Hot Sands, New Heart

 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain

Stopped along the way at an ancient city.

There is something magical about riding on a train in a third world country. We packed our bags this morning, said goodbye to the friends we made in the hostel, and made our way to the station. We are bound for the north of Morocco after spending 3 weeks exploring Marrakech, Essaouira, and Merzouga. It seems like Spain was a lifetime ago. Now I sit on this train, and ask, how do I begin to sum up all the things we have seen and experienced over the past several weeks? A train ride for the next 8 hours seems like a good opportunity to me. 

España was this spiritually growing experience for me where I learned more about who I am, and who I want to be. Morocco has proven to be different, in good ways.

I am being challenged and inspired in new ways. My heart has been stretched with matters concerning people and the world more than ever before. It all began a couple of days after arriving in Marrakech. The streets are beaming with shops and fruit stands as the local people try to pull you in and sell you everything from leather goods to prohibited substances. We are traveling on a budget, so we say no thank you and keep passing through. Exploring the city for the first time takes you in circles, keeping you positively lost and confused. We wandered into a huge stretch of shops called The Souks. We were deep when we found ourselves in the black market, where I had a life changing alteration.

I have never really known exactly what it is I want to do with my life. Although, I have been very aware of my passions since childhood. What do you want to be when you grow up? My theme was always something to do with wildlife. I adore animals, for as long as I can remember. I have this heart ache for all species. I look at nature and I see a miracle. When I found myself in the black market, a very real place, I broke. Hawks and falcons were stuffed into small cages with wings bent with no where to move. Zebra and leopard skins hung on the walls surrounded by skulls. Turtles and lizards stacked on top of one another. My head was dizzy, I turned the corner, and on the ground in a little cage sat an owl with piercing yellow eyes gazing up at me. I have never had that movie like experience where everything around you slows down, your heart beat in your ears, where time stops…until that moment. I stared into those bright yellow eyes for a couple minutes. Tears began to flow, and I found myself helpless. I am in Africa, I am in a third world country, and this is the reality. My eyes were opened from that day forward. I was no longer in the romanticism of Morocco, but I was in a place that was broken. It’s a broken cycle. People are uneducated and living in poverty, so helpless animals live in poverty, and it goes on and on. I have never felt more helpless than in that moment.

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Something in me broke that day, and I hope it never heals. In this brokenness lies my passion. Through that passion it is my hope that I will be able to make a change or a difference in the dark routine that is occurring everywhere in this world. At home, here, everywhere. I don’t want to just live for myself. I understand that when people see tragedy they get inspired, and then life happens, and you begin to forget. I don’t ever want to forget. I have stepped a little bit closer towards knowing what I want to do. I am beginning to see that I want to help take care of this earth. My ideas are in either Conservation Biology or possibly joining an organization where I can be pro-active. I am not saying that I only care about animals and not the people. There is just so much, and I know I am only one person. I believe my role in this world is to help animals. 

There is always beauty to be found in every place in the world. Besides the heart ache I have had an incredible time exploring this land with Yancy. He is the ultimate travel partner. I am really fortunate to have these experiences with him by my side. 

From swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco to exploring the desert we have had an incredible journey thus far. We rode camels into the Sahara only a couple of days ago. It was intense and amazing. I have never been so uncomfortable. But aren’t the most memorable adventures always that way? We sat in a van with no air condition in 115 degree weather, haha! Along the way we stopped in a town that was built in the 10th century, where Indiana Jones was filmed.  This is a childhood dream coming true for me, since those movies are some of my favorites.

The city where Indiana Jones was filmed

When we finally arrived in the Sahara we were immediately placed on camels. It is definitely not like riding a horse. They are huge! and very cute. We rode into the middle of no where completely surrounded by sand dunes. Right when we hopped off, we climbed up one of the dunes and snowboarded down. When the sun disappeared the heat did not diminish an ounce. We stayed up drinking ‘Berber Whiskey” which is actually just green tea with mint, and we watched the stars. I have never seen stars so illuminated.

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The days are passing quickly and time seems to stand still. We are approaching our departure for Copenhagen in just 10 days. It will be an odd adjustment to say the least. There we will be living for a month while Yancy works as a stage at an incredible restaurant furthering his education and experience as a chef. But that is future and we are here now, currently on our way to Chefchaouen. A town in the Rif Mountains where we will be finishing off our Moroccan adventure. 

In these weeks I have never been so humbled by how blessed I am, and I feel that I can never complain again.

 

Woolgather.

“From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines.” -Walt Whitman

It’s funny how dreams flow in waves in and out of your life at different stages and times. Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with everything you see, want, and dream? and think, is any of this even possible? There is so much that inspires me, so much that I want to do and be. Maybe it will all cluster together into one big ball of awesomeness, and I will look back and say, “Oh yeah, that’s why that was in my heart.” I am a woolgatherer. (I just found out its an actual word and actual thing.)

Woolgather: to engage in fanciful daydreaming. 

