Another year, another few stories to tell.
One of my favorite posts I wrote last year was 2016 in Places, a meditation on a year of movement.
I started that post with this sentence:
“As I go into 2017, I’m faced with a big choice: do I choose to keep chasing places, for another little while, or is it time to settle down and devote myself to enhancing my relationships with people?”
As you’ll see, I ended up choosing places. Places gave me a lot this year. I leave 2017 with a greater breadth of stories and experiences. But my feeling is 2018 will be defined by people. We will see.
For now, here’s what happened to me in 2017.
‘Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises: “Beware too much ecstasy,” whereas love says, “Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!” Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.’
-“Shams of Tabriz’s 40 Rules of Love”
The first time I fell in love while traveling was in Nepal.
I went to Nepal alone, on a stroke of fate. There, I simultaneously fell in love and out-of-love. The experience was so powerful, I wrote a book about it. But what I found in Nepal wasn’t a romantic sort of love. It was an open-hearted love of the Nepali people, a love of the attitude which allowed them to enjoy the present, despite massive hurdles in their communal past and future.
I left Nepal a changed person.
I left my intellect in the high Himalaya. It’s come back, from time to regrettable time. But mostly, since leaving that special place, I’ve tried to live with my heart.
Which brings me to Chefchaouen, Morocco.
(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.
One month has passed here in Chefchaouen.
I remember when a month felt like a long time.
You would not believe how quickly time elapses on the road.
If you are a traveler, perhaps you know.
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.