Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Thinking, thinking (7429)

Maria, Geoffrey and Curtis
My old chum, Stephen O'Connor would, when he was particularly perplexed by some attitude or behaviour of mine, ask 'What's it like being you, Simon?'

Well, the above named young people (forgive me, you three, if I've got your names wrong or misspelled them), found out a little more of this than you'd bargain for when we met up a mountain above Chefchaouen yesterday. Truth is I got a little emotional.

From where we met
For the record, they're great people, the kind you'd hope to meet by accident on a hillside in Morocco when you're a bit lost. M&J are an item and work 'from home' while travelling. If you see what I mean. They (Spanish and American, respectively) live in Malaga. Curtis (American) lives in California and works with start up companies in California.

We discussed work/life balance, how much money is enough, what travelling is for, depression and motorcycling. Meeting them made my walk in the hills (Angelika was chillin') special. They were open-minded, interested, interesting and I wish them well.

What's a blog for?
Curtis has done 'long travelling' and completely got my wonderings about what the point of it is. The four of us also mused on what a blog is for and what it properly should aim to do.

In life generally, we present our idealised selves. No one really wants an honest answer to an enquiry as to our well-being. Perhaps no one really wants to read a long-distance motorcycling blog that admits that a lengthy ride in heat leaves you tired, wrung-out, irritable and totally out of sympathy with hoteliers, travelling partners and the world in general.

But, then, whence honesty, realism, the ring of truth? Perhaps there's a balance. Let's see if we can find it.

Acting on their advice, I found an interesting way down the hill.

To the village!
What's a trip for?
Perhaps you know I've been wondering. Of course, the question is the same whether you ask it of a long trip (or short one, actually) or of life in general. And, I suppose, that's part of what makes the journey interesting.

In my pre-trip life in education I was asked by a group of students what the meaning of life is. 'Life has no meaning but what you choose to give it' I heard myself say, sagely. By that token it's for me to decide what meaning the trip has. Hmm. There's both a power and a responsibility there. But I can stop looking elsewhere for an answer.

I'll let you know.

Chefchaouen miscellany
This place has a reputation for hedonism. The partying (I think mostly hashish-fuelled although alcohol is freely, if illegally, available) seems to go on all night. The last couple of nights has seen groups of young Arabic folk driving up and down outside our hotel in the very early hours, beeping horns and generally making a racket.

After the partying youngsters, the imams begin their religious chanting at 5.30am.

But I really like it here. I'm more relaxed than at any time since we set off. And the noises off don't bother me at all.

The blue streets that the town is famous for have no roots in tradition. It's the result of recent tourism branding.

I saw a convoy of big powerful motorbikes leave the town as we arrived. They struck me as arrogant, their presence a statement of power. I hoped before we left we would not give this impression on our travels. I deliberately avoided some of the bike accessories that make the machine look military. Of course my reading of them might have been projection.

Angelika and I are getting better at claiming time alone. It's for the best.

I've stopped reading the news for the time being. I'm happier for it. Maybe it's a cop-out. If it is, it is.

I'm looking forward to moving on. We've booked a hostel in Fes for two day's time.

Mustapha's insights
Our guide explains
Our hotelier found us a guide. His name is Mustapha and he gave us a fascinating two hours. He told us why there is Viking blood in Morocco (the Berbers fought these invaders off the country's northern coast); that Chefchaouen was originally built as a garrison; that Jews and Arabs have coexisted peacefully here for centuries; that the town wasn't always blue (but that the new colour is easier on the eye than the original white in the early morning sunshine).

I was reminded as we walked that many times on this trip I have had deep-lying patronising attitudes corrected by talking to others who know things I don't know, have perspectives I can't ever have and who understand the world I come from better than I do theirs.

Perhaps that's the meaning of the trip.


  1. Spent 20 mins catching up with you two, reflected on what you have said and seen and felt all the better for it. The blog makes my missing you two less painful. xx


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