusiasm was infectious and I caught myself getting back in the groove of life. He was hosting another couchsurfer from the Czech Republic, who was really nice. She and I chatted long into the evening as the only non-French speakers in the group, although the rest did their best to make us feel welcome.

The evening was spent dancing at a local salsa club, which was really fun! I was pretty tired, though, and deeply relished my luxurious couch that night.

My last full day in Tangier was spent rock climbing! Now that’s sure to put a pep in my step. My host had a friend who was an accomplished climber, and we picked up a hearty troupe of international friends along the way. There was also wine, and sammiches. Recipe for success!

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We headed to the ocean, near the Straits of Gibraltar. Gorgeous! The climbing was fun and easy, and I enjoyed being in the sun. The wine helped, too 🙂

That night was spent at a party in the old part of Tangier, in a house that I will envy probably for the rest of my life. It was full of artwork and was tall and narrow, with a great rooftop from which you could see the whole of Tangier and Spain across the water on a clear day. There were drinks, snacks and dancing.

The next morning I took a jaunt around the city, and walked along the beach to the old town. Kids played football, families picnicked and I saw no less than 5 dead rats washed up on the beach. Eeeeeww.

Rats aside, the city is vibrant and I really like it!

I learned a lot of things in Morocco. I learned that, while Couchsurfing is an amazing community of people, sometimes it backfires. You don’t always get the experience you want, but when you do it is really worth it. People are incredibly kind and generous. Sometimes it is worth it, however, to pay a bit more money to get the experience you want out of your short time in a country. Basically, do what you need to do to keep yourself happy, comfortable and sane. You will never regret that.

Then it was time for Spain… More adventures to come!

You’re Kidding, Right?

The next day I was off to a town just north of Rabat called Kenitra. I would be meeting another Couchsurfing guy to travel to a place called Chefchaouen. This guy was a typical reggae loving hippy and seemed nice enough, if a bit clueless. But first, I had to wait a little while for him to arrive.

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So, I do what I usually do, which is find coffee. Which would be easy in many other parts of the world, but is nearly impossible in a bullshit patriarchal society where public space is the sole domain of men.

I walked past café after café filled to the brim with nothing but men. Men watching soccer, men drinking coffee, men playing cards. Nowhere were there females. I finally found refuge in one café where there was a gal drinking coffee with her husband and daughter.

Really, all you want is a cup of tea and a snack, but instead you get the patriarchy.

It’s not that I can’t settle down at any of the other cafes I passed- it’s that I don’t want to. I don’t want to be the only white person, or only female. I want to feel comfortable in my environment, not stared at. That’s too much to ask here, and although in a sense I’m used to it and expected it, I resent the hell out of it.

Oh well. Caffeine consumed and work done I went back to the station to meet my couchsurfing host. He bounded in off a train with a friend fresh from visiting his family. We greeted and proceeded to his house nearby, which was the physical embodiment of the word ‘grungy.’ And not in the adorable, flannel-wearing Pacific Northwest kind of way.

This place was a dump. I’ve lived in some pretty questionable places, but this took it to a whole new level. Three closet-sized rooms shared one bathroom and one small shower; the refrigerator was crowded in between the water heater and the sink, with one small burner serving as cooking facilities. The walls were the dingy brown of men who don’t live with their mothers, the bachelor pad an unrefreshingly dreary reminder that sometimes life doesn’t get better when you leave home.

My couchsurfer’s room smelled of unwashed armpits and stale drugs, each mattress gracing the floor like a limp banana peel. Clothes were haphazardly piled about, a drum and guitar resting in the corner. I tried to be nice- living in small spaces can be a challenge, one that I am familiar with.

He energetically shoved the guitar in my hands and picked up the drum- we were going to meet his friends to play music in the park. Ok, sounds like it could be fun. I was transported back to the days of drinking in the park in Jordan with my friends after late night work shifts.

However, I hadn’t peed all day nor had I had dinner… these two needed functions distracted me from fully enjoying the evening. All his friends were really nice and seemed not to mind my intrusion on their weekly jam session. Three hours later the session wrapped up and I, cold and still hungry, was introduced to my host’s roommate.

‘Oh cool!’ I thought. ‘His friend lives in the room next to him, that’s kind of cool.’

Oh, how silly of me. Not only were these two roommates, but we would also be joined by the roommate’s girlfriend. Three’s a crowd and four is just ridiculous.

