This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”. If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.
Karen’s blog piqued my interest the second I saw it. Karen is a girl who got tired of the corporate grind and decided to quit her job and travel the world solo. Her stories and photos are inspiring and her journey thus far has been incredible, and I must say that this particular Adventure Spotlight has been the most unique one I’ve been lucky enough to feature so far. You can follow Karen’s adventures on WordPress and Instagram.
To put it simply, I’m just another travel-loving girl. A couple years ago I took a trip to Italy with my parents that changed everything. It opened up my world, renewed my sense of adventure and left me feeling more at home than, well, my actual home. I was hooked. Within a week and a half of being back in the States, I booked a trip to return to Italy in just three months! This time, it was all solo.
Since then, all my trips have been that way. My current trip marks the fourth and this time I’m going around the world! I quit my corporate job in June and I left Miami with whatever I could fit in my backpack on July 3rd. My blog, iwalkwithpurpose.wordpress.com, is where I write about what I’ve been doing and experiencing as I go along. I plan on having more detailed write ups about locations later.
Currently I’ve found my way to Morocco and have been living the “local” life for about two months now, rather than country-hopping like I usually do. This chapter will be coming to a close soon. Then I will be going forward to Spain, Athens, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Fiji, and Hawaii.
Mountain Villa, somewhere in Morocco. (Near Tamanar)
I started the first leg of my round-the-world trip in Morocco. I explored from Marrakech down to Taghazout during the month of July. After leaving and exploring Europe for a month, I decided I wanted to come back. I got in touch with the local friends I made here and we decided to travel around the coast in September. So I booked my flight to return and we found ourselves here.
I dubbed this location the “Mountain Villa” because to be honest, I don’t know if this location has a name. We loaded up our bags and boards in a sweet purple VW van and took off going up along the coast. All I know is that it was near the small village of Tamanar, somewhere between Imsouane and Tafadna. A friend had a place there, so that became our base. We turned a 4 to 5 day stay into two weeks!
Top 5 Experiences:
1. Fishing Village
We spent a fair amount of our time at the fishing huts with our new friend, Da’ Hmad. He’s a local to the area and a friend of the villa caretaker. He so graciously drove us down there whenever we wanted, which was great because we didn’t have a car and it was too far to get there by walking.
He had his own fishing hut that he let us use so we were comfortable. It offered a place to sit, some fishing poles, a propane tank for making tea or food, condiments, and shelter from the hot Moroccan sun.
Inside the Hut
Every arrival would begin with traditional Berber mint tea and cookies. I think about half of the days were spent just drinking tea! We explored the landscape, surfed, played in the ocean spray, and enjoyed fresh seafood (fish and octopus) given to us by the local fisherman. It nice to see such a simple life. They have just what they need and nothing more. They seemed to be free of the urge to to live a life of excess.
2. No running water
Sometimes I think mishaps like this are what we live for as travelers. After our first day at the house, we awoke to no running water. I had fun laughing at myself upon realizing how helpless I became. “What!? No water!?!? Ummmm, ok, shoot. What do we do? I’m supposed to flush the toilet HOW!?”
It wasn’t too shocking for me as I’ve been in that situation before as a kid while visit the Philippines. But, it was different as an adult as it made me realize how much more difficult life is without clean running water and how much of it we waste. It was our reality for two weeks but people live like this every day. We had to ration it and conserve it. It was humbling and a reminder to always be grateful for what you have. These little lessons, reminders, and experiences are all part of traveling. As much as I love the excitement and carefree wandering, the simple and grounding experiences are just as important and memorable.
3. From the mountain to the beach
We decided to take a break from the fishing village and adventure off to a somewhat secluded surf beach. We checked the surf reports for the best day with the best conditions and made our way. Last time my friend said they borrowed a donkey. But as it was the weekly souk day, we were on our own. A one hour hike later took us from the mountain to the beach. Don’t fear taking a random trail. It will probably take you to somewhere cool.
We had a long stretch of all to ourselves. Some villagers were down there as well but for the most part we had our own section. It was a great beach with clean water, nice soft sand, and good shade from the cliffs and rocks. There has to be tons of beaches just like this along the coast: hidden and relatively untouched. You just need some adventure in you to go find them!
We got some good surf in, played in the water, took some photos, and had a surfboard picnic. After spending all day there we were wiped out and dreading the hike back up. We were both so tired. Then to our surprise, we see Da’ Hmad! We spotted him in the distance, sitting on some rock. He happily loaded us up in his little vehicle, and toted us back to our house after we watched the pink sunset.
4. Da’ Hmad
This guy is a Legend. He really is the best of the best and I’ve never met someone like him. In places where everyone is trying to get something from you (I’m a tourist, ripping us off is a national sport in the main areas), he wanted nothing. We were strangers but he treated us like we were his own kids. His family. He toted us around to the fishing village, drove us into Tamanar (the closest town) when we needed to purchase food at the market, gave us food, let us use his hut, made us copious amounts of tea, and never asked or expected anything. We tried to give him money for gas or pay for food. We offered whatever we could just to give something back. All efforts were futile. He’s even visited us in the current town we are staying at and brought us fresh argan cooking oil made by his sister. He’s probably come to visit us at least five times!
Da’ Hmad and Me
I will never forget riding in the back of the vehicle, listening to his berbere music, and watching the tassels in the car sway back and forth as we twisted around the windy mountain roads. It’s people like this you could only dream of meeting. We need more people like him and I wish for everyone to come across a “Da’ Hmad” some day.
5. Road Trip
There’s nothing like loading up that purple VW van and knowing you’re going to hit the road with it. When we decided we needed to get back to civilization, we had our friend pick us up and we road tripped it back down the coast. We stopped at numerous view points, gawked at the goats climbing up the trees, had lunch and got a surf in at Imsouane, and made it back around nightfall. I’m not quite sure what it is about riding in a car with your friends down the coast, but you can never go wrong!
Our VW Van
Goats in Trees
It was quite hard to leave. Not only because a place is so beautiful and you have met great people, but because you’re never completely sure you will be able to make your way there again.
Something I wish I’d Known:
Morocco is a place that will eat you alive if you let it. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s part of the fun actually. One of the ways to bond and laugh with your fellow travellers is by sharing stories of how bad you got ripped off your first few days before you got your bearings. It’s a good, light-hearted laugh about the mishaps that everyone experiences during their first time here.
Morocco can be a bit rough around the edges and sometimes things never seem to work all. It’s best to take it easy and get into “Moroccan time”. It’s kind of like being on “island time”, but with loads of mint tea and being surrounded by chaos.
Best Piece of Advice:
Morocco is an eclectic country with a variety of places to explore. Find “off the beaten track” areas like a mountain village such as the one I visited. It will show you the true locals, the way of life, and the authentic food of Morocco.
Get your hands on a vehicle and road trip it down the coast! I think this is the best way to explore Morocco. The bigger touristy cities like Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca, etc. can put you off because the locals can be pretty rude and aggressive. I suggest making friends with locals (the ones not trying to make money off of you) and experience the country with them. The surf towns along the coast are way more laid back and chilled compared to the cities.
If you have any questions about traveling Morocco and want to know what it’s like or what to expect, feel free to contact me at email@example.com! I’m a solo-female traveler and can give you advice on that (in Morocco or in general), round-the-world travel, or saving for round-the-world travel if anyone has been thinking about it. I’ve spent most of my time in the coastal towns of Tamraght and Taghazout, and would be happy to chat about these locations if anyone is thinking of visiting :-)
Cheers and Happy Traveling!
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Karen. I can’t wait to see what the rest of your journey has in store!