Deep Delve

This weekend was amazing! I wish I only brought my camera (I’ve only attached one photo, which I took from my friend’s Facebook page). My trip to the beach didn’t work out due to costs and travel time, and the fact that we had to be back to campus by Sunday morning at 11 to practice for our big show. That being said, what I did instead absolutely blew my mind. The city of Taza is about an hour and a half out of Fes, and we took a train on which we met a Moroccan who only spoke Spanish and Darija, because he’d been living in Spain for the past few years as an engineer. We had a great conversation with him in Spanish, and I was really glad to be able to get out of French if only for a bit. Arriving in Taza, we checked into a beautiful riad for 30dhs per person per night, which is the cheapest I’ve ever slept (cheaper than a grande Chai Latte at Starbucks…). Our mission was to explore the Friouato Cave, considered to be North Africa’s longest discovered cave. We hired a guide and 11 of us climbed down 500 stairs into a giant pit lit only by a skylight-hole in the mountain above. Then we had to squeeze through a crack in the rocky ground less than three feet wide, and maybe about 20 feet long. After that, the cave opened up into chamber after chamber of looming caverns, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, shimmering crystalline rock features, mushroom-esque mineral growths, and pools of quiet and clear water.

We spent over two hours in the cave, slipping and sliding over the muddy ground and crawling over and through all of the underground topography. We had to brave a few rickety wooden-plank bridges over crevasses of undeterminable depth, and once we reached “the end” of the cave, there was clearly more to explore. It so happens that much of the cave itself was flooded, and areas previously explored were partially submerged in water. We convinced our guide to let us take off our shoes and pants and walk/wade/swim our way further into the labyrinth. For another 30 minutes we trudged through the freezing cold water in bare feet, swimming at times, crawling at others, until reaching a subterranean waterfall flowing through a hole in the ceiling. There was an old ladder leading up through the hole, which we climbed up. We reached a gigantic cascade of water pouring through the cracks, and our guide told us we shouldn’t continue further, as the water was over 6ft deep and we would be in danger of hypothermia. As cold as we were, most of us wanted to continue, but I suppose every spelunking adventure has to end sometime.

Our band’s show was last night, and in total about eight sets were played for a show lasting almost three hours. The audience was small, and comprised mostly of international students goaded by us to attend, but we had an absolute blast. My favorite was our rendition of Twist and Shout, when I got to play the drums and the whole audience was on their feet in front of the auditorium stage dancing. We went to a restaurant afterwards to celebrate, and the owner asked if we’d like to perform there next week, so our “band” has its first live gig next Thursday!

This Friday we are heading to Chefchaouen in a small group for some R&R, and perhaps hiking. As this week comes to a close, I realize that I only have three weeks of classes left, which is so exciting to me. To be a college graduate, traveling through Europe and Asia this summer, is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time.