Sometimes work and adventure overlap, because sometimes work becomes adventure and other times adventure becomes work… We gladly to leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide which is which.
From July to September, we had enough of both, plus plenty of sun and heat. Right at the beginning of the summer, we took an intensive French course to give our French skills a boost. Actually not so much to the knowledge as to the speaking 😉 For three weeks, every evening from five to eight o’clock pm, we were sitting in classe. Klaus had 14 classmates, in Fränzi’s class there were only six. So there was enough time to discuss topics like, discrimination and prejudices, wind energy, or whether there can or should be happiness at work or not. From time to time I had to google the vocabulary first, because in daily life and encounters I rather need the everyday vocabulary about house, nature, market and food….. But it was exciting.
After this course, we went on an adventure weekend that we started planning with a friend back in January and that we were looking forward to. Our goal: to climb the highest mountain in North Africa. The Jebal Toubkal, 14764 ft above sea level. The hike from Imlil village (base camp) was to be 49212 ft to the summit and then back. The difficulty was not the length, which we had spread over three days, but the altitude of all together 7546 ft.
Imlil is situated already at 5581 ft above sea level! On the first day we hiked (rather climbed) to the Refuge les Mouflons (mountain hut intermediate camp) located at 10522 ft above sea level. These 4593 ft of altitude we covered on a path of 38058 ft length. The good thing was, that our luggage (except for a small daypack) was carried up by a mule. And since I had a bit of a cold and a very dry, acrid throat, which made it difficult to breathe in the dry high altitude air, I was allowed to ride along on a mule for the last quarter of this distance. Of course, for a small fee for the animal’s food (the price of which had tripled last year due to the drought)! Finally arrived at the hut we spent a quiet late afternoon and evening with “tea maroccan” and Uno game. For dinner we had a deliciouse tajine. We slept moderately well, because from two o’clock in the morning on, there was always noise because different groups left at different times for the summit storm. Nevertheless, after breakfast we were fit enough to leave.
It should go 14764 ft to the summit up and also down again. And on this route, a little over 2953 ft of altitude should be climbed and then of course descended again. (I hope, I got all the calculation from meters to feet right!) Since my throat was still not better and I had some concerns anyway that my knee would not make the sharp descent, I decided to stay down. Contributing to this decision was the fact that if one of the group „couldn’t take it anymore“, the whole group would have to turn around… It wasn’t worth it to me to risk that. So I watched from below for a while as Klaus and our friend tackled the first steep slope with our guide. And I watched as the sun slowly rose over the mountain they were climbing. I had a nice quiet day „down below“, exploring the immediate area around the hut, enjoying a cup of coffee or two and staying nicely dry when a thunderstorm came in the afternoon.
The small group climbed higher and higher, struggled up and was wonderfully rewarded at the top. They had a great view, which they enjoyed very much. After or before all, God made our world so beautiful!!!
Then on the way down they were accompanied by sleet and rain. There was thunder too, but no lightning. The rain made the already difficult descent even more challenging. But they arrived back down safe and sound, but dead tired. And then it was time for storytelling…. And the more they told, the more grateful I was that I had not gone along. No chance, that I would have made it! God doesn’t make mistakes and gives us the courage to make the right (and safer) choices. We all had a full, beautiful and eventful day!
The next morning we made our way back down to the „base camp“, Imlil. Again only with light luggage, because a friendly mule carried our bags. We enjoyed it again to admire the nature. At least whenever we stopped briefly to look around. Because while walking we should rather pay attention to the path and our feet, because there were also some quite steep pieces to climb down on this route. We all made it back just fine. I felt my knee after a while, but it went well, for which I am very grateful. The soreness though will be with us all for a few days. Well to all of us except our guide. He grew up in the village and has climbed mount Toubkal over 400 times. The first time it was with a tour group led by his father. He than was just eleven years old!
We enjoyed a nice quiet evening in Imlil (some souvenir shopping included) before heading home the next morning after a delicious breakfast. First by car (with driver) back to Marrakesh and from there by train to Rabat.
It was a full, beautiful, „working and team building adventure“.
Two days later we continued with a new job. We took our first course in Moroccan Arabic. First a week of intensive basic course and then we will see if we continue to do courses or just practice with people on the street….. Or may be both ?
Actually, the vacation is already over and not the whole summer was vacation 😉 In the two months we spent in Germany and Switzerland, there were various things to do. Some preparations for the move to North Africa, some paperwork to rewrite, contracts to make or cancel, vaccinations to digest, another meeting with „Opticunion“, for which we will also work in Rabat and other things. Some vacations in Switzerland and Bavaria were also part of it, as well as a little time with our children and an “unround“ birthday. 85 years are already a reason to celebrate. The whole family came together and that was very nice. We really enjoyed the reunion with our children, our siblings, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. It’s always nice to see the next generations take up baton. It’s all in the past now, even though the memories and photos remain and warm the heart, we’re already flying back in a few days to a land where the warmth still burns from the summer sun from the sky….
