Reaching Out 2 The World

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Oh the Places You’ll Go & and the People You’ll Meet

Our goal for Friday was to make it up to Rabat to visit a friend of Dan’s. In order to get there we’d have to take the train and we wasted no time getting up and packed so we could begin our journey north.

We were originally looking to buy first class tickets because of how great our first experience was but those tickets ended up being sold out. As we walked down the platform for our second class seats I think we were both thinking the worst. Down in South Africa the second class seats are a hard plastic bench seat and typically very over crowded. This isn’t a problem on short rides but we were under the impression the trip to Rabat would be quite long. When we neared our train car there was a friendly woman standing outside who confirmed we were in the right place and that we should sit near her and her daughters who also spoke English. This sounded like a good idea to us so we decided to join them.

One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people.1395367_10151649906501975_1155543292_n It seems like you can’t go anywhere without running into awesome people who live very interesting lives. Jeannine, Nicole, and Barbara are perfect examples of such remarkable people. For the next several hours we talked with these three about their past, current, and future travels. Nicole has been teaching English in Casablanca for nearly two years and is considering teaching in Dubai once she has her two year requirement completed. Her mother, Jeannine, and friend, Barbara were both in Morocco visiting her. Between them, it’s probably easier to count the countries they haven’t been to, or at least it seemed that way. Barbara is on the verge of some major traveling come the start of the new year and Nicole is always on the go. Hopefully they’ll take our advice and start writing a blog so that we can continue to follow along with their travels. In addition to the ladies was Nicole’s pooch Beso who traveled all the way from California with Barbara to visit his madre. This dog was as cool and collected as I’ve ever seen and apparently has been a star at traveling. During our train ride Beso chilled on the table and IMG_6393let anyone and everyone pet him as they walked by. Kids from throughout the train would sneak away from their parents so they could spend a little time with this awesome pup. So far, second class was even better than first class and our seats were more comfortable as well. Before long the girls and Beso had to get off in Casablanca but it was a real pleasure meeting them, and who knows, maybe we’ll meet again?! Until next time, take care ladies!

With the first part of the ride over we only had about an hour or so till we’d be arriving in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. I used that hour to do a bit of writing but with no place to plug my laptop in I ran out of juice before I could get much done. No worries though, the ride ended up being considerably shorter than we thought it would be and we were in Rabat several hours before we thought.

When we arrived we walked out into the cleanest city we’ve been to while inIMG_6435 Morocco. After finding some Wi-Fi we booked a room for the night and made plans to meet up with Lisa in the evening. Lisa and Dan worked together back in Michigan and she just recently started a volunteer stint in Rabat where she’s living with a host family and working at a women’s center. From what I understand, she’s done a bit of traveling but never anything quite like spending a month in Morocco with a host family. I could tell Dan was looking forward to meeting up and checking in on his friend and I was looking forward to meeting her.

IMG_6433Lisa told us that she’d be with some friends drinking at a bar on a boat and described to Dan, in a facebook message, how we’d find it. It took us a bit of a walk and a short cab ride but we eventually found them. Lisa was joined by Capucine and Mariah, both volunteers who arrived in Morocco the same time Lisa did. The three of them were sitting at the front of this beautiful ship sipping on wine and enjoying the night. After a day of traveling it was great to sit back and meet some new friends.

I guess it’s easier to befriend someone when traveling because you already share something so huge in common with them. The fact that you are both away from home, and experiencing a new culture is generally enough to bring people together. Conversation is always easy because it’s always interesting to hear IMG_6434someone’s story as to how they ended up where they are or maybe where they are headed next.

Lisa has plans to head to Paris after her time in Morocco and is hoping to intern at a French bakery! She’s got a passion for pastries and is chasing after her dream… it doesn’t get much better than that! I’m still looking forward to tasting one of her treats, even if I’ll have to travel halfway around the world to do it!

Capucine is the most traveled of our group and has had the chance to do some pretty incredible things. Capucine’s first language is French so she’s also been a huge help to everyone she’s been with while here in Morocco. She also loves photography and has begun documenting her travels at . I’m definitely planning on keeping up with where she heads off to and I already told her I’d be visiting her again! From what I grasped, she’s a bit of an expert snowboarder in Whistler, Canada and I just recently rediscovered how much I love snowboarding! I think her next destination is Central America where she’s looking to reside for some time. From one extreme to the next Capucine seems to be on the right track! Good luck with everything!

IMG_6403Mariah, my new California friend, may have been the youngest of our group at just 19, but she’s got an impressive resume. She’s been studying Arabic and for her current travels and is fluent in sign language. I think her travels are just getting started but I’m sure they are far from over.

Before our night was over we all walked over to a small fair that was nearby and did a round of bumper cars. What better way to get to know someone than by trying your hardest to crash your car into them? These cars were a bit whacky too because the wire mesh on the ceiling wasn’t completed and there were sparks flying all over. Luckily no one was harmed and we all had a great time.

After our fun-filled evening we made plans to all meet up for lunch the following day. Dan and I would be leaving on an overnight train to Tanger before taking a ferry to Spain but we still had the entire next day ahead of us before any of that.

On Saturday we met the girls in the Medina and they took us back to their homestay to give us a IMG_6429tour. Their home was nice and cozy tucked into the alleyways just off the main street but it seems to suit them nicely. The family they stay with is very accommodating and their home has Wi-Fi. When traveling abroad, those are two very special things that are sometimes hard to come by.

