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The Leaving Journal

Coping with the Unpredictable

MOROCCO | Wednesday, 15 January 2014 | Views [356]

Gray clouds hovered ominously overhead, fat with potential rain and threatening to split open at any moment. My 40 pound pack was cutting into my shoulders as I trudged down the Marrakech sidewalk, dodging persistent touts and speeding cyclists.

"Did you check the weather?" my father calls from behind me.


We're walking to the bus stop from the grand taxi stand after dropping our jaws at the exorbitant rates for a ride to Imlil, a small mountain town south of Marrakech and the starting point for trekkers wanting to explore the Toubkal Massif. Imlil is only 45 minutes from Marrakech, and no, I had not checked the weather. The threatening skies under which we currently walked were certain to be present at a higher altitude - and perhaps more than just threatening. But I refused to be deterred.

"Nah, it'll be fine."

It wasn't.

After an unsuccessful pursuit of the local bus, we returned to the taxi stand and paid the exorbitant rate, arriving to sleepy Imlil around 3pm to a light drizzle. We immediately encountered a salty Australian mountaineer who had just come off the Toubkal summit the day prior. Alan informed us we were heading straight into a blizzard for which we were not even slightly prepared. So, we did what any self-respecting amateur hiker would do: spent thirty minutes in Imlil, drank a cup of tea and shared a taxi back to Marrakech with Alan.
Alan was extremely entertaining and dulled the sting of our fouled up plans. He regaled us with stories of baboons in Ethiopia and small world encounters in Hawaii as we bounced down the pot-holed mountain road back to the bustling city. We parted ways with our new Aussie friend in Jemaa El Fna, feeling a bit confused at how rapidly we'd found ourselves back at square one, but not discouraged.

We adapted our plans to head west towards the Jebel Saghro region of Morocco, called "wild and inhospitable" by our guidebook. The following day, we barely caught the 10:30am bus to Ouarzazate, excited to find a guide and explore the rural mountain towns and valleys, sleeping in huts with locals and generally roughing it.

Two days later, we were on the same bus, headed back to Marrakech. No rural mountain towns, no huts, no roughing it.

Travel is nothing if not unpredictable. A large part of what separates tourists from travelers - a distinction I am particularly cognizant of - is the ability to cope with change. Much of this ability lies in attitude. A good attitude is the key to coping with change. The first week of his trip, my dad and I did a lot of coping, and I'm proud to say we did it all with a smile and a laugh.

Tags: coping, mishaps, travel



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