Thursday, January 5, 2012

The First Week of a New Year

It’s been a while. The past week or so has mainly consisted of introducing my family to Morocco and giving them a glimpse into my daily delights and challenges. It’s meant so much for me to have them here and just a week in their company is making it hard to face being so completely alone again in a few days. I feel better prepared for it this time, but saying goodbye to my parents last night felt a lot like saying goodbye to them at the Burlington airport five months ago.

Bree (my sister) and Travis (my brother-in-law) still have a couple days left with me in Morocco. Our plans to go to Marrakesh for a few days were cancelled due to the nasty cold Bree & I seem to have acquired. We decided to stay here and lay low instead, especially because in a few days, I'll be on the road again, in a new country, with its own set of puzzles to solve. It’s hard not to be consumed with upcoming logistics and worries for a new place, but I’m trying to enjoy the little time I have left here, and savor my memories of having some familiar faces in the midst of this unfamiliar year.

One highlight in particular was a cooking class at the Riad where we were staying: Moroccan salad, vegetable Tajine, oranges with cinnamon & rose water and, of course, mint tea.

We also had the best helper (the 3 year-old daughter of the couple who runs the Riad became a new friend).

I'll be honest and say that it's really hard to let go of this visit and remind myself that I have seven more months of solo travel before I can come home to this again. It was both rejuvenating and really nostalgia-inducing to see family at this point in the year. But I am so glad they came, even though it's hard to go through another goodbye.

Sometimes this year feels like something I'll never be able to explain to people; not only because of all these new places and sights and sounds but also because the experience of being alone in this is, I think, a really unique one. It's so strange to feel like I'm constantly making up the rules as I go along, trying to define exactly that I'm doing and how to do it, and never quite sure what I'm working towards except for making my eyes a little bit wider and my mind a little bit fuller.

Because of this, it makes me so grateful that in Morocco, I got to have visitors, to have people who can maybe understand a bit more of what this is for me; who will listen to my stories and share their own. People who will now know what I'm talking about when I mention the Oudayas, who will (strongly) encourage me to make tajines when I'm home in the U.S., and who remind me how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing, but also remind me that it's okay if I need to cry about it sometimes. In other words, people who make me feel at home.

Even in Morocco.

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