Our brother/sister trip around Africa ground to a halt at its second stop, in Chefchaouen, Morocco.
Chefchaouen is a sleepy little pueblo in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco. The entire medina is painted different shades of blue, creating a surreal effect when wandering the streets. Tourism has exploded here in recent years; “even five years ago, Chefchaouen was nothing,” my local friends said.
Chefchaouen is famous for three things, they’d continue:
- The water, which comes straight down from the nearby mountains, and is some of the purest drinking water in all of Morocco;
- The hashish, which is grown in the nearby mountains and offered to you everywhere;
- And ‘the relax.’
Sounds pretty good, right?
Yeah, sounded pretty good to me, too.
“I have to come here at least once a year,” said Waheeb, a Moroccan climber I meet in Chaouen. Waheeb’s a character: he claims to have crossed Africa on foot, from Somalia to Senegal. And I have no reason to doubt his claim.
“Even if I am somewhere else in the world, I will return to Morocco — just to visit Chaouen. My soul just doesn’t feel right if I don’t visit this place enough,” he told me one night, sitting out in the crisp mountain air, staring at the stars.
I could see where he was coming from.
Chefchaouen felt like a bath for my weary soul.
I sat in the stairwell of the hostel, listening to my sister cry on the other end of the telephone.
“Why don’t you want to be with me?” she asked. “Do you know how shitty that feels?”
It was December 2017. I was in Chefchaouen, Morocco, nestled in the Rif mountains. The bite of winter was encroaching. I was cold, and filled with self-loathing.
“There is some part of me that feels like it really needs to go see about this woman,” I said. “I can’t stop thinking about her.”
Five years of planning, interminable delays, and the trip my sister and I had planned to take together around Africa would never occur.
I had fallen in love.
The phone call ended without resolution.
She needed to do something, or I did. I sat on the stairs and felt a blackness in my heart. I was blazing a selfish path of destruction, I knew. I had burnt a hole in the middle of my oldest, strongest relationship — to go see about a person I’d known for only three days. Que romantico. ¿No?
I shot a message to a friend back home: I contribute nothing, M. My lifestyle is so selfish. I only hurt people. What’s wrong with me?
I felt lower than I had in a very long time, But I couldn’t stop. One has to follow one’s heart. No matter the risk, no matter the damage — love is the only force of meaning in this world.
Or so I thought.
This is youth, after all.
It’s been a while since there’s been serious, creative content on this is youth.
To put it simply, I find it difficult to write when I’m happy.
The last nine months of my life have been a happy story.
Unfortunately, I’m now in a position to tell it.
So where were we last? That’s right: Budapest, Hungary. 4 a.m., a foggy New Year’s Day, on the banks of the Danube….
With so much to be ashamed of in the news lately, I think it’s important to remember: we have lots of be proud of here, too.
The USA’s nature is second to none; it is well-taken care of, respected, preserved, and enjoyed.
It’s important to recognize the pitfalls of history, and accept that this land doesn’t belong to us. (Especially important with the recent happenings on our southern border). Nonetheless, I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have communed with this land, learned from it, and grown up in it.
An old man contemplates progress (right) while a young man in a suit hurries back to work (left). With Credit Suisse and BArclays offices stacked on top of luxury malls and shiny storefronts, Canary Wharf is a place for movers and shakers. Everyone wears a suit, and everyone is in a hurry.
This is the apex of capitalism.
I wonder what the old man is thinking.
And if the kid on the left could ever understand.