When there’s nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide
It’s official, Morocco’s borders will be closed to the outside world till 1 January 2022; they’re hoping to get a grip on the Omicron situation, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a plan in place.
Foreigners in Morocco, and Moroccans abroad are scrambling to board the last few repatriation flights, and I will be heading towards Dakhla, a coastal city in the disputed region of Western Sahara.
Time to Reflect
I’ve had a lot of alone time on this trip, and it has really got me thinking about what’s really important to me in this lifetime. In the past few years, a lot of images that I pegged with my personal identity, whether it be relationships, creative pursuits, business ideas or travel adventures, have crumbled in this past year. It’s not that those things aren’t significant in my life, they’re just not able to capture the true essence of who I really am.
I’m at a point in life, where I cannot go any further without understanding my true purpose. Anything I do from here on, must be in full alignment with it, whether its work, play, friendships or self-expression.
Beach Town to a Ghost Town
Tourism accounts for around 7% of Morocco’s economy and things aren’t looking very good on that front. International tourism was brought to a standstill with the recent border closures and the Covid situation leading up to this point hasn’t helped domestic tourism either.
Taghazout, a quaint fishing village turned hippie surf-town, is one such places in Morocco that’s feeling the burn. Situated on the western coast, it’s a popular spot for surfers from around the world to come and practice their sport in a beautiful, laidback setting. The town’s cafes are usually filled with sunburnt adventure junkies from all over the world who come here for the big waves and the chilled-out vibe.
The water is cold, especially in winter months. A wetsuit is advisable to regulate one’s body temperature in the freezing water. I jumped-in without one and came out in less than a few minutes as I could barely breathe.
However, Jawad, a Moroccan friend of mine from Rabat, ran back and forth on the empty shoreline about 30 times, got his heart-rate up, and swam like a fish for 20 minutes while I lay in the sun on a beach towel.
Not every battle is worth fighting, I guess.
I ended up staying for a couple days at a local surf hostel and met amazing people who were about to leave Morocco on repatriation flights. We spent some beautiful nights on the hostel terrace listening to music, eating together and sharing stories from our travels.
While some were in Taghazout learning to surf, others were teaching yoga, making music, doing photography or simply hanging out. It really made me think about how people in our generation are starting to lean into their life purpose in a way that’s genuine and uncompromising.
A lot of people I’ve met recently are tired of 9 to 5 jobs and being overworked. Many are left feeling unfulfilled in their daily lives and have found new ways of earning a living online and funding their travel experiences. Especially after Covid, people are no longer investing in situations that make them feel unhappy, undervalued and dissatisfied.
Off to Paradise Valley
I’ve stayed in a town called Agadir for nearly three weeks now, and I’m staying in a fully solar powered home where you cannot charge your devices, take a hot shower or read at night if there’s no sun during the day. There is no backup power, no connection to the grid and all the vehicles in the home are powered by electricity. It is admirable how my host Zora, has a built a whole life around renewable energy and reduced consumption, even though its a bit extreme for me at times.
When I meet people like Zora, I can feel their passion, commitment and singularity with a cause. Its an unrelenting pursuit which takes over their entire life and being. People like her refuse to compromise on their values, even if it means inconveniencing themselves or going through great pains to do be able to do simple, everyday things. I think a lot of people reach a point in their lives, where they simply cannot go back to their old way of living.
When I first saw pictures of Paradise Valley on the internet, I was mesmerized. Turquoise pools of fresh water nestled between rock cliffs and palm trees right in the middle of a valley made up of dry, arid mountains. I had only read about oasis’ in books as a child, it was a magical concept to me, having lush greenery and a fresh source of water in the middle of a desert.
When we reached the valley, it was breathtaking. The expanse of the oasis surrounded by mountains on all sides felt like entering a wonderland.
Morocco has had one of the driest winters in a long time, and one could see how water levels had dropped across the valley. The turquoise water was nowhere to be found and only shallow pools of stagnant water filled up the deep crevices where cliff jumping was a go-to activity.
It is overwhelming how fast the climate is changing, and who knows, this whole place might dry up by the end of my lifetime. No more diving into natural pools, having meals by the river or having access to clean, drinking water from the spring. A whole way of life is changing right before our eyes
The only comfort is in the fact that, people like Zora, with small, everyday actions are finding ways to offset the damage that has already been done. My biggest hope is that more people on the path of conservation recognize their calling, find strength in their inner purpose and help bring us back to life.