Monday, October 1, 2012

Enjoying Just Walking In The Park

As I rapidly approach my COS (Completion Of Service, or Close Of Service) date, I've been appreciating in a new light various elements of my experience here in Morocco.  Of course, with less than two weeks left until I finish my Peace Corps service, I'm conscious that I don't have a lot of time left to experience in person the benefits of life here. 

In this town where I live here in the Sahara, I've enjoyed walking through the palmerie, which is the massive grove of palm trees which stretches in, through, and out of this town on both ends.  It's so extensive that you can't see the ends of it even when you're on top of the mountains near the town.  I feel a serenity and calming influence there amongst the quiet of the palms.

In addition to the tranquility of the palmerie, it also teems with a variety of life.  I most often have seen dates hanging from the palms, and have been very happy to savor the sweetness of many dates plucked from the palmerie.  However, I've also seen apples, apricots, and pomegranates growing in the palmerie. 

We often enjoy fantastic weather here in town.  On many days, the sky beams blue.  It rarely rains here in town.  In any case, I've always been able to see the nearby mountains when I've gone for walks in the palmerie here.

For quite a while, I'd been wanting to go for a moonlit stroll through the palmerie.  After noticing over a period of a few days that the moon had been getting fuller and fuller, I found out that the moon would be rising around the hour of sunset.  In yet another fortunate turn, the weather had been clear day after day as the moon was becoming more and more full.  Accordingly, a couple of nights ago, I headed out for a moonlit walk through the palmerie.

I purposely chose a route which took me, for the most part, on wider paths so that my way would be less likely to be darkened by moon shadows being cast by mud walls or palm trees.  Consequently, for most of my walk, I was able to see where I was stepping.  By the light of the moon, I also enjoyed seeing across fields there in the palmerie. 

During my nighttime excursion through the palmerie, I not only was glad to experience the palmerie under a different type and amount of light, but I was also pleased to be experiencing its beauty and serenity in an even more quiet setting than usual.  Although I heard some dogs barking far away, usually I only heard a chorus of crickets as I walked under the palms. 

I also was glad to be walking through the palmerie at such a late and unusual hour since I was alone.  Discounting the three toads I saw hopping along at a few different points, I didn't see anyone else the entire time I was on my nighttime stroll through the palmerie.  When I walk in the palmerie during the day, usually I pass someone at some point.  So while I typically walk through the palmerie mostly alone, I appreciated the experience of walking there even more when I was doing so late at night, in complete solitude. 

On my moonlit stroll, I spent about 40 minutes in the palmerie, exiting it a few minutes after midnight.  I was glad that despite feeling fatigued, I had made myself get up and go out for the late night visit to the palmerie.  On that trip, I got to experience a place I very much enjoy, but from a new perspective, which has helped me to appreciate it in new ways.

Since the palmerie is so huge, there are so many trails to explore that I've probably only hiked a tiny percentage of the palmerie's paths.  It certainly has been a tremendous blessing from God to have what is essentially such an immense park here in the town where I have been living, and for one which I have been extremely grateful to God.

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