June 24, 2019
We have wrapped up our adventures with some amazing last moments together in Marrakech and Madrid. We were rewarded for our efforts on Toubkal with the oasis of Riad Bledna just outside Marrakech. We showered, ate well and celebrated with a dance party to let loose after many days of hiking. Mae, Evelyn and Megan boogied their hearts out and inspired us all to do the same.
Our next morning was filled with meandering through the encapsulating markets of Marrakech. Our guide Mohamed led us through the brick-lined tunnels that characterize the ‘Red City’, past beautiful ancient mosques and handmade Moroccan crafts. After an introduction to the Argan Cooperatives that create cosmetics and tea from local plants, we got to shop and bargain for all the trinkets our hearts desired. By the end, Mae, Megan and Emily had mastered the art of bargaining, being compared to the locals in their tenacity for a good deal. Shopkeepers said that they bargained like Berbers. We soaked in the local flavor and walked away with tangible objects by which to remember our time here.
When we returned to the Riad, we played in the grass and jumped in the pool in the beautiful Moroccan sun. Justin, Charlie, Jack, Lilly, Remy and Emily dominated in ultimate frisbee in the green grass of the vast backyard of Mohamed’s home. With encouragement from everyone, Miller and Ward practiced their swimming skills during a heated game of categories and the girls soaked up some rays in a much needed moment of relaxation. Chris showed us all up by swimming two full lengths underwater like the fish he is!
Later in the afternoon we headed to see and ride camels! We were amazed by the exotic animals that reminded us of something from Star Wars in a prehistoric age. Remy led the way as she climbed aboard first and showed us how to hold on while her camel clambered up to its feet. We rode around among the palm trees and enjoyed the company of a new baby camel that trailed alongside us.
That evening we dined on our last Moroccan dinner of spiced chicken and veggies followed by fresh watermelon. After dinner and packing we all put on an Argan Face mask to fully appreciate the hard work that we witnessed earlier in the day.
With glowing faces, we headed to Madrid to start our journey home. After a morning of travel we walked around Madrid to the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, and its gardens. We also witnessed part of the classic Spanish celebration of Corpus Cristi. To end our time together we ate boutique burgers followed by traditional Spanish churros and chocolate. Our last Moonup was special as we reminisced on all that we experienced together in two short weeks and offered encouragement to each other. We had a tearful goodbye this morning, but we know that the memories we share and the bonds we formed will forever be in our hearts.
Thanks for such a wonderful experience moms and dads. We owe this all to you!
June 21, 2019
We have been gallivanting around Morocco for the last 3 days and it has been such an incredible adventure! After a quick flight to Marrakech and a bus ride to Imlil, we were welcomed by our outfitter Ahmed to our beautiful hostel, which was draped in colorful curtains and sprinkled with patterned rugs. We took a stroll around town where Mustafa treated us to mint tea as we sat upon handmade Moroccan rugs and learned about our new surroundings and Moroccan culture. Emily and Mae made off like bandits with new rugs and trinkets in tow. Miller and Jack both bought traditional garb that they haven’t taken off since!
The next morning, after a huge breakfast of eggs, pancakes, yogurt, and cereal on the beautiful rooftop veranda, we started our hike to Mount Toubkal Refuge. The hike started though the winding paths of Imlil, lined with apple trees and a nice stream. We then climbed into the stark red cliffs that characterize Moroccan landscape. Ward and Charlie bobbed from spot to spot in line, making sure to speak with and bond with each member of our group. We took a long lunch to rest up before finishing, but it was completely worth it to have full stomachs as we took in the starkly new environment we had climbed to. It was a long hike up, but we made it with spirits high for the hike to the top the next day. We relaxed for the afternoon at the refuge, with Lilly, Remy and Evelyn singing by the river while the rest of us milled around the rocks.
Thursday morning we woke up early to start our final climb to the top of Toubkal! We took it slow as we hiked up the striking uphill next to ice pack and fierce cacti. Megan and Chris showed incredible strength as they powered through one step at a time even though the altitude gave them a hard time. Chris even touched snow for the first time in six years, and Miller was able to throw a summer snowball.
