I was raised in the plains, but my heart lies in the hills.
Not that long ago I spent a day in the Ourika Valley of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near Marrakech. I planned a few days in advance to take the day excursion in the hills and had been looking forward to it - considering that the past three months have meant mainly flat deserts. But, I was not nearly expecting to be so pleasantly surprised at how wholly lifted I felt upon entering into the valley.
This weekend I realized just how deeply the happiness from the hills is ingrained in me. In the valley I felt instantly at peace-both retrospectively reflecting on the past and optimistically looking towards the future. It was magnified exponentially when I let my guide walk a good minute ahead of me after we broke away up a private path (you needed a ladder to get to it). I walked giddily, looking up at the stark blue sky and the rise and fall of the summits, feeling the wind blowing across my loose clothing, listening for birds and the soft crackling of leaves and twigs below my feet. It was a deep experience of pure being.
Perhaps my love for these surroundings is because I used to take walks through hills like these with my two teenage loves, perhaps it is because I really grew up and came into my own in those Rocky Mountain foothills, maybe they are reminiscent of my independence in one of my first big trips abroad alone in the Andes in Mendoza, Argentina, or telling of the deep reflection and curiosity that overtook me in the hill of Rwanda and Burundi, and maybe it is a memory of the pleasant ease of success after Trail of Seeds’ project in Venezuela. Most probably it is a combination of all of these things - a glorious history of diversely meaningful experiences tied together by a shared landscape.
It’s fascinating how only a few hours in the beauty of Morocco's nature can make one feel lifted for days. I look forward to the next time the hills elevate me.
Is there a place in the world that does the same for you?
I'd love to hear about it. Tell me below in the comments section.