From their homestay we walked the streets of the medina a bit before finding a place for lunch. With the menu being in French, it was extra nice having Capucine there to help make sure we ordered what we wanted. I’ll eat just about anything that’s in front me but there are certain things I’ll generally avoid when ordering at a restaurant. Champignons almost snuck one past me and ended up on my burger but the crisis was averted. Never been a big fan of mushrooms…  For dessert we ate delicious ice cream that was served in flavors a bit new to me. I tried a few different flavors but my main focus was the slice of triple layered chocolate mousse cake I had in front me. Oh how I love chocolate mousse!

IMG_6427Our highly satisfying meal left us all very full and in need of a walk. With it being such a great day out we decided to just pick a direction and begin walking along the beautiful coast line. Along the way we came across people swimming, surfing, boating, fishing, hanging out, playing soccer, and just about anything else you can think of that would be fun in the sun.

Rabat may not be the most popular place IMG_6425in Morocco to visit but so far it was one of my favorite places! For the rest of the day we strolled around the city, and met up with the girls for a few more drinks in the evening. It was so great to meet you all and I’m sure we’ll see each other around!IMG_6424


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Bro, I Totally Caught Some Gnarly Waves Today

Sunday was the first day of the week that we woke up to no rain. Not only was there no rain but it was absolutely beautiful outside. With the great weather came even better plans! Today we’d all be heading to Muizenburg to try surfing. Dan spent a month in Muizenburg last year and learned to surf and he knew that we would all love it. To top it off, Muizenburg is widely recognized as being one of the best surf spots around.

IMG_4034The 7 of us got our things together and went down to the train station around 10:45. We had to catch the 11:10 train to Cape Town and didn’t realize how pressed we were for time until the train started to depart while half our group was still grounded. I step in just as the train started to move and behind me was Mieke and Hanneke. In the second it took Mieke to decide whether or not she’d board many things flashed through her head. Mieke got on just in time but she wasn’t the last to board. Hanneke was still behind her and had to make a great leap to join us. I was quite impressed with their brave moves. Once on Mieke told us how in that split second she thought about if Hanneke hadn’t followed she’d have been stuck at the train station, stuck in Kayamandi, and with no key to get back into her flat. That’s a lot to contemplate when you’re about to board a moving train!

The rest of the ride into Cape Town was fairly ordinary. We played some games to IMG_4031pass the time and the trip took just over an hour. A few of guys played the game Ninja on the train which was pretty funny to watch. Once in Cape Town we had to kill an hour before the next train to Muizenburg would be available. During this hour we shopped around market square, taking the time to teach the girls how to say, “no” to the street vendors. They are very persistent.

Finally arriving in Muizenburg, for the second time that week, we were welcomed in with a blue sky and a bluer ocean. Like I said, this place is THE surf spot and today was the first beautiful day in a week. Everyone came out to play and we were all very anxious to get started.

To rent a wet suit and a surf board for the day it only cost us $8 each. The girls tacked on another $10 for a lesson but for the amazing day of surfing that was to come I would have paid a lot more! Because Dan knew what he was doing he opted to just show Eric and I how it was done.

DSC_4254After a very brief lesson on the sand we made our way into, what everyone else described as, freezing water. I honestly found it refreshing and with the wet suit on had no problems with it. The first wave I went after wasn’t my most successful ride but I did get up on one knee. I was determined to ride a wave all the way in and continued to work and work at it. I can honestly say that I was having the time of my life out there and worked to minimize my vocabulary to just a few words. Gnarly, Bro, Dude, and B-Dubs were a few choice words I used out on in the water. I was a surfer bro and was totally feelin it. Eric, Dan, and I were DSC_4107hungry for waves and went after them nonstop.

Midway through our session Dan got out grabbing his camera. It was probably right around this time that I started to actually get a feel for riding in the waves. Dan, I really really appreciated the effort you put in to your photography!

DSC_4001Not far from us the girls were practicing with their instructor and I happened to ride in a wave close by to them. Feeling confident I told them I’d ride the next one past them and give them a high five. A few minutes later I caught the right wave and was actually able to do it. I don’t know who was more surprised about that. And as it turns out, I freaking love surfing and can’t wait to do it again.

The man in charge of the Surf Shack DSC_4153is Dave. Dan knew Dave from last year and I’m super glad he was able to introduce us to him. Dave not only runs and operates the Surf Shack but he also started his own volunteer organization. It provides volunteers with the chance to work with students, teach them to surf, and help out at the after school program. Not only did this seem like an outstanding idea but his location was ridiculously incredible. Both his store and his newly renovated café / after-school care building had beautiful ocean front views. I really wish I was staying longer so that I could participate more in what he’s doing. If anyone reading this wants to do something amazing, please contact me and I will direct you right to Dave.

DSC_4292After spending all day on the waves we made a late start back to Stellenbosch. To get home we had to first catch a train to Cape Town but the ticket offices were all closed. We decided to board the next train anyways with no ticket with the plan to purchase one at the other end. We’ve done this in the past,DSC_4278 when the stations closed early, but never with 7 people. It turns out that they weren’t even checking tickets in Cape Town and we ended up with a free ride. Unfortunately, we still had a long ways to go to get back to Stellenbosch and there were no more trains headed out that way. Our options were limited with so many people but we ended up just taking two taxis home. I knew the kids were anxious to leave on their trip which starts Monday and I was keen to get back to them.

We arrived back home around 8 and several kids were out playing soccer on our street. We answered any questions they had about the trip and told them we’d see them at 8am the next morning. We were all exhausted from our day and very excited to start this trip with the kids.

The next few blogs will be about our trip with the kids. The trip YOU helped make happen. I can already tell you that you are in for some amazing pictures and great stories. I’m going to do my best to stay up to date but the days are long and I don’t want to cut any blog short. I’ll make it happen though! #ReachingOut2TheWorld