Morocco + France. A good week.

It has been a really good week. To avoid succumbing to the frailties of memory, I will write things down and share them with you in the process.

You can find all the companion photos for Morocco and France on my Instagram, here.

Donna and I took our first vacation together this year, and we decided to hit up the Kingdom of Morocco in North Africa. We started the planning process a few months ago but left the small details until the end. We tend to plan things in broad strokes. We knew what we wanted to get out of this trip, generally speaking—check out cool cities, admire the ancient history, buy some stuff, and then head home.

The broad strokes: fly into Marrakech, spend a day or two there. Take a three-day Safari guided tour from Marrakech to Fes. Spend time in Fes, hit up Chefchaouen as time permits. Fly out from Casablanca.

And that’s what we did. We had a great time in Morocco and I would say it was one of the better vacations we have taken together.

It wasn’t so much the location itself. We just really needed a vacation together. 2018 has been stressful in more ways than one for us, and it was really nice to get back to basics and just enjoy the world out there. We treated each other well, watched each other’s backs, and communicated. No drama and no tension. Just enjoying each other’s company.

It can be crazy how much we take each other for granted. It is good to stop, reflect, and smell the proverbial roses. I am continuing my weekly journaling and affirmations of gratitude, and that has not stopped at all during the vacation.

Notable things that happened in Morocco:

  • Watching belly dancers perform and tipping them in Moroccan dirham bills, cash money style.
  • The local food, especially the tajine dishes—slow-cooked stew with various meats. As a meat-eater, I appreciated this cuisine a lot. Donna enjoyed it less, but we managed to have a glass of wine with each meal, so not all was lost.
  • The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, where Yves Saint Laurent spent much of his formative years. Absolutely stunning views, fabulous recreations of his iconic works, and no better place to take photos.
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride over Marrakech and watching the sun rise.
  • Getting 4G Internet in the Sahara desert.
  • Fun interactions with sheep, camels, and monkeys. Camels are fun beasts to ride.
  • Observing the rituals of the local Moroccan people, the Berbers. Visiting one of their homes and feeling humbled by the process.
  • Playing drums, next to a warm camp fire, in the cold of night.
  • Going for a day trip around Fes with a great tour guide. Seeing all the best views in the city in ways that only an insider could.
  • Feeling pangs of regret at my woefully inadequate French. All of my high school French has been terribly squandered and I wish I could have communicated better. C’est la vie.

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After Morocco, we spent some time together in Paris. Paris was good, but in an entirely different way.

Highlights from Paris:

  • The food. The wine. (Of course!)
  • Lots of walking. 10,000+ step days.
  • Buying local art from the Montmartre market.
  • Visiting the Cubism exhibition at le Centre Pompidou. Picasso, Braque, Cézanne, and more…ooooh la la.
  • The Louvre Museum. ‘Nuff said.
  • The Champs-Élysées.
  • The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.
  • The majestic Notre-Dame de Paris. Stained glass windows for days.
  • Catching fire and hitting six shots in a row on a Parisian basketball court. Sure it was just shooting around, but did it feel good. Still got the touch.
  • Catching up with old pals Jon and Alix, whom I had not seen since they moved to Paris over two years ago. Laughing so hard at their jokes that my face hurt.

Lots of good memories and a fine way to finish off the year. Now, time to get back to the daily grind.

Peace,

James

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