My nightmare of being stuck in a prison cell faded as I slowly woke up, revealing my cold, uncovered leg dangling off the side of my top bunk bed. Just as one half of my body, uncovered by a camel-fur blanket, was frigid, the other half of my body was stuck in an oven-like trap between the thick blanket and the torso of my girlfriend who slept beside me that night. I often wonder why it is that we humans so often wake up just moments before our alarm clock rings, as if our body has learned to dread the well-known jingling sound of the standard iPhone alarm.
After groggily stumbling out of my bed only to slap my phone several times to stop the incessant ringing, I noticed my beach towel and swim trunks carefully draped over a chair. Curious, I thought, there must be some reason why I pulled these out last night. Just then, I realized that a large number of my classmates and I had planned to go for a hike later that day at approximately 11:00 AM. Picking up my phone, I realized it was just after 10:45, so as any late teenager would do, I frantically took off the clothes I had slept in and tossed them in the corner of the room. I then put on my bathing suit, grabbed my towel and pre-packed backpack, and dashed off.
Hot weather has always been an issue for me, a pale American with Canadian and Dutch heritage, but I’ve noticed that Moroccan heat feels different. As our group of twenty energized college students approached the trailhead of the hike, I felt a faint breeze lift the back of my shirt which sweat had glued to the skin on my back. Here, it seems as though the bold African sun is always moderated by a breeze. The interconnectedness of the sun beating down on the skin and the breeze soothing its burn is reminiscent of the yin and the yang in Chinese philosophy.
As our hike continued, my backpack shuffled against my sweat-soaked back. My untanned skin exposed to the sun increased, I noticed that my arms were becoming redder and redder. I felt dizzy from dehydration and could only think about a cold shower and rest. Suddenly, as we summited a small hill, I saw some local Moroccan boys diving from an outcropping of rocks into the blue, crystal-like water. This was the relief I had so desperately needed.
Surrounded by beautiful cliffs and breathtakingly clear water, we raced into the sea.