July 20, 2023
Hellloooo family and friends!
Spirits are high as we write to you from Morocco! After a successful and safe travel day (and a sad farewell to our Spanish guides), we made our way to Imlil, Morocco. Imlil is known as “the gateway” to the Atlas Mountains and sits nestled beneath its peaks. We were all so stoked to explore our mountain riad and soak in the views from our balconies. Naomi and Gavin kept everyone laughing during our delicious lunch of traditional Moroccan food. Afterwards, we were fortunate enough to have some time to relax. Harry and Ben were able to score some very cool Moroccan style jackets at a nearby shop. They were very proud of their purchases! After dinner and moonup, we headed to bed early to get some rest for our big day!
Our first day of Toubkal was a bit rainy, but our group powered through with positive attitudes. Brandon and Gavin did an awesome job as LODs guiding us to base camp with the help of our Moroccan guide, Ahmed. As we traversed through the valley up a gradual incline, we kept ourselves busy with trail games and songs. Kennedy and Thatcher did a great job of keeping the vibes up and provided very entertaining trail talk. We ran through questions like “what are your top three favorite sauces” and “what is your frozen yogurt order?” In no time, we made it to our destination and settled in for tea and popcorn. Dinner conversation flowed like always and we shared in our excitement about the upcoming summit bid. Once again, preparing for a big day!
We are happy to report that 11 out of 12 student summited, and we are so proud of the effort put forth by everyone. This section overall is challenging but all of our students were absolute rockstars. At the top of Toubkal, Macy befriended some Brits and our LODs read an amazing quote that perfectly summarized our accomplishment. On the way back down, Izzy led our group with confidence and kept spirits high. Everyone was rewarded with a rest hour when they reached the bottom, and Henry provided some much needed laughs as we recounted the day.
On our trek back down the next day, Will was able to practice some of his French with Ahmed (as Morocco is a francophone country) and even shared some of his knowledge with us. Mia performed the majority of the Hamilton soundtrack for our hype music. When we reached the bottom, we were surprised with a beautiful picnic lunch in the shade of some beautiful trees. Afterwards, we loaded up the van and made our way to Marrakech where we will spend our last few days together before Madrid.
Hobson and I are so proud of everyone for their perseverance and are so excited to share more with you in the next few days. Til then, we’ll be playing pool games and exploring markets!
All the best,
Kate + Hobson
July 17, 2023
Hello from the Madrid airport!
There is excitement in the air as we prep ourselves for the next leg of our journey into Morocco. We are feeling tired and salty as we wrapped up our two days of surfing in the northern Spain town of Llanes. We certainly had two full days of activities and we are very proud of the group’s enthusiasm. There has been no shortage of excitement here. The group is really hitting their stride and it has been a pleasure watching their different personalities come together. We have shoutouts and messages from the group to the parents, so make sure to read to the end!
We were ready for a change of scenery after hiking through the mountains for so long, and everyone was thrilled to see the ocean. The coastline in the north is beautiful. It reminds me of the cliffs in Western Ireland, but with a lot more Spanish people. We enjoyed our two-hour ride into Llanes and found ourselves at our small countryside hotel. This was a unique stay because each half of the group (boys and girls) got their own apartments to share. The boys lucked out and got a mansion (as they lovingly called it) to share with a TV that was used to watch Spanish movies at night. The girls didn’t mind, though, as they spent most of their free time lounging in the sun and reading their books. Naomi has proved to be the most efficient reader, finishing her books and helping others decide what to read next! She has impressed everyone with her ability to adapt to the Spanish culture, making the most out of her “siesta” (nap) time.
We ate dinner in Llanes for our first night and explored the town afterwards. We were in the middle of our Moonup, when a group of young Spanish backpackers chose to sit on the cathedral steps we were using. They were surprisingly interested in our group and speaking English, so we talked to them for several minutes which proved to be entertaining. Harry told them he was from Chicago and they all became infatuated with him as the only NBA team they knew was the Chicago Bulls (because of Michael Jordan). Harry gave his best effort to speak Spanish back to them and earned some respect from the Spanish locals. That night we tried to go to bed early because of our big following day.
