The joy of living: joie de vivre. I have it; I know that. I feel it strongly often, but especially when I travel. In my life I often feel different from those around me. Not in a bad way. But I’m a democrat in a sea of republicans, single amongst doubles, no children around those with children, a traveler amongst non-travelers, etc. But when I travel I feel a part of everything and everyone. I feel like I blend in with those around me – – even though I probably really don’t! I always look different from those I’m traveling among and I’m carrying a camera, for goodness’ sake, so how can I really blend in? But the point is, I feel like I blend in to my surroundings when I travel. Traveling makes me more joyful!

My favorite day happened to be the last day we were all in the van together. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy other days prior. And I most certainly enjoyed the days after this day, but there was something about this place in the valley that I particularly found beautiful. I have already written a bit about it but now I write more – – and add pictures. The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. And I knew it was the last day in the country before going to Marrakech. This time with the group, as I knew it, would end.

We drove through such beautiful scenery and stopped for coffee in a beautiful setting. We also stopped again at what was my favorite place for tajine. Everyone else was tired of tajine so I joined Ahmed and Mokhtar for some and was able to eat up with all the rest of the men, including many guides that Mokhtar knew. “He’s from my village,” Mokhtar always told me. I know he’s from M’Hamid, a small village of about 3,000 people. We ran in to about 6 people from his village in Marrakech and the surrounding area, a pretty high ratio, I’d say.

Everything changed as we approached Marrakech. No more countryside and villages. Now lots of people, activity and commotion. We arrived at our riad and settled in. I stayed with Catharine in a twin room. All of us were on the second floor except Carolyn who stayed down near the kitchen on the first floor. I spent the first evening with Mokhtar at his apartment where he made spaghetti for dinner and we used his WiFi to catch up on computer stuff. It was fun to see a different part of Marrakech and to experience a bit of normal life. I slept like a baby in our riad that night and was happy to be settled in to one place for the next many days for the first time on the trip!