So there we were, three friends and one stranger trying to manoeuvre around one another in a space the size of a human sardine can. Dinner was produced which improved my tolerance of the situation slightly. I tried to be patient, knowing that a free bed/couch/mattress on the floor was, after all, free.

My tolerance was shot like a racehorse with a broken leg the next morning when my host disappeared for two hours without any notice and the roommate and his girlfriend proceeded to get it on with Me. Sitting. Right. There.

Now, I get it. You’re unsupervised by parents in a highly restricted, sexually repressed society. You’re young and going to take advantage of the time you have with your significant other. But, really? Right here, right now? I have seriously big issues with people who snore, people who fart in their sleep, and people who do the nasty within sight and hearing range. Get your shit together, people, this isn’t the goddamn circus.

I was beginning to realize that there is a reason people travel in their 20s, and it is because very few people later in life think it’s ok to share a room with three strangers on a floor mat. In fact, I was realizing that I wasn’t sure it wasn’t ok now. I was also reminded of the lesson I had learned in a hostel in Nazareth, which was to never, ever smell the sheets/blankets/pillows. It’s really for your own good.

That highly uncomfortable experience survived, I was peeved but happy to be heading north to a place called Chefchaouen by bus later that day. We packed up and headed to the small bus station which was overwhelming and crowded and confusing. This bus managed to buck the trend of smelling like pee, and instead smelt of fish. Hhmmm.

The old woman in the row next to us had a hacking cough and a bag in which she hawked her spit wads. This, naturally, was gross, so I plugged myself into my savior of an ipod and blissfully ignored the rest of the trip through rural Morocco.

We arrived in Chefchaouen at night, and walked uphill through the city on a mission that I didn’t quite understand. What the hell were we looking for? We had nearly ascended the mountain behind the city when the boys (my host had brought along two friends) decided they were hungry. So we walked BACK DOWN THE FUCKING MOUNTAIN to the city, got sandwiches, and set up camp not 200 meters from the main road we had driven in on in the very recent past.

My ratio of patience to bullshit was wearing very thin.

My tent was on an incline and I spent most of the evening with a rock dug in my back, sliding towards the door; restful it was not. The day dawned with driver’s ed being held on the road outside our camp, which was entertaining.

Back into the old city of Chefchaouen, which is beautiful and blue! The streets and houses are painted all different shades of my favorite color, and being surrounded by mountains endears me to this place to no end.

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I would be a lot more endeared to my travelling companions if they would remember that I need to be fed, or would listen to me when I talk. Right now I feel like a small, American monkey making little chirping sounds and being stared at. Breakfast took third place behind finding black market vodka, which would probably have made them go blind had the boys been successful in their hour-long search, and climbing a nearby hill to a mosque which overlooked the city.

I’m all for hikes, and I’m all for beautiful views. I’m also all for knowing where I’m going so that I could, you know, bring enough water or get some snacks to keep me from ripping the heads off of my travel companions. Messing with my meals and my sleep makes me really, really cranky.

We finally did get breakfast, and my anger was stilled for about 10 minutes before my host revealed that we’d be hiking three hours up a mountain to get to some waterfalls. Actually, he didn’t say it was three hours until we were already hiking and I was already hot, sweaty, tired, and swearing, laden down with water I could drink and my stupid, heavy rucksack.

Eventually someone stuck out a thumb at a passing truck and we hitched a ride up to the national park, where the waterfalls were. Once we got there we were informed that we couldn’t camp in the park, but could leave our stuff in one of the buildings and camp in an unused parking lot for the night. Sounds good enough to me, I thought. As usual, my travel companions had other ideas that weren’t shared with me.

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We walked a few minutes into the park, which had a lovely river running through it and mountains all around. It was peaceful and quiet, and some of my stress faded away. We didn’t even attempt to make it to the fabled waterfalls; instead, the boys stopped on the footpath and chattered to each other for an hour. That was useless.

I then proceeded to witness the most inept display of outdoorsmanship I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. The boys had neglected to gather firewood before it got dark, as they had forgotten to set up their tents or do anything else which required more than the light of a cell phone. Fuckin’ amateurs. We had managed to get food for dinner which sat, untouched, as they tried and failed to get a fire started. For some reason one of them had left the package of bread out on the ground, which I had placed higher up a few times only to find it back on the ground again. Whatever. A few stray dogs had been wandering about during the day, and one friendly one had stuck around at the edge of our campsite.

