I think of myself as a relatively experienced traveller. I’ve visited virtually every continent, been to more airports than I can count, and acquired quite a collection of stamps on my passports. Yet, I say all of this with a dose of humility, because I discovered recently that while I’ve been ticking off destination boxes. others have done the same… with completely different experiences. That is not to say I am running to join them. In these past few months I’ve let myself be dragged – not without use of force – into their world of sport-focused travel. From an Alpine ski trip to a Moroccan beach surf trip, I accidentally infiltrated the world of my sport-fanatic friends and learned how to artfully dodge their daredevil-insanities.
After being mercilessly shamed by my friends for chickening out of our first year ski trip, I resolved to find some sneaky way to have my cake and eat it too. There had to be a magic formula. Surely I could go on these ski trips without really needing to ski. Because as much as I love my friends, I really wasn’t keen on breaking a leg.
Little did I know, this scheme would come in handy once again when these same friends finally agreed to grant me my year-long wish to visit Morocco – but, under the traitorous condition that we go to surf. Initially, this proposition upset me even more than their alpine-obsession. I felt betrayed, but since I could hardly pass up the paradise of sunshine, tagine, and friendly people, I once again made up my mind to go incognito, this time as a committed non-surfer blending into the seascape with my more adventurous friends.
First, we compromised: the trip would start with a few days in Marrakech, where the only physical exertion would be navigating the souk and seeing how many cornes de gazelles we could eat. Once arrived, I savoured the garden visits and coffee stops. These were precious days without sore, cramped muscles from sports. Soon we were running to catch the bus that would take us to the Southern Moroccan coast and the surf-town of Taghazout.
On game day, we arrived just in time for sunset on the Atlantic, a happy surprise for everyone and a foreshadowing of just how beautiful our stay would turn out to be. The land of the setting sun and the town of Taghazout were the ideal setting to enjoy a trip planned entirely around an activity I had no real intention of enjoying. On surf day 1, I wiggled into my extra-small wetsuit, picked out an equally small soft board, participated in the beachside warm-up exercises and even managed once or twice to stand up on my board. That should definitely be enough to count as a proper college experience. When I was hit in the shin by the fins of another surfer, I called my own time out and promptly retired my board to join the beach’s rare sunbathers— an activity inside my comfort-zone.
The next few days were spent searching for the best iced-coffees in town, reading through my copy of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and cheering on my friends as they surfed progressively bigger waves and got amusing sunburns from their abundant use of blue zinc and exposed feet. Our days were split into two parts: the mornings were for surfing and in the afternoons we met up to explore the town, relax and catch up. This setup was ideal for travelling with a group. Somehow I felt released from my self-imposed pressure of needing to see it all. We had come to Morocco to surf and the rest was all a bonus. So, if you too are an exercise-phobic traveller, don’t automatically decline if your friends suggest a sports trip. You may find that with an open-mind and a significant amount of willpower, adventure traveling can be rather enjoyable and surprisingly insightful.
Morgane Briere: Morgane is a Toronto born, disorganized, travel junky. She always knows where her passport is but please don’t ask her to find her keys.
Pictures by Morgane Brière.