The Morocco Trip Part II

4/28/09

Well, I am back in Sefrou and decided to accept the job in Alaska. So I used what was left of my cash to book tickets (I’ll explain more about this in the future) and then I found out that actually, I hadn’ t been offered the job yet, just the chance to apply for it! So I’ve applied for it and have spent all my money to get there by June 1st. I have a ticket coming back on September 30th though…so that is a comfort at least.

These are the tickets and stubs from the first part of my journey…Europe to Morocco part 1…

Here is the crazy thing. To get from Morocco to North America…I didn’t find less than $1200 one way. The cheapest way to get to North America from Africa or Europe that I could find was the following:
Train from Fez to Casablanca. Easyjet to Madrid. (Madrid to Frankfurt not figured out yet) Frankfurt to Dublin ($20 with Ryanair), and Dublin to Quebec City, Canada with Continental with a return in September. All of that was just about $500 U.S.

These are a few of the maps from a few of the cities I’ve visited….

So with any luck, I will be couchsurfing along the way but in the meantime, I’m happy to be back in Sefrou with Hanane and her family and all our friends here. I leave on May 12 for Casa and then onto the rest of the journey. Have applied for the job in Alaska and will hopefully get it, but if not, as the saying goes, the only thing harder than making a fortune in Alaska is keeping one…so something will work out.

As I say, I submit myself to the will of God in these matters.

Recently I was couchsurfing with my new friend Rafael in Brussels and we had a great conversation about Tarot cards. One of the reasons we hit it off, I think, is because of a mutual appreciation for the zero card in the deck. In France it is called Le Mat, in some decks it is called The Vagabond, but in most decks I’ve used it’s been called The Fool.

I’m glad that we were able to have the conversation as it makes life much easier for me to comprehend right at this moment. I’ll explain why in a second, but first I have to tell you why this card has always resonated with me.

The tarot deck, to me, is the story of a journey and that journey is life. All of the cards represent different situations, feelings, or people we encounter along that journey and when they are presented in a certain way, they can bring great insight into what it is that our lives need or don’t need at any given time.

The Fool is the person setting out on the journey. It represents taking a step into the unknown. The first deck I ever used showed a young guy taking a walk and lifting his foot for the next step while he gazed up at the clouds above. Because he is so intent on the beauty above, he doesn’t notice that his next step will take him off a cliff. Slightly below the cliff is a cloud that obscures what will happen when he takes the fateful step.

 

I’ve always seen this as being multiple possibilities. Maybe he steps off the cliff and dies, maybe the cloud actually supports his weight and he goes on a journey to the sky he is looking at, maybe the cliff is only a small fall, maybe there is water underneath that takes him to another land…the possibilities are endless.

The point of all of this is that if you don’t take a childlike view of the world, ignore the dangers, and take that first fateful step, you will never know. And sometimes, like the beauty of the sky above, we have to be tricked into taking that fateful step and we have to go for it.

Why am I glad to have this inspiration right now? Easy. I’m a fool.

A friend told me about a job that sounded dreamlike. It was urgent that I act quickly. I took the step. I spent my tiny reserves of cash to bring myself to the job. Or as close to the job as my cash would get me.

And today I found out that there is no job and hasn’t been for several weeks.

Lofl.

So what do I do now? Do I cry and moan and bitch and blame my friend? Do I simply ignore the tickets, write off the money, and try to find something here in Morocco?

I take the step that’s what. I’m a fool and I have no idea what lies ahead of me on this journey, but I’ve already lifted my proverbial foot and even though I see the cliff, I’m definitely going to step off of it.

So…things are only starting to get interesting.

(Originally Posted 28 April 2009)

5/1/09

Today was absolutely spectacular. Not tourism, just really good living.

Hanane and I woke up early and met up with our friend Yassine. Then we hiked up into the Atlas from Sefrou.

We passed by a lot of Berber tribes people doing laundry, taking donkeys to town to get supplies, herding sheep and cattle, and just hanging out around their homes.

