Best. Weekend. Ever.

“A dude from Seattle. A dude from Salt Lake City. And a dude from Orlando. All came to Morocco to study, but all knew that their main focus would be traveling to see everything Morocco had to offer. The setting: Moulay Idriss, the quiet mountain village inset at the corner of a lush, expansive valley. The objective: climb as high into those mountains as was possible, and spend the night there. So they set out, backpacks stocked with cheap food, extra layers, and a sleeping bag. It would turn out to be the best weekend ever.”

It’s impossible to describe in words, or even with these photos, the feeling which came over me as I sat atop the rocky crags overlooking Moulay Idriss and the surrounding valley. The photo posted was taken at the first resting point; we kept ascending and reached a point about three times that height. Whenever I’ve summited a hill or peak, or even stood at the edge of a canyon, it has been a wonderful view to be sure. But this past weekend, I actually felt scared. Like if I tripped and fell, I would tumble for infinity be lost. I felt like I’d never been that high before, like I was on the tallest building in the world and everything around me was simply miniature train models.

We left school on Saturday morning, arrived in Moulay Idriss around noon, and filled our packs with supplies. While summiting the peak, we came across two locals leading donkeys back down the hill; besides that, we were completely alone. The sunset was almost unreal. After nightfall, making a fire was easy because all the wood in the area was bone dry, something I’m definitely not used to living in Seattle. It was easily over 75 F during the day, but plummeted to just around freezing at night. Needless to say it wasn’t the best night sleep I’ve ever had, but waking to see the sunrise over the mountain ridge made it worthwhile. We took another hike that morning, passing through some farmer’s land on our way along the ridge. A turtle, a big snake, and a donkey were the only other things we saw until reaching town again that afternoon.

The weekend’s greatness was somewhat tarnished by an incident that occurred last Thursday. A friend and I went on a morning run, and ended up getting into a thicket of trees and coming across a fence, on the other side of which was clear grass and what looked like a public road. We climbed over the fence and ran along the road, passing by a small guardhouse (everyone in Morocco hires guards…it’s strange). The guard game out, wished us good morning, and promptly informed us that we were trespassing on the king’s palace grounds.

Biggest bombshell I’ve every heard? Certainly. Last week was just full of superlatives. So, after an hour of trying to converse with the palace guards and police in broken French, we were driven back to school. We had to meet with the VP of Student Affairs and the chief of security of course, and the lesson learned is NEVER climb over a fence. No matter how short or unmarked, you could just be stumbling into…the royal palace.