We awoke to a treat as our guide, Alejandro, and Henry cooked us our breakfast in their apartment kitchen. Henry was the champion chef, cooking for 14 people with a smile on his face in the early morning. Kate and I fielded a lot of questions early in the morning about what exactly was canyoneering (our first activity). It involves jumping, sliding, and swimming down rivers. We all put on our silly looking wetsuits and began our descent into the canyon. Everyone quickly decided they loved canyoneering after our first big jump off a waterfall. Will led the pack as he flipped, twisted, and 360’ed off the jumps. You would’ve thought he was an Olympic gymnast the way he moved. Ben won our impromptu Moondance belly flop contest, by completing more of a face plant than a belly flop, but was hands down the winner regardless. He really has no fear. Thatcher was our designated cave explorer as he went first into any caves and gave everyone reassurance about following suit. There was a memorable moment where we entered the cave to find him sitting underneath a 3-meter waterfall, enjoying a natural bath.
Following our canyoneering section, we chose an Italian pizzeria as our lunch spot to replenish our energy before surfing. Everyone finished a pizza and we had to get coffee afterwards to keep us up. Mia became the barista of the group as she explained the differences in the types of coffee and what people should get. The waiter looked overwhelmed as he took an order for LOTS of cappuccinos. We got ice cream after lunch as a treat and walked around the town to kill time before surfing. After ice cream, we headed to the beach.
It was a memorable first day of surfing. We had a little bit of rain but everyone was still excited as the waves were solid. Everyone talked a big game about surfing so Kate and I were excited to see who was going to back it up. Ben, Henry, and Izzy proved to be the most adept. They even impressed the guides and got to use shorter boards for more speed. They were inspiring as we watched them carve up some waves! Others found their fun by paddling around and enjoying the ocean waves. Gavin started a social group out in the ocean by bobbing amongst big waves on her surfboard. Other girls joined until there was a giant circle of Moondancer’s hanging on their boards! We finished our first session tired but excited to go back for the next one.
Dinner was one of our favorites as we went to a Spanish restaurant that served lots and lots of cooked meat! Ribs, steak, chicken, and lots of grilled vegetables. Naomi even tried the black pudding and said it wasn’t bad! Macy held the record for most crepes eaten, and she fearlessly ate the padron peppers despite the spiciness. That night we packed our bags ahead of time and we had a wonderful Moonup in the boys’ mansion. Brandon and Izzy were our leaders of the day and we had our best Moonup yet, led by them. They suggested afterward that the whole group join in the mansion for a Spanish movie night, recommended by our guides. They all thought it was hilarious watching American movies with Spanish words. We were impressed by Brandon and Izzy’s teamwork, leadership, and organizational skills.
The next morning we were lucky to have Henry cook us breakfast again. We all finished our food and packed the vans for our last surfing session. Will kept the vibes high by constantly picking on his Ukelele in the van ride. The final surfing session proved to be a quick one as the waves were massive. Ben and Henry fearlessly caught a few, and we cheered them on from the beach. We ended up having a beach party playing frisbee and creating sand castles. Brandon has unanimously been voted the worst frisbee player with the most potential. If he can learn to throw well, then he’s headed to the league. We took showers at a nearby hostel and said goodbye to our Spanish trekking guides. It was surprisingly emotional as we all hugged goodbye. They were so much fun.
Our car rides involved a lot of sleeping, sing along’s, and plenty of snacks. Madrid was a nice break with hot showers and comfortable beds. Everyone made sure to get a good night’s sleep!
No one complained and everyone gave it their all during our two days in Llanes. Kate and I have loved watching the students put themselves out there. The growth is real and the friendships are strengthening. Morocco will be hot, but we are more than ready to explore. Cheers from Spain, and see you in Morocco!
Hobson, Kate, and the 3A Moondance Group!
Gavin: Having so much fun! I loved canyoneering Dad. Love y’all. I hope Sailor has fun in Madrid! Make sure you cut Celeste’s nails.
Izzy: Hi! I love and miss y’all very much. Having so much fun! Tell Ellen that I miss her. Give the dogs a big kiss for me.
Mia: Happy belated birthday Evi and Zoe! I hope y’all had so much fun. Yay for being a teenager. I miss you mom and dad, I’m safe mom! I’m having so much fun. Please tell Audrey and Morgan that I miss them very much.
Kennedy: hi mom and dad! I miss you a lot. Just finished canyoneering and surfing. Headed to Morocco tomorrow. Tell James and Claiborne I said hi!
Macy: Hey mom and dad. Love and miss y’all so much. Miss Luke and Bear. Everything we have done so far has been so fun. See you soon! Have fun in Utah and Vegas!
