“I lust for adventure.”
These four words invaded my mind as I gazed at the Instagram pics, as I watched the YouTube recaps, and most recently (in 2016), as I read Darnell’s Blackpacking post. The feelings that engulfed me were a potpourri of thrilling and terrifying. My wanderlust peaked at imaginable levels, but I knew this particular feeling was different. I didn’t just want to cross seas; I’d done that before. I yearned for spontaneity, titillation, fireworks: I wanted to live instead of exist.
And this past year, it wasn’t just a want, it was a requirement. Just like my passport.
After many months of “one day” escaping my thoughts and lips, I decided on the February trip, celebrating Darnell’s birthday. A huge part of the adventure I sought was wrapped up in this special person I call I dear friend. He doesn’t just take you on adventures, he IS adventure. This was it! Perfection. BAM, booked.
And in true Passport Required-esque fashion, I had no idea where I was going until about a week before my flight departed. Once that day came, I squealed and saw two pictures encapsulating my dreams: Barcelona and Marrakesh.
These are my confessions: Because this trip meant so much to me spiritually and emotionally, it took me a while to actually sit down and congregate the text to describe something that has changed my life. How do you simplify and diminish that with words? Maybe I’ll just accumulate a lot of words, scattered about, just like my thoughts and feelings. Nevertheless, it needs to be documented. Come along and (re)ride on this fantastic voyage…
Architecture, crafted in a way that stole my breath upon having the honor of being thrusted in its presence. Bunking at my very first hostel; and not dying. Living the good life, in fact. The bustling energy of the streets, filled with people so affectionate and passionate, you can feel its burn on your skin. Goosebumps. Tiny plates of food called tapas and the desire to try every single sample. Running and singing in the rain, the soles of our feet hardening on cobblestone streets. Hiking up hills that rival San-Francisco-steepness to meet Park Güell because the view is surely worth it.
Dipping my toes into the Mediterranean sea as I meditated with strangers and gazed at the man practicing fighting moves in the sunlight: Was it Karate or Kung Fu? Maybe Krav Maga; I wish Siri could’ve told me via video. Taking a long walk to witness the majesticness of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, a work of art over a 100 years in the making and yet unfinished. Scampering about Parque del Laberinto de Horta and experiencing the joy of getting lost within its interlacing roots. Climbing to face the Three Crosses. Milly-rocking under the Arc de Triomf. You read that right. Read it again.
Blackness. And yes, we found phở. Chatting with locals and learning the difference between Catalans and Spaniards. Passing by and pausing to watch a boisterous game of fútbol. Celebrating born days with the most tenders of steaks and Argentinian wine. Licking the delectable dust off of four or five fartons every morning, warm and fresh from the bakery.
The feeling of stepping onto the motherland’s grounds for the first time, engulfing me, tightly. The beautifully haunting sounds of the snake charmer’s pungi invading my ears as we approached the market in Jamaa Lefna. Haggling the taxi drivers and making it rain dirham. The rumbling energy of businesses halting to a piercing silence during times of prayer: Fajr, Sunrise, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha, and Qiyam. The aggressive culture of solicitation as the stench of America wafted from our pores.
Getting lost within the souks of Medina and being guided away from a “forbidden place” that never was. Satisfying my palate with couscous and meat, while washing it down with the finest orange juice I had ever ingested. No really, allow me to take a moment to honor these orange trees. How can juice with only one ingredient give me nectar-of-the-gods realness! Maybe it’s because it had only one true ingredient. Regardless, I am forever changed. The colors; oh my God, the colors. Lollygagging in Jardin Marjorelle and soaking in colors beyond the rainbow’s spectrum. Colors probably only seen in the ∞-count Crayola box.
Sopping up the most seasoned and spiced meat, cheese, and eggs of my life with khobz. Ingesting art and texture at museums. Congregating with our temporary hostel family and playing music, sharing stories, and singing the melodies of our shared and separate lives, simultaneously. Allowing the holiness that is Moroccan mint tea course through my digestive passages like a delicious warm river, and sucking the life out of snails via impromptu snack shenanigans.
And much much much much more.
I’m still musing over it all and realizing… wow. I really did it. I fit adventure into a backpack. And would do it again. And again.