Moseying Around Morocco & Dublin

Morocco was so full of weird and wonderful. I was afraid before I went, because so many people told me about how dangerous it would be for a solo white female traveler to be in a Muslim country. To be honest, I was harassed there, but I was also shown kindness beyond mere hospitality. Men made kissy noises at me, tried to get my attention by hollering at me, looked me up and down, one tried to grab me, and my friend Callie has been followed home on multiple occasions. This experience isn’t unique to Morocco, though. Men in Italy, Greece, and the US have treated me in a similar way. I do think that men are more forgiven for those disgusting actions here in Morocco than other countries I’ve visited. Those terrible humans should not keep anyone from visiting this beautiful country, though, because Morocco has much to offer visitors.

Rabat felt like home quickly as the smells, streets, and winding passageways quickly reminded me of Guatemala. I loved getting to know the different paths through the maze of the medina by memorizing land marks like a mosque door way here, a mosaic there, the place where that one creepy dude is always standing, or a sequence of different colored walls. Callie’s host momma definitely made me feel at home as well. Jouharra is a beautiful women that started learning English by watching Oprah, which is amazing to me. The rest she’s learned from students she’s hosted over the years and from her job. Jouharra made us dinner every night we were in Rabat and welcomed me into her home one night. Two finches dubbed King and Queen also have free reign over Jouharra’s house. They fly in and out of the window she leaves cracked for them and have a couple of nests in the corners of the beautifully tiled walls.

We all went to Chefchaouen for a couple days in the middle of my Morocco trip, and the mountainous landscape was refreshing. We ate a wonderful diner at this restaurant Callie found us down in a corner of the medina and had a little adventure after a short food coma. I talked with a weaver in Spanish that day as well, feeling relieved to have been able to understand much of what he said.

The return to Rabat and remainder of my time in Morocco was restful, and I was thankful for the relaxed pace in the day. Upon my return, I received  conformation that I would begin teaching in Guatemala in January 2017, and I’m excited to be spending ten months there. Knowing there is another adventure planned is always exciting.

I’m in Dublin now, and I already miss hearing the calls to prayer, warmth, and rawness of Morocco. I pulled myself from my hostel bed cocoon to make the short walk to Trinity College and see the book of Kells, and it was definitely worth the 10 euro entry fee to walk into that library, smell nothing but old books, and imagine climbing the narrow ladders behind the roped off isles to thumb through the volumes that filled the tall shelves.

Tomorrow, I wake up way to early to head to Barcelona. I’m hoping my time there is filling with sipping wine, eating tapas, and ogling at architecture. My travels come to pause very soon, and I’m both anxious and appreciative of the month off I’ll be receiving at home.

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Change of Plans & Morocco

 

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From the terrace of our hotel

 

Morocco is so beautifully chaotic, and I’ve been shown more kindness than I could ever expect since I’ve been here. When I left the airport, I crossed the street to get a taxi but ran into a bus driver that knew exactly where I needed to go. While on the bus watching horse drawn carriages, bicycles, and scooters weave in and out of traffic, I talked to a German man on Holiday that hadn’t reserved accommodation. He said he’d go with me to mine, if that was okay, and I was thankful for the company through the street and maze of a Medina in Marrakech.

The hostel was small and had a lemon tree growing in the middle, but the owner was kind and the complementary breakfast cooked by his wife was nicer than any I’ve received in the US. I left after breakfast to get the bus to the train station, but ran into a Canadian guy and got a taxi with him to the train station instead. Now, I’m in Rabat hanging out with my friend Callie in a cozy hotel room and one of the most comfortable beds I’ve encountered in quite some time. Her host mom welcomed me graciously and made us a wonderful dinner last nigh. Callie’s mom and her mom’s partner are also here, and it’s nice to have some company to go exploring with.

We visited a massive cemetery, the beach, and some great shops today, and I had to restrain myself from blowing  my budget on carefully crafted lanterns, ceramics, and customs shoes (I may go back for the shoes though). The fabrics and rugs here are so impressive and reasonably priced. Someday, I’ll return with an empty pack.