But now enough words have been made. Now I let pictures speak:
Мы снова будем в южной Германии с начала июля и почти до середины сентября. Поскольку мы хотим снова работать за границей в течение более длительного периода времени после окончания трудовой деятельности в Германии, необходимо что-то изменить в нашем 30-летнем трудовом договоре.
Однако перед отъездом у нас был первый „штормовой опыт“.
Однажды вечером над нашим домом прошла очень мрачная гроза. Грозовая атмосфера. Ветер усилился, и песок поднялся в воздух. Когда мы закрыли окна, то заметили „странную легкую атмосферу“ над домами и услышали первый гром. Любопытные, мы забрались на крышу и осмотрелись во всех направлениях. Не без того, чтобы засыпать глаза песком. В одном направлении небо было серо-черным, а в другом мы видели мазки песка, дрейфующие и проносящиеся перед солнцем. Мы быстро сделали несколько фотографий и спустились с крыши, так как падали первые капли дождя. Сильный ветер пронес много песка по улицам и над домами, а там, где были открыты окна, и в квартиры. К сожалению, песка осталось гораздо больше, чем дождя. С неба выпало столько драгоценной влаги, что земля едва успела как следует промокнуть, а ветер тут же высушил ее снова. Когда все немного успокоилось, я снова забрался на крышу. Я был страшно удивлен, увидев небо и закат. И я был вознагражден. Солнце и песок – это действительно великие художники, которые создают прекрасные картины на небе:
Время завтрака в воскресенье продолжается до…
Было уже за 12 часов, и мы хотели подкрепить силы небольшим обедом в нашем любимом пабе на углу, прежде чем отправиться на воскресную прогулку в город. Наш заказ на обед также был принят вежливо, но через несколько минут официант вернулся и сказал: „Сейчас еще время завтрака. Обед будет позже“. Мы посмотрели друг на друга и на него с расширенными глазами и спросили, когда время завтрака? „По воскресеньям, примерно до двух часов. Затем меняется команда кухни…“ Совесть не позволяла нам просто встать и уйти, поэтому мы заказали один марокканский и один берберский завтрак. Это было очень вкусно, и мы приготовили салат на ужин дома 😉
From the beginning of July until just under mid-September, we will be in southern Germany again. Since we want to work abroad again longer after our working years in Germany, something has to be changed in our 30-year employment contract.But before we left we had our first „storm experience
One evening there was a really gloomy storm over our house. Thunderstorm atmosphere. The wind increased, so did the sand in the air. Closing the windows we noticed a „strange light atmosphere“ over the houses and heard the first thunder. Curious as we are, we climbed onto our roof and looked around in all directions. Not without getting our eyes full of sand. In one direction the sky was gray-black, in the other we saw swaths of sand drifting along and pushing in front of the sun. We quickly took a few photos and got off the roof, as a few first drops of rain were also falling. Much sand was blown by fierce winds through the streets and over the houses, and where the windows were open, also into the apartments. Unfortunately, it remained much more sand than rain. There was only so much precious wet from the sky that the ground was barely wetted properly, and the wind dried it away again right away. When the situation had calmed down a bit, I climbed onto the roof again. I was terribly surprised how the sky and the sunset now appeared. And I was rewarded. Sun and sand are really great artists who conjure up wonderful images in the sky:
Breakfast time on Sunday goes til….?
It was already past 12 o’clock and we wanted to fortify ourselves with a little lunch at our favorite corner eatery before heading out for our Sunday stroll into town. Our lunch order was also taken nicely, but a few minutes later the waiter came back and said, „It’s still breakfast time. Lunch won’t be served until later.“ Wide-eyed, we looked at each other and at him and asked until when was breakfast time? „Sundays, about until a little before two. Then the kitchen crew changes…“ Our conscience wouldn’t allow us to just get up and leave, so we ordered one Moroccan breakfast and one Berber breakfast. It was very tasty and the salad, we made us then for dinner at home 😉
From Casablanca we went for a day to Rabat. So quasi for the sake of completeness also visit the capital briefly, we thought. Really, we did not give much weight to this day trip. Because for us it was already almost 100% clear that we will stay in Fez. Provided that God does not send a soulquake.
When we then stepped out of the train station onto the main street in Rabat, we were really „caught off guard“. A tremor passed through our souls and hearts. Somehow we felt, „this is our city“. And the more we walked around the city, looked at the old fortress, the huge cemeteries along the city wall, the beach and just the old town, the firmer the feeling became. The calm atmosphere we felt also did us good. Somehow we felt we could move more freely here than in Fez. Whether that was perhaps only because it was Friday and on Fridays the whole life here is quieter, we did not know?
All this confused us not a little. We could make a list of pros and cons for both cities. We talked and prayed and decided to travel to Rabat for a few more days to Rabat to see the outskirts of the city and gather more facts. To walk around the city and pray on the spot…. We want to live in the city that God shows us and be open to His directives….