Naomi: Hey mom and dad! I’m doing great. My knee is holding up. Say hi to Noelle. Love and miss you guys!
Henry- Hola, Been having a great time so far got pounded by waves today. Thanks for sending me on the trip miss y’all.
Will- Hey mom and dad!! Love y’all. We are about to head to Morocco and are staying in Madrid tonight. Spain was a lot of fun! Very beautiful and I definitely want to go back to “Cain” and “soltres” when I’m older with some friends and with y’all. We met some Natives that guided us through “Los Picos de Europas”. Alejandro and Irene were great. I spoke pretty much only in French with Irene so that was super cool. Love y’all
Ben – Howdy. Spain is very pretty! I am having a great time here and I am very excited for Morocco. The hiking was super dope. Miss y’all
Brandon- Hi mom and dad I am having a great time in Spain except for almost drowning while surfing today and we are going to Morocco tomorrow and I am excited. Can’t wait to see y’all in Big Sky soon and miss y’all
Thatcher- Hey everyone! Spain is so beautiful and I am so excited to be on the way to Morocco. See y’all soon!
Harry- Hey team! I am having an amazing time, thanks for sending me on this trip. See you soon
July 14, 2023
¡Hola hola hola!
GREETINGS from beautiful Spain! We have had a spectacular first few days here in Picos de Europa and are so excited to share everything we’ve been up to. Vibes are high, the mountains are tall, and everyone has been absolutely crushing our treks. We couldn’t be prouder!
Airport day started off strong with a few rounds of the name game and a vivacious car ride to Caín with Taylor Swift, Queen, and Mt Joy blasting from our van speakers. The girls were quick to spark conversation, mostly led by Kennedy whom we later selected as our first girl Leader of the Day (LOD). When we arrived to our first hostel, we marveled as the Picos de Europa rose out of the ground all around us. Everyone settled in for a quick round of cards before dinner while Will serenaded us with his ukulele. We’re so happy to have some musical talent on the trip! For dinner, we were treated to pasta, chicken nuggets, and of course – ice cream for dessert.
The next morning we rose with the sun and prepared for our first full day together. After feasting over breakfast, our LOD’s lead the morning huddle and informed everyone of our mileage, timing, and overall plan for the day. Harry struck up conversations with our guide Alejandro at the front of the group and was very curious about the Cares Gorge. We gazed in awe at the sweeping landscapes and mountains, traversed over bridges, and ducked through tunnels as we made our way down the trail. Izzy and Mia entertained us along the way with a game of ‘telepathy’ in which we tried to guess what celebrity, city, or food they were thinking of based off of yes or no questions. Before we knew it, we had arrived at the end of our trail, but not before our guides led us to a beautiful river to cool off in. Gavin rushed right into the freezing cold water with zero fear! We ended the day with a fabulous dinner in the village of Sotres, where Ben and Thatcher were almost successful in building a water bottle tower.
Our second day of trekking consisted of one of the most iconic trails in Picos de Europa, and with good reason! Rolling hills filled with cattle and sheep laid before us as we started our journey. Henry and Naomi both were able to capture some amazing photos on their cameras during our trek and we can’t wait to see how they turn out. It seems we have some young artists with us this session! As the incline continued to grow, so did our positive attitudes. Hobson and I are so proud of this crew for completing a hard day with zero pessimistic vibes. The views from our mountain hostel were certainly worth it! After a moment of relaxation, Macy engaged everyone in a game of hackie sack on the lawn. Brandon showed off his athleticism and kept everyone laughing during our friendly competition. How cool is it that we can play such fun games in some of the most beautiful places on Earth?!
Our last day in Picos was well spent. We headed up towards Horcados Rojos to take in some amazing views. The beginning of our day was met with some difficult uphill, but we are happy to report that every single one of our students emerged victorious. Thankfully, the trail flattened out afterwards for a bit and we all laughed and sang as the mountains sprawled out before us. Luckily, we were treated to a gondola ride down the mountain with BEAUTIFUL views of the mountain range. Our day ended in Llanes after some time spent in the car. We headed into town for a yummy dinner and even got to walk around a bit. During Moonup we had a Spanish school pass by and everyone was able to practice their Spanish/English as we all chatted about sports teams and music. It was a great end to a great day!
We are so excited for our surfing section and can’t wait to fill you in so soon!
Adios for now,
Kate + Hobson
July 11, 2023
Hello Spain + Morocco Families!
We heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Madrid and is off to their first adventure! 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!