July 30, 2014

"Get. Out. Now."

Dear Reader,

We beat the system, man. We beat it.

Karin, Andrew, and I started our day off by working on our project about the call to prayer. As we thought of great places to film, Andrew suggested that we go to a look-out point that the locals love. Barricaded and guarded to prevent tourists from spoiling the spot, there was no way we were going to get in. At least not.........conventionally.

With a plan in mind, we walked down and around the fortress to the sea. Taking the lead, Andrew started to slowly work his way across a wall above the ocean. He picked his way across the flat surface carefully and almost slipped into the water only twice. After some effort, he made it to a place where he could stand. I removed my shoes, rolled up my jeans, and walked through the shallows to get to where he was. Karin, sporting water shoes, did the same.

Andrew led the way across the sharp rocks and through the surf. We reached another point where we had to pause and think. "Should we turn back? NO. Swim?...Again, no. Cling to this sketchy wall and shuffle to the other side?...Sure, let's go." It took awhile, but we made it across that gap mostly dry. After hopping around tidal pools, we ducked through a large hole that had been carved out by the ocean and started to move along a cliff face. Unprotected, my feet were rubbed raw by the rough rocks. (Fun fact...the sewage from the city runs down part of the cliff we were on.) It was a difficult, painful, slow process for me.

Eventually, we saw some Moroccan kids that were diving into the sea off of the tall rocks and they acknowledged us. When they saw us trying to move across another wall above the sea, they cried out and said that that way was not a good idea. One of them swam over to where we were to help us out. (What a bro!) Andrew went first, walking in the most shallow parts of the ocean. When he hit the deeper part, the Moroccan guy motioned for him to take a piggy back ride over to the other side. So, Andrew climbed on and was ferried safely across the water. Karin and I repeated the same process as the rest of the young Moroccans looked on and laughed at us. Our friendly helper didn't ask for anything in return for his service, and he welcomed us to the location. He pointed up to some stairs near the fortress and we climbed up.

As we relaxed and took photos, we realized that there was a reason the locals guarded the place so well. The views there were absolutely incredible. After finishing up, we decided to walk up to the upper level where the unofficial guard was stationed. His face when he saw us was priceless. Furious, he started angrily clapping and calling at us like we were animals. To make him more angry, we pretended not to see or hear him. He kept clapping as he moved towards us. What did he think we were going to do? Scurry away from him? "No way, man." I thought to myself. "I got my jeans all squidgy for this, and I ain't leavin' just yet." Andrew started talking to him in the local Arabic dialect and asked what he wanted. The guy said something like "This place is off limits!!!"....but then Andrew motioned to the few Moroccans milling around the place and commented "What about them?" Owned, the guy started clapping and barking at the others as well. After waiting just a little bit longer to make him angry, we moved to the exit and walked past the barriers. As we strolled away, I couldn't help but laugh. We beat the system, man. We snuck around back, scurried across cliffs, and rode on the shoulders of a stranger to get there, but we beat the flipping system. It was great.

Especially that guy's face, man. That was the best.

NM

July 13, 2014

"An Awful Decision"

Dear Reader,

A few days ago, I woke up early in the morning and made an awful decision. I thought about my choice all the way to school, and as soon as I could, I sat down to pen the following wretched words.

"I, Nicholas David Merrill, on this the ninth day of the seventh month of the year 2014, do fully commit myself to growin' a raggedy, nasty, tasteless "beard" until August 5th, 2014. I pledge to deal with all discomfort, every snide remark, and all social repercussions that will inevitably come up as a result of my awful decision. I have selected Shunhe Wang as my accountabilibuddy on this journey towards unattractiveness. To him, I surrender my razor and my dignity. By signing below, I pledge to go ALL THE WAY......and so it begins. -Nicholas David Merrill."

My friend Shaheen took the completed document and read it out loud to everyone present.  After the reading, Shunhe Wang accepted my razor and took on the role of "accountabilibuddy" to help me on my journey. It was a great and terrible moment. You see, I've always wanted to grow out my nasty facial whiskers, but my mom is 1000% opposed to any sort of facial hair growth. Well..............she isn't here in Morocco with me. (Sorry, mom.)

It's been a test of my will, but I'm on Day 5, and things are going just fine.

I really want it to turn out well. And if not "well", I just want it to be bearable. And if it ain't "bearable", I'll just shoot for a beard that doesn't bring tears of shame and disgust to all who behold it.

Don't expect pictures any time soon....I'll shave those for later.

NM