July 23, 2022
I truly can’t believe how fast these past two weeks have gone and that we are coming up on our last days together, but our time in Morocco has been incredible and the perfect way to wrap up our amazing trip. We arrived to Marrakech and were immediately welcomed with a traditional Moroccan lunch on the patio of our beautiful Riad. It was only a matter of minutes before everyone was in the pool, cooling down, and enjoying a relaxing afternoon. Timmy started a big group game of Star, a swimming game of guessing movie titles, and had the whole group involved and eager to be the narrator. After an afternoon by the pool and a long travel day, we went to bed early to prepare for our trip to the Marrakech market.
The kids woke up eager and excited to explore and experience more of the Moroccan culture and bargain their way through the market. After a brief history lesson from our tour guide, we went to a local pharmacy to learn more about Moroccan beauty products, oils, spices, and teas. With our new purchases in hand, we headed into the center of the market and visited a store that sells hand sewn, traditional rugs. We learned the history of how the rugs are made and what each design symbolizes. After some intense negotiating, Alex and McKenzie walked away with two very unique and beautiful new rugs. We spent the remainder of our morning popping into different stands and shops throughout the market; this experience is always a highlight of the two weeks and Liam even expressed that it was his thing we did on the trip. We returned to our Riad for another afternoon by the pool and some competitive games of backgammon between Miles and Caroline. We ended our day with a cooking class where we learned to make homemade bread and cook in Tajines. Maggie loved making the bread and did an amazing job kneading and folding the dough into the perfect shape. Once our meal was complete, we enjoyed every bite of our delicious, homemade meatballs, veggies, and salad.
We started our day early to beat the heat as we began our trek to the base camp of Mount Toubkal. Despite this arguably being our longest and most difficult hike of the trip, the students were nothing but encouraging and positive. Even with an afternoon rain shower, they embraced the challenge and finished the hike with smiles on their faces. Galen and Libby enjoyed celebratory chocolate bars after our arrival and it wasn’t long before the ongoing chess tournament was started up again. After our MoonUp under the stars and with a beautiful view we went to bed early to prepare for summit day. We were on the trail before the sun had even risen and with our headlamps on we began our ascent up the mountain. It wasn’t long before the sun began to rise and sky turned pink and lit up the surrounding mountains. The climb up is challenging and very steep, but each student was extremely determined to reach the top and never failed to cheer each other on. All fourteen of us reached the summit and were rewarded with the most beautiful view and sense of pride. Chorizo the mountain dog was waiting at the summit and stuck by Banks’ side as we enjoyed the view and embraced our time at the top. We returned to basecamp and it was only a matter of minutes before the whole group was napping after our long hike. The next morning we walked all the way down the mountain to the small town of Imlil for our last night in Morocco. We explored the mountain side town and visited some of the shops along the way. Billy bought a hand sewn sweatshirt and Anna bought herself a light pink Mount Toubkal tshirt. We ended our night with a big game of cards and another amazing MoonUp.
We are sad to leave this beautiful country and that our time together is coming to an end, but the group is excited for one last adventure in Madrid for our banquet night.
– Lily Grace and Diego
July 22, 2022
We just wrapped up our trekking portion through Spain. Our journey through the Picos began with a night in a quaint mountain town known as Sotres. We had a lot of down time so the kids got to enjoy the views and play some games. Caroline and Maggie took the time to come up with a crisp handshake to solidify their bond they’ve made. We later enjoyed a hearty dinner to get us ready for the days of trekking to come. After dinner, we took the kids to a shop to purchase some souvenirs. Anna, Billy, and some of the others bought sweatshirts with the name of a famous peak written on the front to commemorate their time in Spain. Liam was kind enough to buy the whole group a big chocolate bar which we enjoyed at MoonUp. Our hike the next day took us from the mountain town through the heart of Picos de Europa. We were surrounded by massive peaks and breath-taking views. Towards the end of the first trek, we came across one last uphill portion that all the kids braved. Alex had enough energy to run up the last hill! On the other side of the hill was the hostel, so we got everyone settled into and enjoyed a nice dinner. The group went to bed early to prepare for the following day.