Getting a degree has always been this big scary financial blood sucker that wanted to take away my money and my freedom. Oh but I want to learn! I have always wanted to equip myself with knowledge for the future. I want to study creative writing and be a writer, study Conservation Biology and learn how take care of the earth, and be a naturalist and work with animals. I want to own a tea/coffee shop with a tea garden where we make all our own organic teas, while Yancy makes delicious meals in our little family restaurant. I want to own land and farm, be simple and learn how to be self-sustained. I want to build a hobbit hole and live rustically for the rest of my life. I want to be an artist and make art that matters. I want to learn different languages, always traveling the world, and always growing.

The other night Yancy and I watched the movie, The Last Samurai. (Life lessons from hollywood.) One thing that really struck me was what the main character said of the Samurai people: “From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline.” I love that, I want to be like that. Taking whatever I dream, and discipline myself to pursue it. Dreaming is the beginning. It’s good to have vision, but it isn’t just going to appear in front of me. I need to work and dedicate myself.

I have never been able to see myself making a lot of money, living in a fancy house, and driving a car with air condition. I want to have a degree in life, and be rich at heart. Working hard towards the things that I am passionate about. I want to do something that benefits the earth, and people.

In Altea, we have a lot of down time to reflect and think about our next steps. Time here has been a blessing, and it wont last for long. There are a lot of places for us to go, and see. Yancy got a job as a sushi chef in Alicante, the city south of us, so we will be in South Spain at least until July.

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Getting up and going to Spain has re-awakened a lot of dreams for me. I have always related to the Sunflower because of the symbolism it has had in my life since I was a little girl. My room was covered in them. They are a symbol of dreams, freedom, light, and growth. I have never really taken the time to draw a sunflower before because it seemed kind of generic and not so unique to me (which is silly). But I had fun with it, and it is now hanging where I can be reminded to work towards all the things I “woolgather” about. haha!

Close up of the sunflower.

Where the Eagles Roam

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” -Thoreau

golden eagle feaher

North always seems to call my name. Perhaps because I have spent most my life living South in California, or because I always tend to crave lush land, vast green forests, and high mountains. Either way, driving to the North of Spain was nothing short of a dream. We had our smooth days full of beauty, and rough days that tested our patience and forced us to grow.

About five hours into the drive, we passed through country dressed in patches of green fields, red dirt cliffs illuminating against the pale blue sky and far off mountains. We saw an incredible Golden Eagle soar by our car for a good solid minute. It has been a dream of mine to see such a creature, and to see it so close…it only gets better. Shortly after as night approached, we drove off the road to find a spot to rest when THUMP-POP a tire blew. oops. Yancy quickly put on the spare as I set up camp. As the morning came we heard an orchestra of birds, a bob cat 20 feet away from us, and a deer leaping through the forest. Refreshed, we drove into town to find a tire (since our spare would not do) which led to a long, exhausting witch hunt for a very specific silly tire. Stress levels were high, when ALAS! after being lost and trying to communicate we found an old tire for 15 euros. Perfecto!

We drove into a beautiful town, Estella, where we ate hot, delicious traditional Basque meals and shared a jug of cold poured Vino Tinto. We walked around the old town and found a bridge crossing a huge river with broken ruins resting by the water. Finally, we felt free after running around in circles and getting lost in giant cities.

The drive leaving Estella turned into a dream. A real life dream. The winding roads we took to San Sebastián swerved and elegantly ran along green meadows and acres of yellow wildflowers. The road took us into a national park where we ended up along side a shadow filled cliff where the Eagles flew through the air. We climbed an old ruin in heavy mist. It began to rain and we watched a rainbow form across the valley below. OK, I thought, I’m done. I can die now. I don’t know if I can handle any more beauty I might explode! Driving down into the farmlands, we took a dirt path and discovered a little spot to rest. Surrounded by the trees, pastures filled with grazing horses and a little creek, we set up camp. Yancy took out the stove and began to cook dinner by the road, and we bundled up feeling the storm brew in the distance.

By the time we reached San Sebastián we were road weary and amazed by the intricate architecture. We parked the car and wandered about as thunder clouds poured down on us. Completely drenched I was enraptured by the romance. Seriously, walking in the rain through ancient Europe with the man you love…wow. Soaking in the Basque Country we stopped in a tapas bar and had our fill of pinxtos. By the time the afternoon came we were ready for the next place. Yet another incredible drive three hours along the Basque Coast,  we witnessed forests on the sea and rivers meeting the Bay of Biscay. When we arrived in Mundaka, the storm grew stronger and lightning struck all around us. Thunder rolled through the cobble stone streets and echoed in the canyon. Drenched, again, we searched for a hostel.

Living on the road without much is such a good practice to live simply. Something my heart really wants. I have grown accustomed to the comforts of the western world and I hate it. We seriously have everything we need at home. More than enough. This trip taught me that I am beyond blessed. Any hardships I suffered have been nothing in comparison to the sufferings of others in this world.

We ended our trip in Navarra at Urbassa national park. The days were filled with exploring, hiking, resting, and playing cards in the evenings. I never wanted to leave. The sheep, the nature, the clear rivers and everything covered in moss was so incredible to me. The moss covered everything, literally, everything! The rocks, the trees, the buildings, the doors, the windows…sigh.

