Sometimes, as a traveller, it’s hard not to look forward to your next destination. I suppose it is the case with anything in life, when you are on the brink of something special, it is easy to forget to live in the moment. The problem, however, is when everything is amazing and there is always something to look forward to. Throughout Europe, I often caught myself dreaming of Africa, drifting away to my next great challenge, and unfortunately quite often I really had to force myself to see the beauty of where I was.
However, as I sit here today in Morocco, I’m not thinking about anything else, I am not looking forward to anywhere else, I am back in the moment. I am having a hard time wiping the smile from my face as I occasionally burst into a short giggle in the realization that “I’m in Morocco”. But it’s more than just the location. There is something that I’ve been missing for a while: that foreign feeling. It’s the reason I left South America, and it’s the reason I chose Africa as the next leg of my adventure. I just wanted the world to feel strange to me again. I wanted to feel like a child discovering a new playground.
As my feet scamper through the blue lined alleyways of Chefchaouen I feel as if I am a guest in an alien world. On the streets, men walk silently in ewok garb, woman giggle at the strange sight of my western face, and children try to pet at my blond arm hair as they pass.
I work my way through a maze of blue-coloured streets, a colour-reminder of the Jewish heritage of this Moroccan mountain town.
“La, Shukran!” I say, politely yet forcefully declining the services of people offering hotels, tours and most of all hash.
I don’t mind the hassles, my life has almost been too easy over the past couple months. Rail journeys, boutique hostels and street side French cafes certainly have their place in the world but I had been craving a challenge. I had been craving this feeling. I had been craving stress, excitement, and new challenges.
It’s hard not to feel more alive than usual as the Moroccan street scenes attack your senses from all angles. The smell of spices tickle the hairs of my nose as a fresh dish is served in the square while the poetic call for prayer rings out through the medina.
I search for some tranquility for a moment, as I do each day in the early afternoon and hike to what looks like a viewpoint above the city. I walk past a soccer pitch, a couple minarets, and the usual guides and hash salesmen. Finally, I take a seat on a cement perch away from the crowds and sense only peace this time. I look down on the blue city of Chefchaouen in awe and think to myself that for the first time in a while, this is exactly where I’m meant to be.