Earlier this month I decided to take a break from teaching. I felt that students’ demands and my obligations as a teacher were not giving me enough time to focus on my writing career. It was a tough decision, mainly due to financial reasons. Finding markets to write for is easy enough, but penetrating them is the hardest task for any writer.
I wrote a few articles and applied for some online writing gigs. And then I waited, and waited a bit more, until the day arrived for me to pack my trekking gear and head to Morocco. Overwhelmed with anxiety and anticipation, I swallowed my travel pill and hoped, for the umpteenth time, that I had done the right thing. This was the first time that I was travelling outside of Europe, away from the metropolitan cities that I had grown accustomed to.
My trip to Morocco has been an eye-opener on many levels. I was pulled out of my comfort zone and thrown into a completely different culture. But for the first time in months, I felt awake. I was acutely aware of anything going on around me; the bustle of reckless driving, the stench of sewage merged with the poignant aroma of spices, the cries of old beggars, and the silent suffering of overloaded mules. Strangely enough, I found beauty in desolate huts, grimy cafes, arid landscapes and the rural shanty towns.
My trekking experience in Morocco has boosted my spiritual growth. The highlight of the trip was my attempt to climb Mount Toubkal. That day arrived, and with it came one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I hadn’t imagined that traversing the highest mountain in North Africa was going to require so much physical strength and endurance. The high altitude sickness, the strong wind gusts and the biting cold pulled me down. The path was never-ending. I contemplated turning back, but even the way back down seemed disheartening. It was too cold to stop for a rest. My only option was to carry on, semi-conscious, towards the summit.
The day I stood on top of North Africa was the day that I realised my true potential. For years I had underestimated my willpower, put a limit to every single thing I did and never dared to venture beyond those boundaries. But the mountain spoke to me. She watched me scramble up the rocky slopes and getting battered by the dusty winds. Her words were stern and they lacked empathy, but she is after all an ancient mother endowed with unmatched wisdom.
“Keep going,” she said, “You’ll have an amazing story to tell.”