The decision to climb Elbrus (5642 m), the highest peak of Europe and one of the Seven Summits, crawled in pretty unexpected. Still recovering from some health issues from the previous year, I needed a goal larger than life to keep me motivated to quickly get back to my top fitness. Little did I know that this adventure would bring me so much more.
I once saw a high school teacher lead a simple, powerful exercise to teach his class about privilege and social mobility. He started by giving each student a scrap piece of paper and asked them to crumple it up.
Then he moved the recycling bin to the front of the room.
He said, “The game is simple — you all represent the country’s population. And everyone in the country has a chance to become wealthy and move into the upper class.” Continue reading “Jump!”
We didn’t have much time to rest after our ascent to Jbel Toubkal at 4167m. Next stop on our journey was Aït Ben Haddou. This lovely ksar, meaning castle in North African Maghrebi Arabic, was built along the former caravan route between the Western Sahara and Marrakech. Inside the defensive walls, which are reinforced by angle towers, houses crowd together – some modest, others, called kasbahs in Arabic, resemble small urban castles with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick.
When I told my mother I was going to spend fifteen days on the road, ten of which on a big and dangerous motorcycle, she nearly had a heart attack. The brilliant plan to go to Morocco by motorcycle and climb the highest peak of the Atlas mountains was made in a blink of an eye. The itinerary for the trip was to go from Zurich to Granada by car, with the motorcycle on a trailer, catch a ferry to Tanger, and then the plan was basically for the road to be our guide.
It was official! My freshly issued passport got its first tatoo! It was truly a time of firsts: first time ever on a plane, first time out of my tucked family nest, first time to live abroad and take care of myself and definitely a first jump out of my comfort zone. I was going to spend four months in the United States on a Work & Travel program. My four girlfriends and I got a summer job in a well-known fast-food chain in Toms River, NJ. Needless to say that my grandmother was horrified when she learned that I was going to flip burgers in the middle of a highway. My parents were much more supportive since my mother had a similar Work & Travel experience in London, UK back in the seventies, and she was aware of the many good sides of such travels.
I believe the best way to get to know a country and its culture is by spending some time living there. I have been blessed to have lived and worked in five countries on two continents. My first such experience was in 2009 on a Work & Travel program in the United States. After working for three months, I have spent all my hard-earned dollars to travel throughout the States for more than a month.