After a long decline down, we had a wonderful sunny afternoon at the refuge filled with drinking mint tea, playing ninja and meeting new Scottish friends. Today we hiked the rest of the way down, back to Imlil and caught a ride to Marrakech where we are staying in our own little oasis. We can’t wait to practice our bargaining skills in the Marrakech market tomorrow, and ride camels!
Love and miss you all,
June 17, 2019
Las Bombillas are on the move!
We have spent the last two days in Llanes where we came full circle by kayaking down the Cares River, the very same river that we trekked next to on our first day! The water was crystal clear and beautiful. Our teamwork flourished as we paired up and learned how to work together to navigate the emerald waters. Evelyn and Remy were our first to flip but showed us their tenacity by hopping right back in their kayaks and thriving until the end! Megan and Miller snuck up on us with their kayaking captain skills as they whipped their boats to and fro without any trouble. Lilly, in Megan’s kayak, was able to serenade us all as we floated down together.
After kayaking and a picnic in the park we had a special treat of chocolate and corbatas, a traditional pastry in Asturias, before returning to the apartments for some hang time. During our down time, Chris, Lilly, Jack and Ward took turns in the spotlight belting Neil Diamond, Taylor Swift, Queen and Tom Petty respectively. After many giggles and a few tears of laughter, we made our way to the coast to learn to surf!
Evelyn and Chris quickly showed their prowess as they popped up and bobbed as they rode the waves. With their help and encouragement, the others made progress as well. Emily, Mae, and Ward, less experienced surfers, quickly got the hang of it and were riding waves flawlessly by the end! Jack and Charlie impressed us all by their gridiron determination. Even after a few gnarly wipeouts, both are now able to say they’ve successfully surfed!
For our long day in the water, Emily and Chris took their LOD responsibilities to a new level as they led the group in prepping and making all three meals. We concluded the day with a cookout of hamburgers and chorizo paired with charcuterie and what quickly became everyone’s favorite new condiment: hamburger sauce. Now we are on our way to Madrid after another successful morning of surfing in Llanes, with waist high, glassy surf and beautiful views. Tomorrow we head to the beautiful land of Morocco for yet another series of adventures! Stay tuned.
Love to all back home,
June 15, 2019
¡Hello from Llanes!
We have had an eventful but amazing last couple of days trekking through the stunning Picos de Europa National Park. After a long day of traveling from Atlanta to Madrid, and finally to Caín, we took an afternoon stroll up the nearest towering peaks to stretch our legs. Miller led the group as he sped up to the biggest, tallest rock face he could find. Our evening breath of fresh air was followed by a delicious meal of pasta and chicken fingers with ice cream and cheesecake to finish.
After our first night’s rest in over 24 hours, we rose to start the amazing journey through the Cares Gorge to Poncebos. As Leaders of the Day (LODs), Charlie and Remy set us on the right path, with Charlie practicing his Spanish by translating important historical information for our outfitter Carlos. Although our hike began crossing the Cares River from only a few feet above, by the end we were over a thousand feet above the flowing river below. The Cares Gorge trail brought us incredible views from the cliffs along, with walks through dozens of man-made tunnels. We reached our hostel, rested for a few moments and went to a dinner of tapas after which we had the opportunity to visit a local hidden gem: a Cabrelas cheese cave! Here in Asturias, the land of cheeses, they are known for the blue cheese they allow to age in the ancient caves of the Picos de Europa Mountains.
Our third morning brought cold temperatures and clear skies in Sotres, the tallest village in Picos de Europa. We scarfed down the typical Spanish breakfast of muffins and toast and took in a view of the surrounding mountains from above Sotres. Lilly, one of the LOD’s for the day, led the group through a tough uphill section and through midday fog. Our other LOD, Miller, led us through a thrilling game of ‘Pterodactyl’ after lunch that had everyone in tears laughing, with Ward coming out on top in the end!! Afterward we had a particularly long hike down, but we never lost hope thanks to Mae, Emily and Megan’s singing and dancing. Lilly and Evelyn were our saving graces, offering help to all to make sure they made it through the mud safely. When we made it to the hidden town of Bulnes, the Swole Patrol was sure to get down and do 20 pushups, as they did during every rest break during the day’s hike – nugs to Charlie, Jack, Chris, Justin, and Margaret! We descended the rest of the way, slurped up some ice cream and climbed into our vans to our refugio next to Lake Enol.
