“Sometimes one day at a different place gives you more than ten years of a life at home” – Anatole France
For the past 5 months I have been living and breathing travel. Everyday I wake up excited for the unexpected. Not knowing who I might meet, or where I might end up the next day has me up full of adrenaline most nights. For years I dreamt of what it would be like to wake up and feel this way. To wake up and not be worried about having to submit an assignment, or go to work at the crack of dawn, or paying overdue rent. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one who feels this overwhelming urge to escape and travel; to experience a totally different cultural humanity, and to just lose themselves in an unknown environment. Am I right?
Not only do I thrive off new and exciting travel experiences, I also love the idea of inspiring and encouraging people like minded to travel. To break free of their normal routine and take the next step in discovering a whole new them in a whole new place. So when the small group adventure tour company G Adventures asked me to share some of my personal travel experiences, convincing people to “Make Your Next Step Count” by kicking off their everyday work shoes and fulfilling their travel desires, I was thrilled at the idea. I also thought what better way to share one of most treasured travel experiences in hope to encourage you to get your butt out of routine and into the unexpected.
Recently I have been convoying through Morocco with my partner and three other close friends, and whilst making our way from Marrakesh to the Sahara desert we stopped over for a night and day in the fortified city of Ait Benhaddou – a traditional mud brick city that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A place that almost feels unrealistic. Like it was built for a medieval tv show or movie film set, only to get teared down once filming was up. It seemed almost too cool to be real!
Whilst exploring the kasbahs and passageways inside the defensive walls surrounding, we stopped to have some traditional mint tea overlooking the city and surrounding landscape. The man who served us starting to make friendly conversation, asking us where we were from and where we have travelled. Moroccans are the most friendly people by the way – always interested in getting to know you.
After finding out our friend Lindsey was from New Zealand, he was more than thrilled to share that he had family living in NZ also. He shared with us that his brother had met a NZ traveller and decided to move from Morocco and reside in NZ. He must of really taking a liking to us because the next thing we knew he was inviting us into his home that was underneath his little shop. Once inside I could not believe what I was seeing. Hundreds of colourful and beautifully made hugs that covered his little house from head to toe. Without any intention of trying to sell any of them he starting telling us about how they were all handmade by female members of his family, and the different types of material used to make them and how long they usually take (some up to 30 days). The most intriguing rug was made from cactus seed that was also susceptible to fire. That’s right it doesn’t burn! I was immediately convinced that we needed one – and what better reason to buy a beautiful moroccan rug than one with purposeful meaning behind the make. He told us he would give us an amazing price but for a favour in return. With his hand on his heart he asked with the most trusting look in his eyes for our friend Lindsey to take a rug and some rings with him back to NZ to deliver to his brother and family. He also insisted we all accept gifts from him including hand made cushions and delicate silver rings for my friend Naomi and I. He was one of the most genuine men I have ever met, and his kindness and goodwill brought tears to my eyes.
After accepting his request to take his gifts home to his family he told us all with tears in his eyes how grateful he is for the favour, and that we now hold a special place in his heart. After exchanging many hugs with us he whispered in Lindseys ear “please tell my brother that I am safe.. Our mother is well and safe.. And everything is good here in Morocco”.
We all walked away that day smiling from ear to ear in almost disbelief that someone could put that much trust within us.. Total strangers up until 2 hours ago. The overwhelming gratitude I felt for the experience I just had was intense. Like I said, I was on a total high and was almost waiting for some sort of come down. But all that is left now is a memory that I will be sharing for the rest of my life.
I guarantee taking that next step with G Adventures will alter the course of your life from the ordinary to the extraordinary through travel/cultural experiences that will have you feeling more rich than you’ve ever felt in your life.
The G Adventures ‘Make Your #NextStep Count’ competition has now closed but you still have a chance to take the next step and choose to travel with a purpose. For more information visit http://bit.ly/1N4BGTM