Making our way back to Altea we decided that now is the time to look for potential work and our next destination for the future. I know now for sure going back to the North of Spain is a must, and hopefully making our way to New Zealand. We shall see. The world is our option, anywhere we want to go. Standing here and looking at our options gives me an unquenched joy I don’t ever want to loose. I have so much to learn, and so much change to go through, I am only  beginning to see it all unfold.

“True Life is lived when tiny changes occur.” -Tolstoy

Lavender Days Full of Sea

 

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” -Khalil Gibran

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I cant help myself, I am continually inspired to write. How could I not be? I am surrounded by constant beauty.

This morning we got up, brewed some coffee on the stove, and ventured out. It has been such a restful time for us here. Long days of sitting out on the balcony and walking around the town. We began to grow restless from too much rest. We jumped on the bikes, and rode to the south end of Altea. We began to hike a mountain that hangs out into the sea, one that we have been eyeing since we got here. Along the hike we spotted a little cove, a small nook on the side of lavender covered cliffs.

We swam in the sea. drank the wild air, and picked lavender. How are we just so blessed?

I came back to the house, full and filled. My salty skin with the sweet smell of coconut oil. I am feeling free, once again. I am loving having my face bare of makeup and not feeling burdened by clothes, appearance, or material objects. My heart feels like it has been ripped open and I am learning new things, new dreams and desires.

Photo on 4-18-14 at 3.16 PM

 

Lately Yancy and I have been talking about our next steps over here in Europe. It has always been a dream of ours to live off the land and learn how to farm. I want to take care of animals (feed the cows, horses, and sheep) and plant and grow a garden. We have a potential opportunity, but we shall see. Praying about where to step next.

There is just too much goodness to write about.

Aceite De Oliva

Since I have been in Spain, I often thought about what I should draw for my first piece of art. Every time an Olive Tree appeared in my mind. Now, it’s not that weird, since I am living in the land of Olives, where there is an abundance of the richest olive oils and the most delicious olives (I eat them everyday.)

As I began to look into these famous trees, the first thing that I noticed was the intricately stunning trunk. All the roots and branches danced in a complicated maze. (I am one of those people that learns a lot from nature, and the true symbolism that it tends to prove.)

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An ancient symbol of peace, the average life span of this being is about 500 years, with the oldest documented olive tree at 2,000 years old and still bearing fruit! If the tree finds itself chopped down to a stump, it will grow again. It stands resilient against disease, drought, and fire. In order to receive the best from the Olive Tree, you must remove the dead wood and break away the branches that prevent the sun light.

I don’t know about you but my mind says metaphor!!!

The complicated detail of the trunk itself relates to the human life. We tend to make everything so complicated! When the simple solution is to love and grow in heart, mind, and soul. Just as the tree is to be at it’s best by removing dead wood and the branches, we must remove all that is dead and holding us back from being in our healthy-best state. It lets the sun in. Right?! When chopped down it grows back (which must hurt, because I believe trees can feel) but to come back after being broken down to nothing…how beautiful.

The Olive Tree continually gives, gives, and gives…providing the world with an abundance of goodness. (The world consumes 2.25 million tons of Olive Oil each year.)

Selfless.

Oh to be selfless, in a selfish world.

 

wanna read more about the wonders of the oil? go here

 

 

 

 

Carry it with us

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,

we must carry it with us or we find it not.” -Emerson

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We walk through bustling streets directly below the sea front building we call home. The mediterranean, unlike any body of water I have ever seen, illuminates green, blue, and turquoise. It has been nearly seven years since I last travelled the world, and I am finding it to be more adventurous for me than ever before, now being a woman. Everything has been a “are you kidding me, is this for real?”

This being my first time to Spain, I am enraptured by the culture, the long-ago feel of my surroundings, and the new experience of everyday.

The hill we gradually walk towards turns into an old town, ancient España located directly above us. A proud, historic church rests in the center. The alley ways and cobble stone streets flow up to the top in a maze of beauty. Each window sill is filled with flowers and the large wooden doors are probably older than America. We feel like 5 year olds with the challenge of learning the language… “Mi Español es débil” my spanish is weak! haha. We get lost easy (finally learning our way about) and we experience waves of emotions that flush through us everyday en España. I am learning to be at peace, and to be where I am. It’s easy to feel ready for the next place! Although, that is what I tend to do… Altea is showing me a simple life, to just be, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Days pass by with cooking dinner with mi Amore almost every night. We shop at farmers markets bustling with people shouting things in other languages. The vegetables, fruit, and flowers are stacked in rows between tall rustic village homes. We ride bikes to and fro, finding hikes and challenging ourselves daily…I have found so much beauty here. Yet, I did not need Spain to find it. Truth is, I could have done all these things more back at home. Yes, being here in a new world is the push towards being more alive and ambitious. There is so much I want to do, and I am feeling weary of sitting and staring at it.  All this beautiful living, we have come accustomed to, we shall now carry it with us wherever we go. The next country, city, or town, I will continue to step out of my little nook of comfort.

I am overcome with the feeling of never wanting to stand stagnant, where ever it is I may stand. Thank you, España, for awakening truth in my heart.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust

 

 

 

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