Hey Folks, sorry its been months and month since I've posted anything. Life in Morocco is busy! I had a big adventure last week. I had a week off from school so I finally decided to head up into the mountains. I went alone because most of my friend had to stay in Fes for various reasons, but I did have time to stop in Rabat with my roommate Amanda and have an amazing sushi dinner with some of our friends before I went down south. The sushi was almost as good as the mountain trip even though it cost me what I'd spend for a week's worth of Moroccan food. We sat next to a sushi conveyor belt and picked what we wanted as it came around. I'm so sick of Moroccan food... The chicken tagines here float in a gallon of corn oil and if I have to eat another one I'm going to start leaving grease stains on my clothes when i sweat. Yuck.
Anyway, I got to the mountain village of Imlil late at night and tried to find one of Amanda's peace core friends so I could have a free place to stay, but the taxi driver took me to the home of some French guy I didn't know. It worked anyway because he was totally cool and found me a place to sleep. The next day as I was buying food I asked everyone I met about the route to the Toubkal refuge.
"It's easy! You can't miss it! Just walk up the valley!" Everyone told me.
Yet somehow, about 1 kilometer outside of town, I took wrong turn and walked 3 hours up the wrong valley. Whoops. Here I met a group of French and Moroccan mountaineers who laughed at me for being stupid then invited me to follow them to another refuge much farther away. They were going over a pass the next day to the Toubkal refuge anyway so all I would really be doing is adding an extra day and night on the mountain to my original trek.
The scenery was gorgeous and much beyond my expectations. We passed Berber villages and shepards with huge flocks of sheep in remote hillsides we're you'd never expect people to actually live and work. The first day we probablly hiked 9 hours which was way more than I was expecting. We arrived at the refuge after the fog had settled in and I ate an amazing dinner of bread and Kiri before going to bed.
The next day we didn't have to hike very far to get to the Toubkal refuge but it was slow going since everything was so steep and the gravel was so loose. We went up over a pass and down into Toubkal valley and joined up with hoards of other climbers at the refuge who where were preparing to make the acsent the next day. I left at 7 the following morning and hiked like a madman ditching the French folks and passing several groups of climbers who had left at 5:30. I reached the summit at 10:15 and was rewarded with perfect weather. I could see most of the High Atlas mountains including lots of little villages in the lower parts and also the haze from Marrakesh to the south. The summit is 4,165 meters (13,650 feet) which is almost as high as the highest Colorado peaks but way short of Mt Arrarat (5165 m, 16940 ft) which I climbed in 2003.
On the way down I made record time. I was the first one back to the refuge that day by probably an hour and actualy jogged most of the way down the valley (the valley I missed entirely on the way up) back to Imlil. I didn't stop but jumped right in a grand taxi to Marrakesh then an 8 hour train to Fes. I got back to Fes at 2 am, just in time to hose off and pack my books up for class the next morning. It was really a perfect day.
So anyway, I'm back in class now. I'm doing a 3 week media Arabic class then jumping straight into advanced Arabic when I'm finished. I can actually hold a pretty detailed discussion now about elections, sanctions and the war in Iraq if I need to, but I still don't know all the words i need to buy an onion or reserve a hotel room. The program here jumps straight into the advanced stuff and leaves the things that are actually useful for us to learn on our own time. Anyway, I miss you all! Write me some emails, I like to here from you y'all as much as possible.
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