We reached a small Berber settlement which was the end point of our hike and there were a bunch of young boys herding a big flock of sheep. We were taking their pictures so it was only fair to share the cookies and candy we had brought with us, with them.

A guy slowly walked out to join us and I thought he might scold me for handing out cookies, but no, he wanted to invite us to tea.

We said yes and sat under a fig tree drinking tea, eating delicious homemade cheese, olive oil, and bread. Eating hard boiled turkey eggs, and getting to know our new friends.

Lhassin and Kawtar showed us where they bake bread in a stone oven, where Lahassin’s mother makes beautiful Berber rugs (yes, real Berber), and gave me a gift of a pillow. There was no request for money and if we would have offered, it would certainly of been refused.

After tea the five of us hiked through the beautiful canyons and valleys of the Atlas. We explored water sources and crossed into the territory of the other major Berber tribe in the area, the Ait Hassin. Lhassin, Kawtar and all their neighbors and families are members of the Ihi Najen tribe.

Here is an interesting note, there are lots of people who think the Berbers are the descendants of those who lived on the lost continent of Atlantis and that the Atlas Mountains are actually the Atlantis Mountains. I can believe it.

After a very nice hike, we returned and ate Friday couscous with the Ihi Najen and finally, had to leave to make the hike back to Sefrou. It was difficult to leave, literally, since they wanted us to stay for coffee, and had started baking treats just for us, and offered to let us stay the night, and would have been very happy to have us stay forever. Really, this is what they said.

But we had to get back. We had forgotten to tell Hanane’s family where we were going or that we would be gone all day.

This was a spectacular day and experience. One of the best of my travels.

5/4/09

Another great day in Sefrou.

Yassine had heard rumours of Roman ruins on top of a distant mountain (okay, not that distant, about 15 kilometers) so we decided to make a day of it and hike out there and see if we could find them.

We started out early in the morning. Hanane, me, Yassine, and our friend Adil.

First we had to climb Sefrou’s version of Diamond Head. No steps up this one and we were able to put our rock climbing/bouldering skills to work.

We passed a big whitewashed cave that is suppossed to be the last resting place of the prophet Daniel according to Jewish legend. Sefrou had a population made up of 1/3 Jewish until the French left in the 1950’s, at this point the Jews all decided to go to Israel.

Anyway, the cave was stupendously big. And spooky. I snapped a couple of pictures with the flash and this is what one of them revealed. I swear the face was not there when I took the photo.

After this, we did the afroementioned bouldering and I noticed we were being followed by a couple of young guys that seemed to want to come along.

I called them over and we met our new young friends, Mohammad and Samir.

Lots of road hiking and going through random fields of soybeans and other crops and then we reached the next mountain we needed to climb.

Hanane found a big coral snake and almost got bit by it and we were almost out of water, but we persevered after a short orange break under a big fig tree.

The boys said they had been here before but it was impossible to get to the top. We went for it anyway.

After more bouldering and a few false starts, we made it to the top and found the ruins. The top was covered with ancient pot shards. I took a few from the surface, even though it ruined the provenience of the site.

We shared our lunch, snapped lots of picutres of Fes way down below us and then we took the long hike back. We stopped and had water from a Berber well and also from a natural spring flowing from the rocks.

In addition to the pot sherds, we also found numerous minerals of different colors and types. Lots of crystals.

I had wanted to dig around and treasure hunt, but I really didn’t want to mess this site up.

On the top we found a vertical wind that would take flowers we threw into it and transport them up into the air and then out to who knows where.


On the road on the way back we found two beatles rolling a ball of dung.

And all along the way, we found more ruins, more caves, and more fruit and flowers.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3329/3500062701_6ea244d402.jpg?v=0
And then we made it back…very very tired. Wow.

No one is doing any archeology here. It’s a shame I’m not more qualified.

For those of you following, I am now embarked upon the fools journey. I’ve no set destination in mind. A job was offered and in my excitement to accept it, I spent nearly all my money on a couple of tickets to get me closer to it. The job is in Alaska and I am in Morocco.

