June 24, 2019
Today we said goodbye to our family. The end of our trip was filled with tender moments as we reminisced about our time together. We spent our last few days at a beautiful Riad hotel in Imlil. This gave us plenty of time to relax and clean up after spending three days trekking in the Atlas Mountains. We spent the afternoon playing games, snacking, and talking about our strengths on the trail. Sam and Wallace showcased their artistic abilities by drawing the group a few pictures. Wallace led the charge in a game of presidents and finally won the game! That evening we were led in a game of (you guessed it) MAFIA. Harrison took charge as the narrator and entertained us with some hilarious stories.
Moonup that night was led by Aiden and Georgia. They begged the question of what was the happiest phase of your life? We received a wide range of answers and are so proud of our students abilities to open up during these moments. We have only been together for two weeks but we’ve grown incredibly close to one another.
Our final day together was spent saying goodbye to Morocco and traveling back to Spain. After a quick flight across continents we safely landed in Madrid, where we would spend the afternoon exploring the city. We walked around the nearby plazas in awe of the city lights. John made an interesting parallel between the bustling city and mountain lifestyle that we were accustomed to. He helped remind us of our time spent away from the conveniences of normal life.
We attended a local Spanish burger joint as our final meal together. George and Claire joined the CLEAN PLATE CLUB, showing off their appetite after a few challenging days of hiking. After shopping around town and getting ice cream we made our way back to our hostel for our final Moonup. We began our nightly Moonup with a song by Lexi! A real talent, she showcased her vocals with her own version of Valerie. Our lady LODs Vivian and Alexa led us in a very powerful, final Moonup. We laughed, cried, and yelled our favorite and most memorable moments from the trip. We talked about what we can take away from this experience and how we can apply it in real life.
As always we are so thankful for this opportunity and have learned so much from these kids. We have watched them grow and blossom as young adults and we cannot express how proud we are of them.
Until next time!
Gabe and Brit
June 23, 2019
“I seem always to enjoy things more intensely because of the certainty that they will not last” -Everett Ruess
Greetings families and friends from Morocco!!
We are sad to write the ending of our last stretch of the Spain and Morocco 1B trip, but feel extremely grateful to have had these last two weeks with some of the greatest kids out there. We flew into Marrakech with open hearts and minds, ready to experience yet another culture we had not known before. We started our time in Morocco staying at a riad, which is a traditional Morocco style house with an open court yard in the middle with plenty of plants and beautiful flowers all around. Thankful to be able to stay in this home was an understatement. The L.O.D.’s of this travel day and our first day in Morocco, John and Vivian (twin power team), were beyond helpful in the airport. They made sure everyone stayed organized and facilitated a prompt and efficient arrival to our gate in time for take off.Our next two days consisted of many beautiful and traditional Moroccan meals on the back porch which overlooked the pool. We were more than stoked to play in the sun and water; Alexa, Claire and Lexi were fishes the whole time in the pool always leading us in fun games like Star and Categories. On the second day, we had the amazing opportunity to explore the Market of Marrakech. The amazing and vibrant colors of the various shops throughout the market really stood out to the kids; they loved being able to buy new cultural gifts and trinkets for themselves and their friends. Harrison and Aiden displayed hidden bargaining skills and were able to buy basketball jerseys at an awesome price! Our LODS for the day, Wally and Sam led us in an emotional and moving Moonup that night, asking the group who is the person they thought they were before the trip and who they would strive to be once they traveled home. We were so proud of their open and vulnerable answers that they shared with our family.The next day, the Atlas Mountains we’re calling our names and we had to go. It was time to climb Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in Northern African at 13,761 feet. Our first morning we pushed through 5,000 feet in elevation to base camp, a huge accomplishment. Although this hike was long and challenging, Georgia absolutely killed it and led the pack by being in front and keeping moral high the entire way. Once we arrived to our base camp everyone was feeling accomplished and tired, but we were able to play a round of our favorite game, Mafia, where Aiden was requested to be narrator, as always, because of his hilarious stories and availing to keep the group laughing and in good spirits.We woke up before the sun early on summit day feeling well rested and excited to see what the rest of the mountain had to offer us. We started our hike with an absolutely beautiful view of the sunrise and the feeling of gratitude we had to be able to be on the mountain was overflowing. When anyone in the group began to feel tired or down, George was there for them in a heartbeat. The way in which he acted so selflessly in order for our group members to feel more comfortable was unbelievable to witness as a leader.We head to the Moroccan airport to transfer to our last night in Madrid with heavy, yet full hearts towards our kids and the way in which the trip played out. We can barely even put into words how proud we are of each and every student for all of the work they put into trekking, climbing, and as family members to one another. Over the past two weeks not only have they grown as individuals, but have also transformed into a strong, close knit family, learning how to work beside one another. We are so sad to see our little kiddos leave us in Spain, but are more than excited to see the ways in which they incorporate what they learned on the trip into their day to day lives. Thank you once again SO MUCH for your kids!!!! We adore them!!!!
With much love,
Brit and Gabe
June 18, 2019
These past few days have been incredible. Our awesome guides showed us around the first national park established in Europe, Picos de Europa. We began our first morning of trekking in Cain with a lesson of orientation and navigation with our guide, Alex. Our LODs, Georgia and Lexi, also helped teach our group a lesson about the 7 leave no trace (LNT) principles. After a brief break we began our long day of hiking the Cares Gorge Trail that follows the river Cares (the same river we kayaked on a few days earlier!!!). The hike was phenomenal. We walked along the river which was shadowed by walls of limestone that stretched up to 600 feet. We stopped for lunch and the views were unreal. John helped us keep a few pesky goats from stealing our lunches. After lunch, we began our descent along an exposed hillside of the trail veering away from the river.
