Grab Your Passport And Come With
By: Jayson Alexander Carr, @jayson._.alexander
Jayson and I met freshmen year of university at St. Edward's in Austin, Texas over a stupid surf joke. Jayson, a classical icon for a young Southern Californian dude, and I have shared many adventures, exchanged love stories, and most definitely overcame some enormous snow bowls in the Rockies. I called Jayson one day and said you need to come to Europe with us, here are the dates. Two days later, Jayson confirms his plane ticket and we prepare ourselves by forfeiting our expectations, changing destinations and agreeing to meet in Barcelona and "go from there."
Jayson will always been a close friend who teaches me what being calm, cool and collected really entails. His energy and spirit is one that I admire, and what got him his invitation to the excursion described below. To this day, I call Jayson as he sneaks away from his current job as a Social Worker at the County of Orange, to invite him on trips. "Come to Mexico. Let's go to Taos, Come visit us in Houston."
Jayson has always been involved in fields of psychology and, I believe, has an excellent grasp on human interaction and behavior. I've approached him many times with situations that he has helped me though. So when I thought of extending the invite to Mr. Jayson Alexander Carr, I knew he would add a certain energy to the trip.
When Axel Brave calls with a plan to explore Spain, France and Portugal I was excited by the adventure so I bought a ticket to and from Barcelona with about a month in between. Then, as the day neared for departure I get a call from Axel telling me to scratch that idea about France because we’re going to Morocco now. So I bought my ticket to Marrakech and set off to meet the guys in Barcelona first.
It’s like a reunion of sorts. We set off from our own homes, arrived separately then found our way to the Airbnb. Traveling light, we made our way through the city with our backpacks and the occasional Wi-Fi stop at a coffee shop. The afternoons in Barcelona were absolutely serene.
Imagine walking through shaded, cobbled streets after a Paella and Sangria lunch then laying in the park on a Saturday.
Marrakech changed all that. The old Medina was a mayhem of snake charmers, monkeys on leashes, and fruit smoothie carts. All this in the town square, surrounded by a maze of winding alleys cramped full during the day of vendors with their similar but different goods.
We made plans to set out to the Sahara, a journey that would take a few days. Traveling with Axel Brave means the party is never far away though.
Buying the only bottle of Scotch in literally hundreds of miles we made our final drive into the Sahara where we joined a camel caravan to our campsite in the dunes. The dinner party got louder and louder with each pass around of that bottle.
We laid on the cool sand looking up at the stars from the bank of a dune that evening for hours. We woke to the dark the next morning so we could ride out for the sunrise. Watching that sunrise there with my friends was one I won’t forget.
Essaouira is the coastal town in Morocco forgotten by time. We had our own spot for the week where we made a home and had a vacation in a vacation. I lazily took in the mornings while Axel would get up and run the town, finding the fruit of the day and fresh pastries for breakfast. We all convened on the roof to pick through the fruit Axel had found and absorb the good company.
Axel makes friends with foodies, no matter the place. This time it was a frozen yogurt shop. A couple from Italy had found this little nook where they were happy and it really showed through their food. We went everyday to talk to them and get the flavor of the day.
These are the people we laughed with, we ate with, and we learned from. These were one of our neighbors.
At sunset we meandered onto the rocks of the coast with the rest of the town to take in the last of the day.And as we made our way back we would pick up fresh ingredients for dinner that night.
Moroccan Chimichurri has a distinct taste because of the way Axel had to substitute this for that and how each of the ingredients had its distinctness from its Argentine counterpart. Each new batch had a new twist as the vacation went on.
Soon though we moved on to Portugal where we found new flavors to taste. Lagos is a small coastal town in the Algarve with warm beaches and cheap beer. Unlike Morocco, Portugal has no problem having beer on the menu all day so we acclimated ourselves to the area with a night on the town.
The Algarve has some beautiful beaches with clear blue waters with rocks to swim out to and jump from. Some beaches were easy to find and others only appeared after we walked through a dark cave.
A lot of the time we spent finding beaches to swim but when the town hostel wants to have a BBQ just to try Axel’s Chimichurri then we have to go. Lagos Chimi was made that day and it was devoured completely by the party. Compliments to the chef.
As we continued our way through Portugal we landed in the capitol, Lisbon. A historic, hilly city full of vibrant color and food. The sea food was mouthwatering and at a fraction of the price in the US. We gorged ourselves day in and day out on lobster, oysters, fish, shrimp and wine.
In the old city we found ourselves another Airbnb but since this was going to be our last stay before we went home we splurged a bit and got a balcony and modern kitchen to enjoy. So we cooked up new meals and a new Chimichurri. The Lisboa Chimi drizzled on the steak was just what it needed.
Getting out into these new places gave us the opportunity to try new things, like Lagos and Lisboa Chimi, and learning from new neighbors, like our Italian friends from Essaouira. These new flavors are just taste testers for what’s out there. I’m glad I booked that trip. We learned a lot on our 35 day excursion and my experiences with Axel and our friends will be ones that I'll never forget. If you ever have the chance to travel with people like Axel - do it. If not, go anyways, because your travels will lead you to see new places, meeting amazing people, and tasting something different.
Can’t wait to taste the next Chimichurri.