July 27, 2016
And so the Moroccan part of our adventure begins!
We touched down in Marrakech and hit the ground running. Traveling outside the city to Imi Oughlad, we reached where we would begin our hike. At lunch, Sean took the responsibility of being the group tea pourer, a much trickier art than you would think. After fueling up we started hiking to where we would camp that night. As per usual, Abigail, Peter, and Brittany were some of those leading the group, powering up the hills. We stopped halfway at the top of a beautiful mountain where we could see some great views. Emily took lots of great photos! We continued hiking to our campsite, which we were pleased to find situated next to a river. Joey and Sean took some time to journal by the river, and Abigail and Brittany read. That night we had a wonderful dinner and we were all eager to help our cooks out by doing the dishes. Ella, Catherine, Abigail, Betsy, and Lizzie were all rock stars and helped out so much! The next morning we awoke ready to tackle our final day of hiking for this trip. That morning we began hiking through a river valley, which kept us in the shade most of the way. Soon, the climb up the pass began. Catherine, Ella, and Betsy held up the rear of the group and passed the time laughing and telling funny stories. Once we reached the top it wasn’t much further to the hotel where we would spend the night. There we hung out on the terrace with a beautiful view of the valley. As per usual, our group busted out Bananagrams to pass the time. Lizzie beat everyone in her first game ever. George and Jack also had a few disagreements about what were actually words and which were not. Over the next two days we drove out to the Sahara where we would ride camels, what we had all been waiting for! Jack, George, Peter, Joey, Sean, and Greg (yup, all of the boys) purchased turbans to wear while riding them, very fashionable and very functional. We met the camels in a town called Merzouga and rode them out into the desert. It was a little bit of a bumpy ride, but well worth it! Brittany clicked with her camel especially, even giving it a name (Garbanzo, if you were wondering). We arrived at camp and were treated to some of the most beautiful stars you have ever seen. Emily, Jack, George, and Peter even climbed to the top of the sand dune to catch a better view of the moon. Abigail, Brittany, Lizzie, and Greg stuck around to watch all of the stars. This night was by far one of the favorites of the trip.
Everyone enjoyed spending one of the last nights in Morocco in such a wild and cool place. Our last day in Africa we got to explore the markets of Marrakech! It was definitely a favorite of the trip for everyone. Catherine and Lizzie were enchanted by all the cool rugs and tapestries. Sean and Peter loved all the different spices for sale. Betsy and Ella got some cool baskets. Everyone walked away happy with all their purchases, lots of souvenirs for family and friends! From there we hopped on a plane back to Spain, where we first began this trip together. We spent the final Moon Up in the most beautiful park Madrid has to offer, El Retiro. Our LODs, Abigail and George, asked us to share our favorite memories favorite memories from the trip. It was the perfect way to end our time in Spain and Morocco. We’re all sad to say goodbye, but so thankful for the memories and friendships made.
July 20, 2016
The group was filled with a new excitement as we made our way to the beach for our first day of surfing. Emily, Lizzie, and Sean had all done it before and were excited to get back on the waves. We started by learning the basics before we got out on the ocean. It’s amazing what an hour can produce! Pretty soon we all felt like pros on the board. Joey was able to bust a move on the board while riding a wave. Abigail received compliments from all the instructors on how quickly she was picking it up. Brittany shouted “Guacamole,” our catchphrase for this trip, as she rode a wave into shore like a master. Everyone impressed us this first lesson and we were all able to stand up on the board by the end of the lesson! Woooo!
Afterwards we decided to stay on the beach for an afternoon of sun… and lots of sand. Catherine, Betsy, Ella, and Abigail all headed to the water to cool off. After some fun with the big waves though they decided to come back in. Greg, Peter, George, and Jack all gave body surfing a try as well. And of course, everyone wanted to work on their tans a little too. That night we decided to explore the old city to find a place for dinner. Did you know San Sebastián is one of the world’s most famous tapas locations? Brittany was able to navigate us all around without getting lost once! That night Peter and Brittany led us in an awesome Mooup. Catherine commented how fast this trip was flying by and she was going to be so sad to say goodbye to everyone. Don’t worry though we still have plenty of more fun headed our way. Day two it was time for our final day of surfing. Ella and Besty used a little too much of our instructor’s green face zinc for sun protection and wound up looking a little like Shrek. We all got a good laugh out of that one. The instructors let us have a little more freedom this time around, being that we are such seasoned surfers at this point. Sean tried to do a little yoga on top of his board. Lizzie got lots of praise on her balance too. Finally it was time to say goodbye, to our instructors and San Sebastián. We all had so much fun in this city but can’t wait for the surprises that Morocco will bring!
July 18, 2016
After jetting across the pond our group arrived met up in Madrid, Spain. From there we headed north to our a small village called Caín, where we would begin our hiking the next day. The views from our bus were absolutely amazing – like the backdrop of Lord of the Rings. After winding through mountains, rivers, and even a lake we reached our destination. After settling in, we decided to explore a little. Emily began taking pictures of everyone and the beautiful scenery. Sean wowed us with stories of his recent adventures in Japan. George made us laugh, and a little confused with his favorite “anti-jokes”. In the morning, we began our hike along the gorge of the Cares River. It was a winding, narrow trail carved out of the rock face. The trail took us through some small tunnels too, where some of the taller people in our group, like Brittany and Joey, had to duck their heads to get through. We stopped for a snack break beside the trail and were greeted by some very friendly goats! Greg, Catherine, and Abigail all got some selfies with them. Our guides, Darío and Ruth showed us an amazing view of the whole gorge. Betsy and Ella were excited to practice Spanish on the trail by saying “hola, como estás?” to everyone we passed on the trail. When we arrived in our next town, Sotres, we had a little relaxation time. Peter and Jack passed the time with a little Bananagrams. Emily led some of us in yoga too. After that we headed to dinner. When we were served fish we were a little surprised to get the whole thing, fins, scales and all. Catherine, Abigail, and Sean all ate a fish eye too! That night we were treated to a visit to a cave where they make Cabrales cheese, a variety that is unique to this region. The next morning we were ready to tackle the upward hike to Pico Urriellu. Joey and Abigail led the way and navigated for us. Brittany, Peter and Jack weren’t far behind leading the pack. Lizzie kept us motivated with her positive attitude. It was a long day of hiking but the views were well worth it! We had Moonup, lead by LODs George and Abigail, surrounded by the beautiful sky and mountain peaks. Definitely one to remember. Our third day of hiking in the Picos was back down the trail we took yesterday. Once we finished we said goodbye to our hiking guides Darío and Ruth and headed out towards the next stop on our adventure, San Sebastián!