A few minutes later I turned around from my evening’s entertainment of three Moroccan men trying to light a fire to find that the stray dog had eaten all of the bread, except for one piece.

‘Guys, the dog ate the bread.’

My host had this annoying habit of nervously chuckling after I spoke. Every time. I would say something or ask a question, and he would do this weird laugh and then go, ‘huh?’ like he didn’t understand me. I know English as a second language is difficult, but I had a feeling this was less of a language barrier issue and more of a smoked too much of the old reefer issue.

‘Guys, the dog ate the bread.’

*Nervous chuckle.*

‘No, seriously, the dog ate the bread.’

*Nervous chuckle.*

‘Ok. I’m going to go ahead and let you figure out why that’s not funny.’

I retired to the tent.

Five minutes later- ‘What happened to the bread?!’

Me- ‘THE  F****NG DOG ATE IT.’

This trip wasn’t going well, nor was it about to get better.

Eventually we got more bread and had dinner, at which point I was well ready to get into bed and sleep. I was in my pajamas and nearly blissfully unaware of my surroundings when my host shook me.

‘Liz.’

‘Hhhrrrmmph.’

‘Liz.’

‘NO.’

‘We’re moving.’

Like hell we are.

I made it clear that at no point was I going to move. There was no reason to move. I was sleeping. It was night time. Whatever fucked-up sense of nomadic tendencies my host was having at 11pm, I wasn’t catering to.

I went to sleep.

And was rudely awakened at 6am to my host shaking me, telling we were moving camp.

You massive motherfucker.

So there I was, in my pajamas, freezing cold in the Moroccan mountains, tramping up the hills of a national park to create an illegal camp, all because some dude who offered me a free place to sleep dragged me there. Life lesson, folks- don’t put up with this sort of bullshit, ever. The fact I made it this far is a testament to how badly I still need to pay attention to this lesson in my own life. We found a spot, set up camp, and I angrily went back to sleep without a word to my host, who was now deeply on my shit list.

A few hours later I was greeted with a sarcastic ‘good morning’ in Arabic from the boys when I staggered out of my tent, still angry. My worries were now focused on an entirely different matter, which was charging my computer. Contrary to the camper boys, I had a job and I needed to do it. Despite numerous requests to my host, he ignored or didn’t care that I actually had things to do. He and the boys were going to hike a further two or three hours into the mountains to see the waterfalls- I packed my shit and went to a hostel.

Did I want to see the waterfalls? Yes, indeed I did. But I wanted to see them when I knew what was going on. When I had power over my own schedule, when my host wasn’t making me feel like I was on a need-to-know basis (and up to this point I didn’t need to know anything, apparently). I wanted to see them when I could also do my job, something I’ve managed to do over many countries thus far.

So I packed my rucksack and walked away. I had the power to walk away. I had the power to not put up with people and situations that didn’t benefit me. My host looked hurt that I was leaving- why go now when we’re having so much fun? But I didn’t care. I don’t care about your feelings. I care more that I have a lot more travel to do, and have to keep myself healthy and sane for it.

Go, go, go, and don’t apologize.

I found a taxi back to Chefchaouen. The taxi driver had a bag of oranges he shared with me, which was the nicest gesture. He deposited me in Chefchaouen and I found my hostel, a place I had booked when the roommates were making me uncomfortable just a couple short days ago. Always have a backup plan.

Thus the remainder of my days in Chaouen were spent as I wanted them to be. Sleeping in, making friends in the hostel, oh, and finding out my bank had cancelled my bank card because of ‘suspicious activity.’

Bitch, please. That so-called suspicious activity was me, buying a plane ticket to visit a friend of mine in Egypt. After a couple phone calls to my bank, who are officially dicks (I’M QUITTING THE BANK, a la Chandler and Ross), I realized that I had no access to my money (some of which I actually worked hard for) and wouldn’t be able to gain access to it because my bank apparently doesn’t believe that Americans travel.

Fuck.

That problem heavy on my mind, I budgeted how much I had to get me to my next destination of Spain. Just barely, maybe enough. I drowned my sorrows that evening with hostel mates who graciously included me in their barbeque, and some lovely soul who brought whiskey. The whiskey warmed my soul as the sounds and smells of Chefchaouen, the beautiful blue city, rose into the starry sky above.

