Monday, July 8, 2013

Climbing Mountains

Justin and I returned this week from our final round of travels in Morocco, passing through Agadir, Essaouira, Oualidia, Casablanca, and the (literal) culmination, climbing up Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa! 

I had a lot of time to think while slowly making my way up to 13,671 feet. And I spent a lot of that time reflecting on my experience in the Peace Corps and living in Morocco more generally. I started seeing parallels between my mountain climb and my two year experience living abroad.

Justin and I smiling the night before our big climb.

Be patient and deliberate

Climbing up the steepest summit to the peak of the mountain was one of the hardest physical experiences of my life. The summit was filled with tiny pebbles and very few places to get a firm foothold. I found success in patience - surveying my surroundings slowly and patiently, planning my next step very deliberately, then doing the same for each new step. And the same with my experiences living in Morocco. Sometimes projects, goals, even day-to-day duties can move at a much slower pace than I may have wanted, but I have learned to be patient and deliberate, and in time I've been able to achieve my goals and experience success.

Lots of rocks, pebbles, and snow - in June!

Be aware of and respectful of surroundings

I guess this might be an obvious one. Being respectful to nature, to other people, to the culture in which I'm living - it all goes together.

And what beautiful surroundings they are!

Keep one eye on the ground and one eye towards the sky

The mountain climb was filled with steep twists and turns, sharp rocks, slippery pebbles, and all sorts of other impediments, and I realized after climbing a short time that I hadn't taken my eyes off of the ground! Then I looked up and saw the first rays of the morning sun shining through the mountains:

I realized how incredibly important it is to continue to watch steps and be aware of my path, but at the same time, I can't forget to take in the beautiful world around me! The same goes for my Peace Corps experience. So much time focused on getting the language right, understanding where to go and what to do... but at the same time, I've tried to keep an eye on the bigger picture - why I'm here and what kind of legacy I can leave behind.

Celebrate all victories, small and large

It was a long, long climb. At times I got frustrated, nervous, scared, and overwhelmed at the obstacles ahead of me. Not sure whether I am talking about the mountain or about my Peace Corps experience right now :) But whether it was as small as celebrating making it to the next tree or learning a new vocabulary word, I found that in a long journey, making sure to celebrate the small things is just as important.

A quick photo break on the way up.
Celebrating at the top - we did it!

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