After finishing the hike in the town of Poncebos, we transferred Mirador de Ordiales. Sam and Wallace kept our family morale high by singing songs and playing games. That evening we crossed paths with our friends from the other group and met another one of our mountain guides, Tom. Tom guided us around Lake Enol however the fog that had settled in forced us to stick close to one another. That night after some pasta, we collectively decided to play a spontaneous game of soccer. Claire showed us her fancy footwork when she scored her team two goals! After this our LODs led us in Moonup and begged the question “where are you most at peace?” to which we received some pretty interesting answers.
The following day the fog lifted and revealed spectacular views of Lake Enol and the surrounding mountains near our hostel. After a quick breakfast we began our longest trek in Picos de Europa to Cotalba Peak. The hike was challenging yet George made sure everyone kept a positive attitude, which was contagious. We made it to the peak and the views were the best we had seen thus far. The surrounding mountain and cliffs made for a great place to eat lunch. After lunch we made our descent and our LOD Harrison helped lead the whole line countless games of ABCs (categories included movies, tv shows, food, and geographical places). That evening, after a fantastic meal of traditional Spanish tapas, Aiden and Alexa helped orchestrate a hilarious game of mafia. Our entire group held their bellies from laughing so hard.
The next morning we said goodbye to Picos de Europa with one last hike along the hillside of Poncebos. We continued to have great trail conversation led by Vivian to which we were so thankful.
We cannot believe half of the trip has flown by so fast! We are feeling nostalgic towards our time in Spain but are so excited to experience a new culture in Morocco. Thank you so much for having the best kids ever!!
Brit and Gabe
PS we have a few shoutouts from our nugs:
Lexi: “hey! I am having such a great time on the trip. I love all of my new friends and my leaders are so much fun! I miss you mom, dad, and I hope you had a great Father’s Day dad and I am sorry I had to miss it.
Alexa: “Hola! I miss y’all but I’m having so much fun 🙂 tell Viv and Eli Gray I miss them. Happy late Father’s Day! Tell skip and Lola I love them! Love y’all.”
Aiden: “Hi mom, having a blast. Love you and happy Father’s Day dad!”
George: “Hi mom and dad. Loving the trip and also happy Father’s Day dad and also love my leaders, love you.”
Harrison: “Hello mother and father I am still alive. Spain has been very fun and my group is cool. Happy Father’s Day dad! Love and miss you both.”
Georgia: “hi mom and dad. I am having so much fun. Love and miss you guys and see you soon! Happy Father’s Day!”
Sam: “Hey family! I miss y’all so much and I’m having a blast. Spain is so cool and my group and leaders are great. Happy late Father’s Day and tell Mattie happy birthday!”
Wallace: “hi family and kaylee and Camille I miss y’all so much. Spain was so cool and I love my leaders and group! Happy Father’s Day dad! Lots of love!
Claire: “Sup fam! Miss y’all so much but I’m having so much fun. My leaders are amazing and the trip is so so cool! Happy Father’s Day padre! Love y’all lots and see you soon!
Vivian and John: “hey! I hope you’re enjoying the month of Will! 🙂 Johnny and I are having so much fun and we miss y’all. Brit and Gabe are the best ever! Love y’all and hope y’all had fun at Roo!”
June 15, 2019
WOW. The past 3 days with our new Spain+Morocco B family has been nothing less than an absolute blast. We started off as strangers, and are continuing to grow closer and closer every day. We kicked off the trip with a personal tour of Llanes, strolling down the coast with our two amazing guides, Chechu and Alex, who showed us all of their local routes. Although we all had just hopped off of an 8 hour flight from Atlanta, Lexi and Claire never failed to keep up the group energy, making sure the moral was high and that everyone felt welcomed and comforted being in a new country. From there, we explored the narrow streets and beautiful architecture of the town, and decided to eat at a little restaurant which served us ensalada, a traditional dish of Cachopo, breaded ham with cheese in the middle, and finished off with a delicious rice pudding desert, known as Natilla. We headed back to our home for the next 2 nights with full hearts and bellies to dive deep into our first moonup and then get a good night sleep for a first full day of kayaking and surfing!
Our first morning as a family, we were woken up by the new leaders of the day (LOD’s), George and Sam, who would set the positive tone and lead us for our full day of activities. We started off kayaking the Cares River, accompanied by our guide, Andres, and his adorable puppy, Sua. Georgia surprised us all with her strength in rowing and paddling from her experience with Crew, and we were lucky to have her show everyone the ropes. We had previously assigned them a ‘get to know you’ activity, where each member of the family was paired with another person who they did not know prior to coming on the trip. During kayaking, Harrison and Alexa proved to us that getting to know one another was not only easier than it looked, but also fun while paddling down a beautiful river.
That afternoon and the following morning for a half day, we took to the seas, where we had our first surfing lesson where we really put our knowledge to the test. The kids were overjoyed and had so much fun in the waves, continually getting back up on their boards over and over again. Vivian and Aiden quickly proved to be king and queen of ‘hanging-10’, and looked like pros throughout our surf sessions.
The following afternoon, the hardworking LOD’s, John and Wallace, lead us in a fun and also informative lesson of the 7 Nols Leadership principals. These two kept the group going on our long day of surfing and travel to Caín, where we would begin our section of trekking in Picos de Europa. We are so grateful that John and Wallace gave the group the energy they needed on this day and cannot wait to see their skills on the trails.
As everyone continues to bond deeper day after day, we have all gained a sense of appreciation and are extremely grateful to be together as a family in the beautiful location of northern Spain. We cannot thank you enough for sending your beautiful children to hang out with us for 14 days.
Brit And Gabe
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!