Rabat is one of the four royal cities. The name means „fortified place“ and dates back to the border fortress „Ribat“ of the Zanta Berbers in the 10th century. In the 12th century, the fortress was expanded into a fortified city. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean at about 20 meters above sea level.
In the five days we could roam Rabat „crisscross“ and also dive sometimes in the cool Atlantic to get a clear head again, we could gather more fakts and feelings. We like the city and the people. Rabat has some advantages over Fes, but Fes also has a few points that surpass Rabat. We have long lists of for+against and a roller coaster in our hearts, but no clarity yet. However, Rabat seemed more and more to become the place of our future, even if we still don’t have a whole certainty. But perhaps our certainty also depends a bit on the many „technical“ question marks we have. We do not yet know exactly how and what will work… where to live there, how to find housing…. But there are still a few weeks until then and still a lot of time to pray 😉
One day we made a trip to Meknes. We wanted to visit the small town which is about 60 km away from Fes and stroll through its old town. And since we like to be on the road early, we were at our destination shortly after ten. From the train station we walked towards the old town, but it is not as easy to find as in Fes. So we looked for a café where we thought the old town was, to drink a cup of tea and get a little orientation. We found one with a roof terrace 😉 After tea and consultation with Mr. Google, we went from there around a few corners into the alleys of the old town. We strolled along the stalls and practiced „not looking closely“ and „not asking for prices“. Because at the latest when you show interest in the goods, you can hardly get away without buying. The merchants are dependent on the tourists. Their purchases are often the only source of income. We got through quite a long time without shopping, but towards the end of our stroll, we came to a nice Berber, who invited us in German into his small store: „Just to look and chat“, he said on our „but we do not want to buy anything“. Getting involved in „just looking“ is usually already almost „the beginning of the end“. We talked and chatted and shared about the families, the difficult last years and about this and that and we then bought two small souvenirs. (Small gifts come always handy, we thought.) Then he showed us beautiful bed rugs and said we would get them for very cheap. Because the Swabians, (he had found out in the meantime that we are from the Black Forest aera), are thrifty people, therefore he would give them to us for the cheaper price. He would then simply demand a little more from the Americans and the British, he said. Besides, he said, we were his first customers today, and if the first customers bought well, it meant merchant’s luck for the whole day. We already knew this „way of thinking“ from Russia. In the meantime we had also found out that he has a family with three children and the last years had been especially hard for them because of the Corona restrictions. Since we could actually use bed rugs and he gave away the beautiful rugs so cheaply, we gave him a little extra with the words „this is for the kids“, not for business. As friends and with a joint farewell photo, we parted, each satisfied.
One thing we have learned: we no longer go to the markets in the morning, but only in the early afternoon. Because our heart can’t stand to be the first customer there and not buy anything… And we don’t buy the souvenirs „en gros“ (in large quantities at once) at bulk prices anymore, but take them one by one to give as many sellers as possible a chance and to cultivate friendships 😉
In mid-March, the time had come: everything that seemed important to us, was packed into boxes and waiting to be moved to the storage. What was not allowed to the „come with us“ pile had been given away or had found a new owner via internet. This made our hearts happy, because only a few things ended up on the bulky waste pile. But after everything was „bagged“ and before Klaus picked up the moving truck, we still had time for a last farewell stroll on Warnemünde beach and a last coffee break in our favorite coffee location.
Then the deadline was there. And so did the helpers. They were so hard-working that in just a bit under two hours all our belongings were stacked and tied up in the truck to prevent slipping. After initial doubt that the truck would be big enough, everything had found its place.
All that still remained, was to hand over the house to the new owner and, after a somewhat restless night, to hand over the last key in the morning at 6:00 a.m. before we set off with both, a joyful and a some what sad, but thankful heart. Not only did the trip go smoothly, but God had even provided us with a third driver and fourth companion. Traffic jam-free and without any problems (except for the astronomically high fuel prices) we made it to Stuttgart, where we dropped off our fellow drivers. Shortly before that, it started to rain lightly. But not only water came from above, but a „yellow, sandy broth“. The raindrops had to pass a huge Sahara sand cloud before they landed on our (and other) cars. And since the light drizzle only smeared the dust on the windshield, I had to spray a lot of windshield wiper water, so much that I was already afraid, that I would run out of it before the reaching the new home…
In the evening shortly after six o’clock we reached the warehouse, in which we have rented a small room, well and relieved. Here, two strong helpers were already waiting for us to help us unload and stow away the boxes and crates… With some difficulties we brought everything in the small room, brought the truck back and were looking forward to our bed. „Our bed“? Well, the bed that would be our sleeping place for the next few weeks. Although we were quite exhausted and knew that in the coming week we would have to sort out some of our stuff again and part with even more things, we slept well….