Anton Pablo

Here and There

If you had asked me 3 weeks ago (and some of you did), how I feel about going back to Morocco, you would have heard a completely different answer. And I can point to the exact moment when it all changed.

Back in August, when the weather was amazing and I was busy running around with my friends and getting together with family and generally frolicking in a freshly opened up and relatively normal Ontario, I was not so thrilled about returning.

I got the news that Canada had suspended flights from Morocco for a period of 30 days. A few minutes later I got an email from Air Canada about my cancelled flights. In that moment, I sat very still and became quiet. I checked in with my gut. My primal response. My intuitive being.

What I learned when I did this was a little alarming. I was not disappointed. I wasn’t sad. I had NO desire to start re-routing and finding a new way to get there. I simply sighed and carried on.

At the time, I wasn’t ready to go back. Not ready. My gut reaction surprised me a little but also made me very, very nervous. A few days later I got a photo from a friend of a new hotel they had found. A budget hotel. One that did not at all look very comfortable to me. It made me nervous.

I quietly rebooked my flight for October 1st, buying myself 17 extra days in Canada but because it was the end of August, I essentially had another month before I’d go. Thank God!

At that time, I was super comfortable. I mean, settled. It’s been a year and I finally have things all happy in my little rental suite. I was very cozy and enjoying my routine. I was enjoying spending the day here and there with my niece and her fiance. I was enjoying visiting people I hadn’t seen in a long time (due to Covid). I was enjoying the car I have this time around. I love the convenience of Amazon. I have gotten use to the North American drug store which doesn’t really exist anywhere except the U.K. I was languishing with my favourite streaming services. Convenience food. People who speak English. People who get me.

I’ve had a bonus year in Canada to spend time with my 3 young friends Dani, Jagger and Jovie. It’s been such a great year with them. Even in lockdown because they were my pod. I’ve enjoying spending time with Mandy and Georgia. Seeing the kids grow. I got to help with homework and school projects which I miss out on in the summer. I got to spend another Christmas here. I got to spend my birthday with my sister and her family.

When the flight was cancelled I was half packed. I was thinking forward to being back in Marrakech.

To walking everywhere because I have no car.

To having to run down to the “hanout” to get bread or water if I needed some in the moment.

I was thinking about the young men that try to strike up conversation in hopes I will share my obvious millions and offer them a chance at a blue passport because I’m so swept away by their “Hey pretty lady, where you from?”

I was thinking about the heat that I left last August.

I was thinking about not being able to communicate easily and how hard it is to not have a conversation in fast English with the occasional cultural reference for humour. (I have a lot more English friends now).

All I could feel when I thought about going back was fear.

I actually felt fear. (And I’m a Coach, so you better believe I recognized that two headed monster!)

For more than a brief minute I thought I felt the first crack in the fascade.

I thought I felt the very first-ever-in-six-years seed of doubt. I became a little paralysed by the fear. Was this was a turning point and maybe Morocco isn’t my future and maybe I am not going to be happy when I return and maybe this was going to be my last year or even worse, that I would be back sooner than that even?

I was in love with Canada for the first time in many years and in love my life here and the ease of it all. I was terrified that I had lost the “thing” that burns in my gut and makes me want to be out in the world seeking and seeing and exploring and observing and experiencing.

I was afraid I had lost my edge.

And believe me on this if you believe nothing else – you need that edge to live in North Africa because it is NOT easy.

It is complicated and messy and dusty and hard. It requires a strong backbone, a certain attitude.

Strength. Resilience. Formidability. Not fear. There is no room for fear.

Then, in one specific instant, it all changed. I was sitting on my love it / hate it love seat, watching Blindspot on Netflix in my cozy little space when it happened.

There was a scene shot in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. One of my favourite buildings in Europe.

As I sat here and saw this beautiful work of architecture, I noticed a feeling wash over me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. A vibration. A humming. A sensation so unmistakable that I literally paused the show, did a little rewind and sat staring at the screen for a long time. With a dumb smirk on my face.

In that one glimpse, I got my fire back. I mean, it was always there but it had been deeply buried under maple syrup and great lakes, school pick ups and 5th birthday parties.

Once the spark hit that flame — WHOOSH. It ALL turned around. And I haven’t looked back.

Now, I’m ready to go. I’m excited. Anxious of course, but happy. I am fortified and ready. I have ways to stay in touch with my friends. I have projects galore for this fall. I have plans and trips and friends to see. I’m ready. I am 100% ready to go.

Let’s do this! Inshallah. I’m even starting to mutter things in Arabic under my breath. You know…for practice.