Spring Break Part 1!

Hey parents… sorry I haven’t been completely honest about my whereabouts for this past week. So here was the thing: I am not the greatest at trying to figure out where the future lies ahead for me (changing my major in the middle of sophomore year didn’t help, and then even with a fixed combination my mind is still floating around quite a bit), and this is definitely something that the parents did not greatly enjoy. When I threw the idea of going to Morocco to the parents, they did some research online and found this article about why girls shouldn’t really travel to Morocco. One reason after the other, this turned into a fight for 10 minutes with two very strong headed person who are both unwilling to be convinced by one another, with me crying and being accused of inconsiderate of their feelings of being worried about me (which definitely makes sense and I could relate to, but I also promised to keep in touch and all that, and plus I’m not travelling alone so I don’t see the point why my dad got so mad). But anyways, enough about this nonsense about why I did not tell them about this; important thing is that even I’m still young, dumb and broke, I’m alive and well.

But anyways… this spring break has been an absolute blast. Mohan’s visit continues as we move our ways to Galway on Thursday, going around the wild Atlantic way. Friday, we visited the Burren, and of course.. Cliffs of Moher (as how everyone just kinda needs to). The Burren is a National Park that captures the karst landscape incorporating pavements of glacier-era limesone, which is quite cool. Currently, because Ireland is making its probably third attempt to transition into Spring (and keeps failing), the colors of the landscape is looking a bit yellow-green-ish, but there are a lot of colors like red and brown as well which makes it more unique than the usual greenness that you would see in advertisement photos. I’m definitely hoping to go back there in the summer perhaps just to see how everything has a different kind of outlook in different seasons. And then there are the Cliffs: it was not till a while ago that I realized that one of my favorite bands from middle school, Westlife, is an Irish boy band, and they shot the music video of what’s perhaps their most famous song “My Love” at Cliffs of Moher. The scene of the Horcrux cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince and the music video of Maroon 5’s song “Runaway” was also shot around the roaring waters around the cliffs.

The Burren landscape with roaming animals
Cliffs of Moher: “Over seas to coast to coast, to find the place I love the most, where the fields are green, to see you once again, my love”. Ireland would be the place to be if you’re trying to find fields of green 🙂

We continued our adventures to Connemara National Park the next day. It was a pretty large park, and what is even more astonishing is that one family, the Kylemores, once owned an estate that contained most of Connemara National Park. Connemara is also one of the regions that speaks Irish (Gaelic) predominately, and at one point there was no English on any of the signs at all, which I thought is really interesting.

A blurred view of Kylemore Abbey
A view of Connemara National Park with the Irish black faced sheep (that my friends playfully call the “Irish piglets”

We also passed by two shooting places of Ed Sheeran’s Music Video Galway Girl during our trip. We first passed by O’Connell’s bar, which is the bar that Ed went into at the beginning of the video. Later, during our last night in Galway we went to O’Connor’s Famous Pub, where Ed shot some darts with Saoirse Ronan and pissed off two dudes. There was also a great trad session going on in there that started at 10.

At O’Connor’s Famous Pub; somehow Mohan and I weren’t able to find any dart boards

Our short Galway trip came into an end a lot sooner that I thought, and then it was soon the bittersweet goodbye at the airport till I see her again  in the summer/fall. It was definitely great to catch up with her though, and it was so much fun to see parts of Ireland!

We headed to the airport in the morning, where Mohan has to catch her early flight to Boston and with me catching my flight to Marrakesh and embarking my next journey with Weiheng, Yeng, Annie and Mark to Morocco for five days. This whole trip was really packed because we were trying to do a lot in a short amount of time, and we ended up spending a lot of time on the road. After two meals of McDonalds and several naps, we settled in our hotels at 12AM in the morning. Each of the cities in Morocco has their own specific color, but then a couple that stood out are Casablanca (white), Chefchaouene (blue) and Marrakesh (red).

Waking up to Marrakesh
Marrakesh Menara airport

The next morning, we hoped on a car into the Sahara desert and then Fes. We first drove throught the high atlas region in Morocco. Our driver, Said, were saying that those roads are like the snakes because of how the geographics of Morocco with mountains made it so we need to take a lot of twist and turns before we could get to where we are looking for. The landscape was honestly so different than anything else (the color palette that nature used!) that I’ve ever seen before and the weather was so beautiful.

Altitude 1460m; approximately 4790 feet
Mountain ridges in high atlas region
Blurry Sunset
Traditional Tajine dish with lamb meatballs and an egg; usually it would come with a pointy top lid as well.

We spent our first night in the Sahara desert, where we had what is probably a variation of couscous (couscous has a base of crushed wheat while the dish that we had with had a chicken base) with a veggie stew of zuccini, carrots and eggplants on top, and we had some really amazing bread with tangerines. After that, we heard some Moroccan traditional percussion music and went to see the stars on a sand dune! We also went out of the desert the next morning riding on camels. It was quite the experience; it would be a smooth ride if you have learned to balance yourself in the right way, but would hurt your butt if not (you could definitely see where that is coming from).

I rode a camel called Michael Jackson. At the end, I decided never to ride camels again both because I almost fell when Michael Jackson was dropping me onto the ground and because I thought this was so cruel to all the Michael Jacksons out there…

Traditional drumming in the Sahara desert; the tourist made a circle, and I met a woman from Spain and her daughter; tried to practice some Spanish but I was simply too bad at it
Annie, Karen, Weiheng, Yeng and Mark; this is definitely a personality shot
Learning about photography as we go – I was never aware that my phone is capable of taking a picture like this; all it took was 80 seconds of a still exposure shot and sticking my phone into the sand
When the long exposure didn’t work so well but is still cool before the sunrise (and you could see Yeng’s ghost)
A successful selfie attempt
The leading man and a headshot of Michael Jackson

We were joking how we never left the Sahara desert because we still have sand in our shoes…. I also think that I am going to cut my Spring break adventures here because this blog is already getting way too long. But till next time 🙂

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