My money managed to get me from Casablanca to Madrid. From there, I have to figure out how to get to Frankfurt in Germany so I can take my next flight to Dublin and then I will fly from Dublin to Quebec in Canada. Once in Canada, I need to find a way to get to the job – or needed to.

Since the job was supposed to finish at the end of September I booked my flight back to Dublin on September 30th. Since I am a fool, there isn’t any job. The universe took it from me – but not before I spent all my money on those flights.

I have about $50 on my debit card, paypal has suspended my account indefinitely because I used it in Morocco without telling them and now they want documentation I can’t provide from here.

I left Sefrou, Morocco this morning with about 300 Moroccan Dirham (about $30) and an overdrawn bank account that I used to buy the flight to Quebec.

As you may know, I am a fan of the Tarot cards and since the tarot is the story of the fool and this story has started, I should tell you about the journey. Once he begins the fools quest, the first person the fool encounters is the Magician. The magician not only shows him tricks but also explains the nature of the universe and thus the fool learns the power of manifestation.

Strange as it may seem, I did encounter a magician shortly after all of this began. A few days ago while hanging out with Moroccan friends and some American visitors, I was happy to run into Medhi, a young Moroccan magician who wowed us all with his slight of hand. (Or was it really magic?)

In addition, I have been forced to do some deep thinking of late about how to create the elusive win-win situation and also how to utilize the psychology of everyone involved to create positive social environments. On top of that, this fool has to figure out how to find accomodation and food for this entire trip, not to mention a way from Madrid to Germany with just $50.

Today was hard in some ways and easy in others. Hard was saying goodbye to Hanane and her family for the next four months. Easy was the full day journey from Sefrou to Casablanca. A petit taxi to the grand taxi station for 6 MAD, 10 MAD to get to Fes (btw 8 MAD = $1 U.S.) then 103 MAD for a second class seat on the train to Casablanca, Voyageurs Train Station. 8.5 MAD for another petit taxi to the Casa Port Train Station, and a walk to the youth hostel where a bed is 60MAD per night and included breakfast. 10 MAD for a sandwich and a couple of cigarettes and 10 MAD for internet and that leaves me about 90 MAD to get to the airport tomorrow. I have a couch lined up in Madrid through SOS Couch in Madrid and I still have a 20 Euro note to use for metro fare and food.

So, the first thing I need to learn from the Magician is that manifestation is possible.

Here is more on the fool’s journey from http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/basics/magician.shtml

Basic Tarot Story

Traveling on his way, the Fool first encounters a Magician. Skillful, self-confident, a powerful magus with the infinite as a halo floating above his head, the Magician mesmerizes the Fool.

When asked, the Fool gives over his bundled pack and stick to the Magician. Raising his wand to heaven, pointing his finger to Earth, the Magician calls on all powers; magically, the cloth of the pack unfolds upon the table, revealing its contents.

And to the Fool’s eyes it is as if the Magician has created the future with a word. All the possibilities are laid out, all the directions he can take. The cool, airy Sword of intellect and communication, the fiery Wand of spirituality and ambition, the overflowing Chalice of Love and emotions, the solid Pentacle of work, possessions and body. With these tools, the Fool can create anything, make anything of his life.

But here’s the question, did the Magician create the tools, or were they already in the pack? Only the Magician knows – and on this mystery, our eloquent mage refuses to say a word.

Basic Tarot Meaning

At #1, the Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things just-so by speaking them aloud (“And God said ‘Let there be Light!’ and there was Light”). Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand (Mercury *was* the god of thieves!) and a medicine man – either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil. The 4 suits laid out before him remind us of the 4 aces, which in the Tarot symbolize the raw, undeveloped, undirected power of each suit. When the Magician appears, he reveals these to you. The reader might well interpret this card as telling the querent that they will be given a vision, an idea, a magical, mental image of whatever it is they most want: the solution to a problem, an ambitious career, a love life, a job.

 

(Originally posted 12 May 2009)