After I return from Morocco on November 24th, I’ll hang out in Dublin for a couple days before heading to Barcelona where I’ll spend 3 days ogling at beautiful things, I’m sure. Then, I’m headed to Reykjavik, Iceland, for three days where I’m hoping I’ll see the northern lights and a blue lagoon, but, by then, I’m going to be so broke I might just look around the city for a few days. After Iceland, I fly back to Dublin then catch another flight back to Chicago.

I don’t have much money. So, I’m going to buy groceries and cook as much as possible instead of buying food out, and I’m hoping to do some couch surfing instead of paying for hostels, but we shall see what I’m able to find! If you’re reading this and know of a place I could stay in Reykjavik, that would help me a great deal.

Irish Cobs

I begged for a horse from the time I could talk until I realized it was probably never going to happen. To be fair, my mom did what she could putting me in horse camps and I traded work for being able to ride one summer, but living here at Irish Cobs between Ballinasloe and Athlone is the most regular and frequent time I’ve spent working with horses. I’ve been here one week as of today.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Horses are basically shit factories. I mean, I know they’re big animals, but my new Spanish friend, and fellow WWOOFer, Elena and I spend most of the morning scooping poop from the stables. After finishing, I have to give them all more hay knowing I’m just going to have to scoop their shit again in the morning.
  2. I somehow really enjoy the horse shit smell now. I don’t know what has happened to me, but the smell is sweet now. I guess it’s good, though, because everything I own now smells like it.
  3. Give new places three days before making your mind up. I honestly didn’t feel very comfortable here at first. The main house is so much nicer than any other place I’ve lived, and Elina and I have a whole trailer to ourselves. It’s just so different than anything I’ve experienced, but now, I really like it here, and am starting to enjoy the giant shit factories they call horses.
  4. I don’t want to work with horses. The family and other workers here are wonderful, but I found working in a horticulture setting and with cattle to be much more rewarding. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this work for the next week that I have left, but I won’t pursue this professionally.
  5. If you don’t do something for six years, you’re probably going to suck at it when you try again. Go figure, right? I used to be a pretty good rider. I’d go really fast on these big show horses and have a blast. Well, today, I fell off a pony twice, and it sucked a lot. Luckily, it bruised my pride more than my ass.

This time next week, I’ll be in Morocco visiting my lovely friend Callie. Hopefully, by then my legs won’t feel like noodles.

In other news, I’m doing a fundraiser for an organization I care deeply about called Ixtatan Foundation. If you would like to donate or share the fundraiser with your friends, you can do that here, and I’d greatly appreciate it!

Cavan to Galway

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10/31/16

Yesterday morning, I was sitting in my friend’s flat in Galway hearing sounds of the city as cars drove past four stories below, and some one was banging on what sounded like a massive steel wall. Seagulls were making their calls as they flew between the city and the bay, and my stomach was churning from the Guinness I consumed the night before.

After arriving in Galway two days ago, I found Holden tucked in the corner of a Starbucks. We caught up while walking to his flat where I dropped my things and we went to dinner. After dinner, we went to a new hip gastro pub and drank bourbon and gingers as we both longed for our Kentucky home. The next spot was kind of 80s retro. Then, we went ono the Crane where we listened to traditional music and drank Guinness until it was time to go home. I couldn’t have asked for a better night out on the town.

After showering and attempting to soothe my stomach with a scone and a coffee, Holden and I spent a very Irish day biking around Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands. It was breath taking, and the most beautiful sights couldn’t possibly be captured in a photograph.

This morning, people are still partying and singing in the street at 7am. This kind of morning seems very different from the ones experienced in Cavan, quiet except for the sounds of birds chirping and mice scampering across the floor. Before I left Cavan, I got to see a calf born with the help of a vet, and my hosts sent me warmly with veg from the garden and fruit bread that I got to share with new friends and old in Galway. Tomorrow, I head for a farm near Ballinasloe with horses, and I’m ready for the new adventure. 14875258_1118254864925450_1716192220_n