A Travellerspoint blog

The Colours of Africa

where the earth meets the ocean

sunny 20 °C
View Gap Year on mythxation's travel map.

I don't even know how I will be able to describe the past week. It's been a whirlwind of activity, new faces and cultures.

The city of Marrakech is a bizarre mixture of old and new, local and foreign. The souks, winding streets of shops filled with colourful jewlery, artisan crafts, clothing rugs and everything beautiful have held a lot of my attention. It is for shopping, socializing, learning. I have learned about berber herbal remedies, cloth dying, woodworking, and how to wrap a proper headscarf. I have tasted the freshly squeezed orange juice and cooked tajines of Jamaa el fnaa.

I visited a hamman, a local bathhouse where you are washed, scrubbed, pumiced, and the optional massage. I spent new years eve in a taxi with three friends, listening to the countdown in arabic and smoking cigars, celebrating with the driver.

I also spent a few nights in Agadir, went up to the old Kasbah, dipped my toes in the ocean, saw a beautiful sunset. Met so many amazing people, the locals there are so friendly, we were taken to a secretive lounge with live music and shishah... good company. We played pool with some Moroccans, visited a goat-covered river valley where we were invited in by six men to a fire-cooked tajine.

I also travelled to the Ourika valley and hiked up the snowy mountain, saw the seven waterfalls. I was not feeling good emotionally; I cried up and down the mountain.

Now I am in Essaouira, still sick and alone; however I have met a beautiful man who I feel as if I have known forever. We talked in his shop all afternoon, he took me to the beach and out for tea. I left my doc martins on the ocean shore, they are free for any person or the sea to adopt. It was finally time. Four years of memory, I feel as if I am somewhat reborn.

By the way, I am not answering emails, french arabic keyboards are nightmarish. But I am reading them all, keep it coming.

Posted by mythxation 02:43 Archived in Morocco Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Diamond in the Rough

Experiences beyond my predictions.

sunny 17 °C

So I'm in Morocco. I bussed from Orgiva to Algeciras yesterday, and took the ferry. It was stressful, going through the whole bit. The ferry ride was long and boring, I was anxious about where I was going to stay in Tangier that night... as I know the city can be a big ripoff. So while exiting the ferry, I had forgotten to get my passport stamped, I trudged back into the boat and waited with some other people for an hour for the guy to come back with the stamp. I met this Norweigan guy who was traveling by car to Mali with his friend. I explained my situation and he said I could stick with them for a ride to Marrakech! Lucky lucky.

So that night was got through the hellish car insurance line, with people and cars just lined up, screaming, confusion. Some guy appointed himself as our guide, which I knew was a scam but I wasn't really interested in looking for my own accomodation in the city. So he found us an okay place, and a beautiful restaurant for dinner, food to such caliber I have never seen before in my life, gourmet, excellence. A tiny plate of sugared pumpkin, shredded cucumber in sauce, whipped red pepper, pastries, couscous with cabbage, squash, meat for the boys, cinnamin plum and oranges for dessert, and Moroccan mint tea with cookies. Five courses, brilliant service, just great fun. And the guys took the tab.

The next day we headed up early, leaving the hard hotel beds. We drove and drove, passing all manner of vehicle, 8 men packed into a tiny taxi, cars with boxes of sheep on the roof or pulled behind, people peeping out of trailers and trunks. We ate at some modern roadstop restaurant, and kept on. Suddenly, we were in Marrakech.

I left the guys, found a taxi to the railway station to meet the guy who's hostel I would be working for... but I was 3 hours early. I tried calling, phone didn't work, taxis didn't know the place. I waited 3 hours, bored and stressing, when he didn't show I tried the phone again and was told ot meet at another locale, a bus stop. I taxiied there, found it int he traffic, waited for another hour... hit on by three creepy men. The phone only took cards, I was alone and near the end of my rope. I didn't know what to do. The next guy that hit on me, I asked him if he knew the place, in vain. He did, and said he would take me there, all the while telling me about my beautiful eyes and how he would like to meet me tomorrow and all this. We walked down some dark alleys and I kept my distance, adrenaline just crazy... but eventually I saw the sign, "Hotel Riad Rahba", like water in the desert. The guy left without much hassle. It turns out the world isn't all too scary after all.

So I settled into the hostel, met two great people straight away, one of which a great German guy named Marco who showed me this internet place. <3. I love life again. And the way that spoken Arabic just rolls off the tongue, soft and strong and thick.

By the way, there is a cat at the window. I am at home.

Posted by mythxation 14:55 Archived in Morocco Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Further Adventures in Orgiva

nothing time of no plans

sunny 16 °C

Shanti just left for home. It hasn´t hit me yet, I know I´m really sad about it. We´ve spent two solid months together, talking only to each other, we´ve both been on top of the world and on the bottom; we have a great bond. I hope distance won´t erode it.

I can´t believe Christmas is in less than a week. The consumer bombardment of seasonal carols and decorations I´m used to at home simply doesn´t exist here... there are random decorations here and there, or an Xmas commercial on TV, but otherwise it really hasn´t hit me.

Lately I´ve had a whole bunch of plans that really haven´t worked out in terms of travel. I don´t really care. I have really changed my philosophy on the whole thing since I left home. It isn´t about the number of places you see, it´s the time you spend, the people you meet... the quality of the whole exerience. Travel isn´t something separate from life, it IS LIVING.

