Gibraltar and Morocco:
When I first arrived in southern Spain, Malaga, I was already a little bit homesick. I really didn't know what to do with myself since I hadn't even planned on being there in the first place (muddled my flights pretty good). With no real destination in mind I decided why not tap into Africa, even if it is only the tiniest bit, and off to Morocco I went. To get to Morocco I had to take a ferry across the strait of Gibraltar where the legendary pillar of Hercules lies. I'd heard about this place since I was a kid and was so excited to get there I pretty much ran to the top to get my first glimpse of Africa. To me this was exciting, really exciting, an untouched continent that I had not touched yet. To me this was a new world, a gate to a whole 'nother slew of adventures that my future holds for me.
Skip forward through Tangier, Chefchaouen (the blue city), and into Fes where I stay with Bilal and enjoy a night of a cozy Moroccan party. What I was excited most about was that there was alcohol involved. Morocco is a Muslim country so alcohol is looked down upon and has been described to me as the 'most forbidden'. This just means that everyone smokes as much hash as they want (which is different than the weed smoking community in America). When I got there Bilal took out a bag to show me and ask 'Do you know what this is? This is kief!' and the way he said it made me feel like they don't get kief too often. I laughed and just told him yes, I know what kief is. It was me, Bilal, and two of his friends. We spent the night in candle light listening to music, drinking, smoking, and eating off a communal plate of chicken and rice using bread as the only utensils. Strangely enough do you know the first song they showed me while I was there? Whiskey Lullaby. Probably one of the saddest songs there ever was but somehow they loved it and I couldn't believe out of all the songs out there this was what had made it to Morocco. Even though no one spoke English we finished the night talking philosophy and eating yogurt with a lollipop as a spoon. It was the first time this trip I had been made to feel at home and by far the best part of Morocco.
Forget about Rabat, the capital, and Christmas spent in Casa Blanca, but look at this one small restaurant in a town I don't remember the name of. Moroccan food is amazing and I had been trying all the tagines I could. I got to this place and even though it was in Arabic I could recognize that they had a tagine I hadn't tried before and of course I ordered it. The waiter gave me a weird look, confirmed what I was pointing at, and the shrugged and walked off. I didn't think anything of it. Until out came, unmistakably, an entire brain. It isn't the first time that I accidentally ordered something weird and it won't be the last I am sure. All I have to say is that it was delicious.
Berlin (don't worry about Barcelona or Rome):
While I was in Morocco I got a little sick of traveling alone. Besides Bilal, which was amazing, I didn't really meet anyone else of interest. It just wasn't really the time for most people to be traveling around Morocco. Some way or another Justin and I got in contact. I met Justin my first year fishing in Alaska and had not seen him since then either. We had kept in touch though and it turns out he had been living in Berlin. Bored with m lack luster Christmas spent in Morocco I decided to go spend one of my favorite holidays in Berlin with Justin. It was a fantastic time. It was amazing to get to catch up with Justin again after so long and to hear about all the adventures he had been on. It was nice to just sit around and drink beer with a mate and try to get into the crazy Berlin clubs together too. New Years was great, low key, but great. Though nothing crazy out of the ordinary happened here I feel obligated to mention how nice it was to find someone to hang out with for a week while on the continent. Not only that, but I convinced him to come meet me, Stumbles, Mr. Miller, and the crew over in Iceland in a couple weeks too!
Again, nothing crazy happened while in Portugal. Just the normal things, except that I got to meet Amber here! It was such a wonderful coincidence that me and my captain, Amber, would be in Lisbon at the same time. After years and years of threatening to meet each other abroad we finally managed to make the meet up exploring castles together and experimenting with some of Portugal's more loose laws. It was amazing to be able to see her so far away and to be able to spend some quality traveling time with her. Amber you're amazing and can't wait to see you this summer!
At least once a year, usually more, I meet up with Stumbles for an adventure. Usually around January so that we can celebrate her birthday and this year she chose Iceland. That's really why I had been loafing around Europe for so long is because I was waiting to meet up with her at the right time. This year was going to be a little different than others as we had quite a bit of people joining us for this adventure. As I previously mention Justin would now be coming along with Mr. Miller (which is becoming a norm) and five other friends of Stumbles'. That's quite a bit of people. I'll describe it to you the same way I pitched the trip to Justin. We rented a big AirBnb with a hot tub as a home base in the country side of Iceland, near Selfoss, and planned to use it as a home base for drinking and hoping that the Northern lights would show. One of those things definitely happened and I can let you guess which.
Let me start by first off saying it is always so good to see Stumbles again, a tried and true adventure buddy. We are actually getting pretty notorious for our debauchery now, ever since that Hell in a Shell night before the bike ride across America, and that first night was a frat party to say the least. When I woke up there were empty booze bottles everywhere, the pictures on the walls were tilted, and the door to one of the rooms wasn't even on its hinges. It was amazing.
Iceland was gorgeous as usual but that trip was more about spending time with friends and being cozy inside a cabin out in Iceland. Of course we went and saw waterfalls, geysers, and hot springs, but the best part was just sitting in the hot tub with cool people drinking and looking out over the beautiful Icelandic landscape.
Unfortunately that is all I can get through right now and I know that none of this is that interesting. The writing is terrible and I am ashamed to be publishing it but to be fair it is more to serve as a memory reminder for me later on in life. I wish I would have written this then instead of now and taken the time to do so, but sometimes I am just not in the mood to write and this winter was one of those times. So soon to come, hopefully, Scotland, Poland (no need for Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia unless very briefly), Russia (Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk (and the trans Siberian train in between those)), Mongolia, and China. Then, finally, after I do a similarly hideous job of writing all that down I will start writing about the current adventure that is the PCT. Sorry to delay everything like this and I hope that I can manage to get it all out ASAP. Quick update, I started the PCT on the 15th of March and am about 80 miles into it. It's amazing.
Hope you're all well and I will try to do better.
Beacon (no PCT trail name yet, but will remain Beacon here)