The group woke up early next morning to begin our summit day. The hike was tough but this was our strongest group yet! Everyone braved the long hike and we successfully made our way to the top of one the peaks in the Picos. Timmy and some of the others enjoyed their lunch on the peak. We were all very proud of ourselves for completing the trek, especially Libby and Kenzie who didn’t hike much before the trip. On our way down, Maggie carried our speaker and played some jams off the playlist we made as a group. We finished our hike with a smooth cable car ride to the bottom of the mountain where we waited to get picked up by our transport to Cain. Banks killed some time by playing fetch with a dog he met in the park and Galen decided to treat himself to three scoops of strawberry gelato, which he ordered in Spanish!
We made our way to Cain, a small village in the Picos valley, where we spent the night before our last trek in Spain. We had some time to kill so we took the kids on a brief walk through the town. Miles found some locally made salami at a shop, which he enjoyed as a snack. We took the kids to the river nearby to relax and enjoy some cool air. For dinner we had some delicious homemade pasta and chicken. We finished the night with a great MoonUp and got some good rest before our last night. Our last trek was through a famous canyon in the National park. The hike was full of steep cliffs and lush foliage surrounding the river running through the canyon. It was a perfect end to our Spain portion and we can’t wait to get our Moroccan adventure started!
LG and Diego
July 14, 2022
Hi Spain and Morocco families!
Everyone has arrived in Spain and so far it’s been absolutely amazing. We began our adventure driving from Madrid to Llanes, a small ocean side town, where we got to explore and surf. Before we even arrived at our first hostel, Galen got the whole group together to begin making our trips playlist, which has been the soundtrack to our past few days and a constant work in progress. It didn’t take more than a few minutes after arriving for everyone to be outside exploring the beautiful place we would be spending our next two days. The weather was absolutely beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and it was the perfect afternoon to play soccer and hackie sack. Diego taught the group how to play a game called death sack, which is similar to hackie sack, and we’ve spent every free minute since then playing. Timmy and Billy have proved to be the two best in our group and have been won back to back games. Once our afternoon games came to an end, we headed into the town of Llanes for a delicious dinner of spaghetti Bolognese and chicken!
We woke up early the next morning, eager and excited for our first full day of activities, and headed to the mountains for canyoneering. With our wetsuits and harnesses on we were ready to go. In order to make our way down the river we had repel into the canyon which was both exciting and nerve racking for many of the students. Liam and McKenzie didn’t hesitate to give it a shot and were the first to head down; they set a perfect example for the rest of the group to follow and everyone cheered each other on as each student went down. Once we were fully in the canyon, we continued on to some amazing cliff jumping opportunities, swimming through the caves and crevasses, and even going down natural slides formed by the rocks. Banks and Anna particularly loved the cliff jumping sanctions and never missed an opportunity to cannonball in! After our canyoneering experience we definitely worked up an appetite and headed to a local pizzeria for lunch. Everyone enjoyed their own pizza and then a scoop of gelato to finish up our meal! Feeling full and energized, we ended our day on the beach learning how to surf. Alex was a natural and impressed the whole group as he got up on the board with ease and paddled out to the bigger waves. The water was a little rough, but every student did an amazing job continuing to try and by the end of the day everyone had stood up at least once. We ended our night with another great dinner, a group card game started by Libby, and a very sweet MoonUp led by our first LODs, leaders of the day, Miles and Caroline.
The next morning we got to sleep in and have a nice, leisurely breakfast before heading back out to surf. This time around the students felt more confident in their skills and were excited to put them to the test! Everyone had a blast catching waves and cheering each other on. As the waves got bigger many of the students ditched their boards and finished the lesson swimming and playing in the waves. Maggie was determined to keep working on her skills and was standing up with ease by the end of the morning! We were sad to leave the beautiful beaches of Llanes but excited to start our next adventure in the Picos de Europa to begin our trekking portion!
– Lily Grace + Diego
July 12, 2022
Hello Spain + Morocco Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Madrid and are settled into their first hostel of the trip. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!