Hurts so good. Why I travel.
I recently went on a two week trip to Morocco. Before I left I was reflecting on how excited I was. I'm a very curious person and it's not enough for me to see photos or a movie of a place. I know it's a big, beautiful, complicated world out there and it's all happening whether we are aware of it or not. Well I want to be aware of it, first hand. I want to see it and smell it and feel the air and look into people's eyes.
This is not always easy. But I've learned this is the way I like to challenge myself. I like to throw myself out there across the globe and see what I'm made of. This made me think of the physical challenges that many people love to put themselves through. I think it's also to see what they are made of. They run a marathon or climb a mountain or jump off of something super high and see if they can survive it right? It feels exhilarating. And they feel a true sense of accomplishment after. I see this all the time and for a while I tried a few of those physical challenges to see if I got the same high. I've learned, I absolutely do not. Physical challenges seriously do not one thing for me. I'm actually bummed after. And nothing about it felt exhilarating. This has always weirded me out, like what is the matter with me and why do I get nothing out of flinging myself off a building with a cord attached to a diaper? Am I not willing to face something hard head on? Why not?
Recently I realized, I do like to challenge myself, but in a totally different way. And many people hate to do what I love. I love to pick a spot on the globe and go there and see what happens. I usually do not like to have much planned out. I like to take it as it comes, let things unfold. It does hurt sometimes. Fear of the unknown can be truly scary. But I've learned for me it's a "hurts so good" kind of thing. I like it.
Travel is the kind of pain that I get a ton out of. If I can throw myself into an environment where I do not speak the language, can not even read the characters, am not familiar with the customs, do not have the correct clothing, and STILL make a human connection with someone! Winning. It feels scary. Where am I? What are these guys thinking, what is important to them, do we have anything in common? Don't you just want to know?? I do.
Morocco was on the menu this year. My husband and I poured over photos and travel articles and chose where we wanted to explore. Morocco definitely checks a ton of boxes for me. So so different from home, and so beautiful and mysterious.
Maybe I'm getting older, but I don't backpack anymore. Those days are gone. I make reservations at nice hotels, hopefully with a pool. After a long day of getting lost and consuming food I'm not used to and struggling to communicate with strangers and navigate unfamiliar customs, I like to get in some calm water. It's the very best way for me to relax, always has been.
This year for the first time ever we hired this super cool company called Indagare to book the trip for us. I heard the owner speak on the Girlboss Radio podcast (love that one!!) and she was a perfect fit for travelers like us. I don't think we would use them for every single trip, but to a country like Morocco it was such a smart move. Our trip was paced exactly right and we stayed in Riads and small cool properties that were just perfect for us. We also had a guide and driver for the first week which was so awesome. It took a ton of frustration and confusion out of the 2 big cities of Fez and Marrakesh. We would spend the morning with Abdel and then have the afternoon and evening to explore and get lost and blow it on our own. Perfect balance.
We did book our own airfare. Because, seriously we can book our own airfare. Or can we?? Because after an awe inspiring trip, we arrived at a tiny airport in the Sahara Desert to no reservation. And the only morning flight leaving without us. It's such a long story you guys, and it makes my heart pound just thinking about it. My best friend thinks I should tell the whole thing on The Moth, it's that crazy. Maybe someday I will. But let me tell you, we had 2 days of torture. Where no one would help us or even pay attention to us. And a PSA for you is to never book anything with Expedia. Never. Do not do it. #neverexpedia
We arrived home many thousands of dollars poorer, many pounds lighter, and severely dehydrated from the food poisoning and tears shed. Actually the crying was just me, Jeff really shines in a disaster. (Well, possibly the shining was sweat. I meantioned the food poisening right?) I was so severely shook up after those 2 days and thinking to myself - THIS! This is why people are scared to travel!! Why would we put ourselves through something so horrible? Even the chance of it is enough to scare most people out of traveling to places like Morocco. Lord help me, I get it.
I like to keep a journal. I don't write in it every day. But writing helps me process things. I went back to look at what I wrote during this trip before that last airport and shit hit the fan, and I'm going to share it here. It's so good for me to see it, and to let time fade that terrible 2 days so I can hopefully just remember this and keep traveling.
Things I learned in Morocco:
- The call to prayer is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. It is such a nice reminder to be present throughout the day. 5 times to stop, breathe, maybe close the eyes. We heard all different kinds of voices make the call. In the mountains a young boy did it with a voice so beautiful it made me cry.
- I didn't learn, but confirmed how lucky I am to be sharing life with Jeff. Exploring, laughing, and discussing it all.
- People who are unhappy, are unhappy for reasons that money can't fix.
- As much as I LOVE photographs, and am always striving to show the truth of a place, photos can not do justice to the scope or scale or experience of it. So I travel. This is why. To feel the air, to smell it, to hear the sounds. To be somewhere far away and unfamiliar. To see that basically everyone in the world wants the same things. We want to be comfortable, we want to laugh, we love our kids. I often think of Anne Frank's amazing quote, especially when the world seems scary and people are doing insane things like shooting guns into crowds, schools, and churches.
"In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart"
When I'm at home alone reading about atrocities...I wonder. But when I travel, I know she's right.