Marrakech Broke Me

It was bound to happen eventually. After 10+ months of international travel, despite the many *insert all of the positive adjectives* experiences I've had, the challenges that come along with the one-suitcase country-hopping lifestyle caught up with me.

I started to feel the mental fraying at the end of October, in Croatia. Activities and sights that I normally would have gotten excited about (murder mystery party! ferrying to a tiny gorgeous island with my gfs! a storm flooding the whole Split coastline!) elicited little to no reaction from me. The most simple tasks seemed monumental and left me exhausted.

I attributed my apathy and fatigue to my lack of connection with Croatia where the cold, windy offseason was starting - I must be ready for a change of scenery / locale, right? So I channeled what energy I had into looking forward to the upcoming month in Morocco. I tried to pump myself up knowing going to Morocco meant I would get to try some fun new foods (what is tagine, I wondered), ride some camels (how can I write a non-cliché #humpday caption, I wondered) and be exposed to a new culture (how difficult is it to be a woman there, I wondered).

can I reference #humpday if we rode camels on a Friday? Mike Mike Mike

And then we moved to Marrakech, and I completely fell apart. Instead of getting the usual spark of adrenaline that each new city usually gives me, and using that adrenaline spark to learn about and get settled into our eleventh home of the year, I got whatever the opposite of a spark is.

Week 1 in Morocco featured me feeling beyond uncomfortable walking anywhere alone day or night (turns out it is quite difficult to be a woman there), freezing in my apartment which had no insulation and no heat, and getting violently ill on my birthday because I forgot I was supposed to avoid eating raw vegetables (dumb on my part, but I also don't think I could go a month with no vegetables).

Like all of the cities we have lived in this year (and anything, ever) there were challenges and upsides - a lot of people in the group loved Marrakech. The Medina features endless stalls of crafts, rugs, spices, teas, soaps, foods, and more that you could get lost in for days. The city is filled with traditional Moroccan homes called "riads" which encircle beautiful and elaborate garden courtyards (usually with a pool) and these riads are now available as a bed/breakfast option for tourists to stay or dine at. The desert is nearby for camel riding, trekking, stargazing or whatever else you want to do there.

Playing with snakes in the Medina ~ Riad life ~ Cameling in the desert

But I couldn't shake the challenges and focus on the upsides, like I was eventually able to do in Córdoba. My travel adversity stamina ran out. I couldn't deal with being shamelessly leered at by men as if I'm a piece of meat any time I walked down the street, just because I'm a woman. I couldn't deal with only feeling safe from that sort of treatment while I was "home" in my apartment, which was too cold to ever feel like a comfortable home. I couldn't deal with worrying about getting sick every time I ate a meal or accidentally swallowed water in the shower.

Within that first struggle-filled week my fight-or-flight response kicked in and I chose flight (an easy choice given how much I love flying, hehe). Instead of trying to overcome all of the above negatives of Marrakech life, I plotted an elaborate travel schedule that meant I only spent two weeks of the month in Morocco.

As I'm sharing this, I find it important to note that I am in no way seeking pity or trying to complain about the challenges I've faced in the last month or so. Rather, I'm trying to keep it real as I can, and tell the side of the story that the Instagram stories don't capture... especially since my Morocco IG still made it look like I was having a blast (like I said, there were upsides, but the hardships prevailed!).

The most spectacular setting! not pictured: my head in the toilet all morning

Now the home stretch is upon me, the final month in Cape Town. I'm still feeling the mental and physical toll of a year of travel, and I suspect it will take some serious home time and mom pampering (prepare accordingly Nancy!!) to fully recover. But Cape Town has welcomed me with beautiful sunny beaches, smiling friendly locals, stunning mountainscapes, and exotic animals, and I'm so grateful to get to experience it as I close out my Remote Year.

Ok I see you Cape Town

I can't even believe I'm writing this, let alone living it. One-year-ago me was trying to wrap my head around what it would be like to live in ten different countries on three separate continents throughout the course of one year. Current me is still trying to process what it has been like enough to be able to articulate it beyond these monthly city recaps. My next post will be from post-Remote Year me... eeek... see ya on the other side!


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