Casablanca and Rabat

The bus back to Marrakech left at 6:30 the next morning… at least there was coffee. I said goodbye to my host who really had given me a great start to the whole Couchsurfing thing in Morocco.

Survived the long ride back to Marrakech and caught a train to Casablanca, where after a couple transportation mishaps managed to meet up with my next host. I only got to stay with her for one night, but she and her housemates were really nice! Getting there late and waking up early had me all out of sorts, so I did what any woman raised in the greater Seattle area would do… I found a Starbucks.

You can judge me, I don’t care. I wanted that caramel macchiato real bad.

So, in the comfort of the green mermaid, I browsed the interwebs and got some work done in a place where no one knew me and I didn’t have to socialize. Huzzah!

To break the funk and to get my fill of my short time in Casablanca I headed just up the road to the world’s second largest mosque, which was pretty impressive. Since it was Friday the mosque wasn’t open for tourists, but I enjoyed the view and the call to prayer anyways.

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Unfortunately on my way back I saw a dead kitten and a kitten that was still alive, but had recently been hit by a car and was all twitchy and bloody. So that made me kind of really sad.

Injured kitties aside, Casablanca was really beautiful and I wish I could spend more time there. But, onwards to Rabat!

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My host in Rabat found me at the train station after I’d eaten all the things and drank all the coffee, at least what I could within my budget. His flat was really close to a mosque which gave me flashbacks to one of my flats in Jordan.

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The view of Rabat from his roof was great, and he gave me lots of recommendations for things to see around the city.

My Rabat host was nice, but a bit nervous seeming. He didn’t seem to know what to do with me, which is fine- I can entertain myself, and don’t mind having an excuse not to socialize sometimes. We managed to make it through coffee and breakfast together before parting ways, me to explore and he to do whatever it is Moroccan engineering students do on weekends.

Rabat is a gloriously chill city, right on the water, historic and quiet. It even has a massive library!

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Tamlalt

After Marrakech was a long (loooong) bus ride to a small village called Boumalne-Dades. No, I can’t pronounce it, either. The bus inexplicably smelt of urine which only got worse as the day got hotter. Thankfully I was able to sleep through a lot of the trip, which took about 6 hours. I didn’t realize Morocco was so big…

We passed the town of Ouzazarte (also can’t reliably pronounce) which had two massive film studios outside of it. I guess they film lots of movies here?

Over the world’s scariest mountain pass- we’re talking no guardrails (there was one but it wouldn’t have stopped a toddler on a tricycle) and maybe a bus and a half wide at best- we made it to Boumalne, where I was meeting a guy from Couchsurfing. He lived in an even smaller town outside of the village called Tamlalt. I hopped off the bus and there he was, waiting with sandwiches. Good start!

We headed a few kilometers up the valley to his village, which was beautiful and surrounded by epic rocks. I met his family, who were all really nice, and settled in for the next four days.

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That night we made tangine and tea, which both were delicious. My host was lovely and gave me my own room, which was awesome because I also had wifi. Score!

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Lots of yummy coffee and tea proceeded the events of each day, which consisted of a lot of walking through some extraordinary places. We took a hike through a nearby gorge which involved a little rock climbing, which was great. We ate lunch by the river that runs through the valley and I was content.

The next day we adventured up the road to another gorge, via ‘taxi’. This taxi was a minivan, and because it was so full we stood in the boot. It was kind of hilarious.

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We got out near another stream and kicked about for a bit before grabbing snacks and walking back down the valley. Saw the windiest road I’ve ever seen and lots of sheep and goats wandering about. On the way back we saw lots of kasbahs, which are the old mud buildings that predated the villages that exist around them today.

I learned a lot about Berber culture from my host, and it was really interesting to see this different side of Moroccan history. I think I was most impressed by the stars at night, though- you can even see the Milky Way out here! I’ve decided I need to spend a lot more time staring into space.

My final day in Tamlalt was spent getting to Tingir, another town near a spot called the Todra Gorge. Todra has a bunch of sweet rock climbing in it, and I really want to plan a trip back here to climb all the things! We squished in a taxi and made our way across the moonscape of the desert until we reached the city, which was busy but not overwhelming like Marrakech.

Todra was gorgeous, and as I poked around I saw lots of things I want to climb! We arrived back pretty late to Boumalne and managed to catch the last taxi going to Tamlalt, with a bunch of other locals that my host knew (or was related to). It was like being in a taxi with a bunch of people from my home town you just happened to pick up by the side of the road, haha.