Friday, 25 February 2011

Morocco Trip

So the reason I haven't posted in a while is that the English course I'm taking moves too slowly to provide a constant stream of material. So I'll add the theme of travel to my posts, which is something I think about all the time.
I saved enough money to get a pair of tickets to Marrakech, Morocco, which is the launching point for backpacking excursions into the Atlas Mountains. It was that name, really, that inspired me to go. I came across it in reading Richard Halliburton's account of crossing the Sahara Desert in a biplane. I thought it unusual that he didn't stop in such a magical-sounding place, so I figured I'd go in his stead. Halliburton is the most dangerous role model any human being can have, and I got my hands on one of his books for the first time when I was very young indeed.

What these mountains really represent for me is a curtain between the known world (that is, the Mediterranean) and the mad excitement of the Dark Continent. Islam didn't reach past this barrier; the Romans didn't even bother trying. The indigenous Berbers (root of the word Barbarian, though I don't know that they fit that archetype) are a hardy people, who threw out both Arab invaders and much later, the French. My mother and girlfriend seem certain that I will be swindled, poisoned, and flogged, but that brings me perhaps to my main reason for going on this sojourn: I wish to prove to myself and to others that the world is not a dangerous place. The perpetuation of this idea in the minds of young people is one of the biggest atrocities society has ever committed. A fellow I ran into in a pub once told me that the nicest people in the world were Saudi Arabians -- he was Scottish, so I had reason to take him seriously. After Turkey, Morocco is the most liberal Islamic state in the Middle East, so I won't have the opportunity to judge people of that religion. It is a custom of mine to attend church wherever I backpack, just to gather more memorable stories (you'd be surprised where you could end up by the end of the day having begun it at a church). So it'd be fun to attend a mosque or two while I'm there. I suppose I'd need to learn the ritual of prayer before I attempt this, so I don't give them a damn good reason to poison or flog me.
More on this trip as I prepare (I've got a great big Michelin map that I'm drawing possible routes on, consulting the user-submitted photographs on Google Earth as I go).


  1. I believe i watched a Bear Grylls episode in the atlas mountains where he drank his piss.

  2. Haha yeah, I thought about using a few of Bear's survival techniques, but I figured actual survival would be preferable.