Today I had my birth chart done by a profesional astrologer from up the road. I really gained a lot of insight into my emotional self, which is on a theme of the past while of learning. The things she was able to pinpoint about my life and my personality were startlingly real and clear to me.

I´ve had a few really great days here. Chipping up garden material, planting veg, helping Ainsley with his compost heat exchange radiator... and going to Granada for a day to visit the Alhambra again. I can´t even describe how much I love the Alhambra... it´s just the whole feeling of those really ancient places. You can feel the people who have been there before, the feelings and the words that still live in the walls. Ahh.

Right now Ainsley, Claire and their two friends are decorating for the party here on Thursday, in celebration of their birthdays, and of Christmas. It should be a blast. I will stay here for Christmas at least. And THEN I have some ideas... but I won´t speak about the future, only what has already passed, because it can all change with the drop of a hat.

Posted by mythxation 07:50 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Perpetual Tea-time

Saved in Orgiva

sunny 16 °C

So I ended up staying with Neil for only a week. He is a nice guy, sure. Picking olives was easy work, I really didn´t mind it. I just couldn´t handle the loneliness that comes with being given work by and living with a single man 60 years my senior. He was peculiar, only burning twigs and dried orange peels in his woodstove, and living on a diet of rice, tomato, and copious amounts of red pepper. After the couple from Quebec left, he remarked that he must have taught them a lot about cooking. They were less impressed with him than I was, we reunited briefly in the market yesterday to talk with relief about escaping Neil´s.

I am now staying with Ainsley and Claire, the WWOOF hosts of Shanti. They have a beautiful house and garden, two guesthouses and lovely pets. They are in their fifties, and have the perfect mixture of structure and laid-back sociability in their lives. It´s delicious, Ainsley is a quirky artist and Claire an on-the-ball reflexologist.

I just came back from Baraka, the local Moroccan cafe; they serve the best falafells I´ve ever tried, and have an entire menu solely for teas. I just sat and wrote.

Last weekend I visited Beneficio again and met a lot of interesting people. A 41 year old guy from Madagascar who insisted he was a mountain elf, a couple of beautiful Czech girls, and a soulful Israeli songstress. I played with some homemade poi, we visited someone´s yurt for tea and Hebrew songs, then moved to a large teepee for Bajams, Indian chanting with guitar accompaniment.

The next day, I hitchhiked with a few other girls to Almenecar for the big market. Lots of people, lots of goods... soon the Beneficio people began to group outside MacDonalds... 4, then 7, then 15... then about 25 of us. Naturally the drumming began, then singing, guitar and flute, dancing, poi, juggling and general grooving. It was beautiful; purposeless, but passersby seemed really curious. I found a ride back, which really turned into an epic journey, with a young Spanish couple, child, dogs, and rusty van.

Over the past few days I´ve been chilling here, reading and drinking a lot of tea, just enjoying life. A few days ago I climbed up this smaller mountain in the middle of the valley, and I could see snowcaps to the north, and the ominous blue mountains to the south, the snaking roads along the rolling hills to the east, with the sun high in the sky and wind in my hair... okay it´s beautiful.

Posted by mythxation 09:52 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Beneficio, Beneficio, Beneficiooooao

Not in Kansas Anymore

sunny 15 °C

So I´ve left the Canaries. Flew to Granada. I was with Shanti in the city. It took us a while to find out hostel, but we got settled in quickly once we entered the place. It was beautiful, and full of beautiful people. We sat at the bar and met two irish hippie guys and a californian who were rocking the place. Soon, beer was drank and faces were painted, drums and reggae was played. We met people from Autralia, Brasil, Britain, Panama... it was great. Ronan, one of the Irish guys talked to me for a few hours and gave me a really neat necklace he made.

The next day we awoke to a free breakfast, and set out on the town. We visited all the main sights of the city and explored. Back at the hostel it was another party night with the same three guys and more people all over. There was poi, chess, techno, and all kinds of languages... and more face paint. The next day Shanti and I walked a bit in the morning and took the bus to Orgiva.

In the town, we found our respective hosts. Neil met me on a bike and showed me the market which was closing up just then... I have never seen so many dreadlocks in my LIFE. This place is packed with the old hip and the new age, with three ¨communes¨. So to Neil´s house. A Quebec couple was there, they have left now. Neil is old but spunky and young inside. I´m picking olives for work now.

On Sdaturday I was in the town and met this guy I had met at the hostel in Granada... long story short he invited me to visit the commune of Beneficio in the mountains. We got a ride up in a group. There were crazy people and crooks in the beginning, but eventually I made my way to the main teepee full of so many people singing, drumming, playing guitar and flute, love and fire and energy... loved it. Met a gorgeous Swiss guy. aThe next morning, I happened upong Nerya, a spiritual teacher from Israel staying with a family in Orgiva... he took me to visit a few people and showed me around the place. It´s so huge... teepees, tents, domes, and permanent houses all over. Gardens, trees, mountains, streams, a freshwater spring. Nerya and I talked so much about spirituality and life, we really connected. I felt so so calm and centred with him. We got a ride back to the town together at dark.

Beneficio really has opened up my world... I can´t wait to visit again, and to see Nerya at the market on thursday. I have met so many people, so much language and individuality and uniqueness. So much power and simplicity. This entry isn´t reflective, it´s a summary, because I haven´t had time to think on all I have learned and discovered. I love people. I have felt and seen the young and beautiful and real over the past week, and I really believe in people right now.

Posted by mythxation 09:17 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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