Seasons of Change.

2011.10.19 by Josh Erb; 1378 words.

Originally I had planned to devote this entire post to my recent weekend trip to Marrakech, Ourika, and Essaouira. While I still plan to devote the majority of it to that, I have also come to the conclusion that there are some crucial social and emotional realizations to be discussed as well. As the title may have hinted at, I am currently fixated on change. Not the pocket kind. The kind everyone back home is undergoing and the kind that I am beginning to recognize in myself more and more each day.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, "Whoa, Josh! I didn't click that link to hear you blabber on about the things you miss or you think are changing. Get to the good stuff!" Rest assured I will share my thoughts on my weekend excursion with you. In fact here's a picture from the weekend to help keep your appetite for travel stories at bay. An appetizer, if you will.

The historical medersa of Marrakech.

Now I know that an artistic angle of an ornately decorated doorway is hardly enough to satiate your hunger for travel and adventure. Don't worry, I'll try to keep the emotional blabber down to a minimum. That being said, I believe that I have some extremely interesting insights and you should take the time to profit from this rare peak into my wealth of wisdom.

I think the best way to begin is by sharing a story from my previous exchange in France. During the second half of the year I was away my parents informed me that they had made the decision to refurnish the living room of my childhood house. This was a small, necessary thing to do for the family's living room. In fact, it was long overdue. It should have been something insignificant and trivial that I took into account and moved past. That wasn't the case.

I freaked out a little bit. First when my parents told me they were doing it, and then again when I finally got home later that year. I made a rather large deal, saying things like: "This isn't my home anymore!" and "How can I be comfortable when it feels like I'm in someone else's house." I meant it at the time, even though now I've grown to appreciate the changes they made and the warmth they bring to the space. But I've thought about that living room a lot, and I realize now that my anxiety and misguided frustration were not due to the fact that things had changed. Change is constant and should be expected, only willfully ignorant people will tell you otherwise. No, it was due to the fact that those things had changed in my absence. Nothing is more difficult to bear, in my opinion, than the realization that Earth keeps turning regardless of where you're standing on it.

I believe Ponyboy quoting Robert Frost said it best:

Of course, this clip is more melodramatic than the point I am trying to convey. But it's in the same vein and I thought it helped illustrate the idea to some extent. Especially the part where he admits that he doesn't quite understand it.

That's what I've been meditating on these past few days. Anything can spark this type of introspection. It could be me realizing that I've adapted to certain aspects of Moroccan culture (i.e. being berated by every Moroccan greeting simultaneously), hearing that my Uncle is engaged (congratulations Dan and Judy), or calling my significant otter and learning that she got her nose pierced on a whim (I know I'm overreacting I just need to get it all out right now, kocham cie bardzo). All of these instances poke and prod my psyche and remind me that change is happening despite all my best efforts. I recognize the necessity of change, despite my propensity to wish that it wouldn't happen, and I know that I will grow and mature because of it. But sometimes all you want is to sit around with someone you love and watch awful movies all day.

All this to say that I have reached a very scary point in my time abroad. The part where change becomes distinguishable and (to a certain degree) tangible. That essential, but unbearable increment of time where I am not fully adapted to life here, but I realize that if I were to go back home I would be greeted with similar circumstances.

Just a quick side note, this update is not meant to be depressing or overly sentimental about the comfort and habits I left back in the states. So I should mention that there are, in fact, many things here that I have experienced and learned that I could never hope to appreciate or experience elsewhere.

Anyway, wow! I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to get to a point where I can finally talk to you about my weekend trip. If you have read up to this point, I commend you. I don't think I would have. As a reward here's another picture from my trip.

This man is carving with his feet.

So this weekend, as I said, I traveled to Marrakech, Ourika, and Essaouira in that order. It was a whirlwind of a weekend and I had an "amazigh" time (excuse the pun). The cities were amazing, each in their own distinct way. So although our trip went against ever notion of cultural acclimation that I have in my body (we stayed in hotels catering towards Europeans, and our activities were primarily touristic), I had a wonderful experience and I made some wonderful memories. Not to mention all the fantastic pictures I took.

The shoe stores of Marrakech can be overwhelming

Those odd looking things are called "palm trees"

The logistics of the trip are as follows: we left for Marrakech early Friday morning and stayed there for two nights (Friday and Saturday). Sunday morning we took a short day trip to a beautiful restaurant hotel in the town of Ourika which is nestled in the Atlas mountains just outside of Marrakech. From there we traveled to the quaint port city of Essaouira.

The port city of Essaouira

Overlooking some of the artisans' shops.

So there you have it, you are now fully caught up on me and my comings and goings. If you're interested in seeing more photos, as always you can find them here. There was a lot to see and do, so there are plenty more pictures.

Additionally, if you remember my previous blog about my frustration with the language situation here in Morocco and are interested in learning more, I would like to direct you to a post on my fellow compatriot's blog. She goes to Stanford, so don't be surprised if there is a considerable difference in the level of vocabulary used (my thesaurus can only do so much for my writing). But seriously, Cyana has some keen insights and expresses them quite well, I strongly encourage you to read her blog.

In any case, I have come to the end of my update and I would just like to share another video with you as a nice way of rounding out the whole discussion on change:

So until next time, thanks for reading, and please don't forget to stay gold until I'm back.

{ }