Cinco Semanas

(English version here)

Cinco semanas han pasado aca in Chefchaouen.

Yo recuerdo cuando cinco semanas me parecian mucho tiempo.
Tu no creerias como rapido tiempo pasa en el camino.
Si tu eres un viajero, quizas entendieras.

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The Day We Climbed Long’s Peak

My good friend and climbing partner Meg was in a serious mountaineering accident last week. She was struck in the head by falling rock while attempting to climb Martha’s Couloir on Long’s Peak, a mixed ice and snow route. Her helmet saved her life, but by all accounts from those back home, she faces a long journey to recovery. Meg’s a strong person; the strongest I know, probably. But a traumatic brain injury is not a small thing.

When I saw the news on Facebook, I felt powerless. Here I was, halfway across the world in Morocco, while a good friend lay in the hospital on the verge of death. Had I been in Colorado, I might even have been on that mountain with her. I felt guilty.

My first instinct was to see how I could help.

I have a platform here, an audience that cares about what I have to say. I dashed off a post about the accident; imploring people to donate to the GoFundMe her family had started to pay for the sure-to-be-staggering medical bills. It felt good to be doing something. I was even going to send a message to my neglected e-mail list. I might lose some subscribers, but someone would probably donate. I wanted to help. I almost pulled the trigger.

But then I hesitated. Something didn’t feel right.

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Rif Mountains Chefchaouen

I went for a walk in the mountains. Here in Chefchaouen, mountains rise right outside of the town—their powerful presence is a big part of why I have lingered in this sleepy Moroccan pueblo for so long. Mountains have always been where I find my peace; where I find my best self. Meg, I know, is similar.

I walked out of town, accompanied by a new friend from the hostel, doing her best to distract me from my morbid state of mind. Admirable effort, but I still found myself thinking about the times Meg and I had shared together as climbing partners. I thought about the reasons we go into the mountains. I thought about why we do these things which we know could kill us. And I thought about what Meg would want.

Here it became clear to me, the story of a broken person in need of help wasn’t the story she would want told. That’s not Meg’s story. I wouldn’t dare to write it.

Instead, I want to tell the story of the day we climbed Long’s Peak.

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Women’s issues are inescapable in Morocco.

A moderate Islamic society, Morocco isn’t so severe as some places in the world; it is no Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Mauritania. But nonetheless, a Westerner cannot walk here without feeling it, without seeing it, without experiencing it every day.

And as a man, of course, I do not experience the worst of things. My sister, my traveling partner for this jaunt, wrote a good blog post about her thoughts on the gender gap, here.

Speaking on this subject as a man is a difficult needle to thread. So I won’t try. Not yet, anyways. But I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been in my thoughts, a lot.

Instead of writing on this subject, I’ve distracted myself by reading on this subject.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. Recently, The Handmaid’s Tale has reached a new audience, through the Emmy Award-winning Hulu series. I haven’t seen the series yet, but I knew the basic premise of the book. What better place to read about a dystopian patriarchy than in Morocco?

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The Melting Pot of Tangier

My sister and I have been planning a trip together for years.

It has always been a trip through Africa. She loves Africa — has lived there for three years, and studied there for half of one.

When I tell her that Africa is too large to call by one name, she reminds me that she knows more of the continent than I do. And, she adds — the immensity is reason enough to keep returning.

After four years of this back-and-forth, one or the other of us backing out, we are here. We landed on the Northern tip of the continent — Tangier, Morocco.

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