Today we woke up next to the lake, did a nice loop to stretch our legs around Enol and the neighboring lake, Lake Ercina, before starting our ascent into the Picos once again. Remy and Chris both showing their Spanish skills by walking with and talking to Carlos for hours. Our day included an uphill climb surrounded by beautiful cows, grass, streams and cliffs. Right as we started to descend, we were engulfed in clouds. We then emerged to a field of sheep where we talked and skipped our way to our bus. Now we’ve made it to Llanes, and after a hefty cachopo meal and ice cream, we are prepped and ready to go for our day of kayaking and surfing tomorrow!
Love to all at home!
-Justin and Margaret
Evelyn: hey everyone i’m having a great time. shoutout to my dad for father’s day, hope you have a good one!! peace out
Lilly: hey guys hope y’all are having fun in Italy hope Roberta and Andy and baby Micheal are doing great and happy almost Father’s Day dad I’m good¡
Remy: Hi, I’m having a great time on this trip. I hope you are too. Happy Father’s Day dad. Chao
Megan: Hi, I’m having so much fun. I hope things are good in Dallas. Happy Father’s Day Dad. Can’t wait to celebrate with you soon
Miller: Hi family how are you doing I’m having a great time in Spain today you’ll never believe what we saw today was a little cloudy, it was El Capitan or better knows it as El cap. Dad I hope you have a great Father’s Day you better name the dog cookie nothing else just cookie maybe cupcake.
Mae: hi family what’s up.hahah I’m having SO MUCH FUN!! Today I saw like 500 cows and 20 sheep it was great. Also I haven’t been able to use the card yet so I don’t know if it works. Happy Father’s Day dad !! Ha ha sorry I’m not there 🙁 anyways i’m having SO THE TIME OF MY LIFE!! Peace, luv, happiness – Mae ️
Charlie- Happy Father’s Day dad. I would have never thought anywhere could look so pretty. We stayed in the highest altitude village in northern Spain and I have a postcard picture of it, but I figured I wouldn’t send it since we sent a postcard that was given to us anyways. I can’t wait to tell you all my stories and everyone here in my group and everyone around us are all so nice. My last thing I would like to say is the cheese cave smelled awful, will tell story later. -Charlie
Jack: dear parents- Have a good time In Nashville. Moondance has been pretty great so far. We are going surfing tomorrow and I think it will be the best part of the trip. So far we have hiked on top of mountains and been inside of clouds. It’s kinda dopage. I hope chief gives u a great Father’s Day dad. Love Jack
Ward- Dear mom and dad,
I am having an awesome time right now in Spain. It is so much fun and I have had an awesome so far. Tomorrow we start surfing for the first time and I am super excited. I miss you guys so much and I can’t wait to see you guys again. Love you both.
Emily- What’s good fam?¿I am having the time of my life! I love hiking, even though it is very challenging. I love everyone in my group because they are all soooo funny!! I miss ali hahahha I’m kidding!!!! I love y’all so much thank you for sending me on Moondance! I’ve really been able to be myself here and the girls are just like me. Happy Father’s Day father! Clifton I hope you are having fun and going to parties! Tell lili and poppie I love Spain! LOVE YALL BYEEEEE
Chris- Hope you guys are having so much fun in Italy!! I cannot describe how much fun I am having. Everyone on my trip is awesome including our leaders. At the time of me writing this, it is the day before we surf! Charlie and I have been having so much fun and him and I are the only ones that speak Spanish along with our other leader, Margaret. We are the translators and you would be so proud of how well I am speaking. I have started to talk in a British accent and it is infectious! Margaret can’t stop! We are definitely coming back! Love you infinity!!!️
June 12, 2019
Hola Spain + Morocco Families!
We heard from our Leaders late last night, and the group has arrived safely in Spain. They have headed to their hostel for the night, and the trip is off to a great start. Stay tuned for more stories from their adventures!