An hour later, we strapped on our backpacks and headed off ourselves. We walked out of our ‘no car’ neighbourhood and caught two small taxis to the bus station. I’m writing this while seated on a highway coach (with Molly snoozing against my shoulder) as we head west to the Atlantic port of Essaouira. (Trivia point for all Game of Thrones fans: apparently this is one of the main locations.)
I'm happy to say the Devolins and Bruces enjoyed our time together. The kids get along well, and everyone is able to walk for hours - an important consideration on trips like these. As you might expect, Jenn and Rodney wanted to maximize their days. This meant the Devolins had to "pick up the pace" a bit. As such, when we arrive at our hotel this afternoon, I think we will be taking it easy for a couple of days. We want to swim in the ocean, and hike along the beach. Apparently, we can take a camel tour along the coast, so that might be interesting.
After 6 weeks of people joining and departing, we now have 6+ weeks alone as a family before the Brandons join us just before Christmas. While we look forward to that visit, we also look forward into settling more into a daily routine (i.e. more schoolwork). Having said that, we still have some interesting ground to cover between now and then - more of Morocco (6 days), Spain (3), Israel (10), Turkey (7), Abu Dhabi/Dubai (3) and South Africa (17).
Not surprisingly, the kids are trying to keep track of how many countries they've visited. For the past few weeks, one of our ongoing debates centres on the question “what counts as a country?”. For example, do we count Monaco and the Vatican City? We also slipped into Germany for lunch on our way to the Basel airport - can we count it too?
George and Molly want to include everything. My standard is a little higher. I don’t think you count tiny principalities as countries, and I think you need to be outside the airport for more than a few hours. For example, I’ve made a stopover in the Copenhagen airport, but don’t count Denmark as a country I’ve visited. Having said that, can I count Hong Kong and Taiwan, or are they both parts of China? Can I count East and West Germany as 2 countries? Do we count Abu Dhabi and Dubai as 1 or 2?What about the Turkish enclave of northern Cyprus (which Canada does not recognize)? And finally, what about my brief visit a few metres into North Korea at the DMZ?
The bottom line is that even a seemingly straightforward question like “how many countries have you visited?” isn't really very clear. (After I wrapped the kids’ minds around that, I pointed out that counting 'nations visited' is even more complex - but that’s a topic for another day.) To wrap this up, using the kids' generous method of counting, George has been to 13 countries, while Molly has been to 10. (We took George to Portugal and Spain in 2003 before Molly was born, and George and I visited Norway alone in September.)
We have also noted that Canada and the United States only count as one country, even though each is about as big as Europe. (I told the kids I’ve been to 9 provinces (not NFLD) and 2 territories (not NWT), and 47 states (not Idaho, Hawaii or Alaska - unless I count the Fairbanks USAF air base). See, even I like to bend these rules to my benefit!
Overall, I think I can say the 4 of us have been lots of places, and we have more to see before we’re finished. As I laid in bed this morning listening to the 5:30 a.m. “call to prayer” blaring through loudspeakers from a nearby mosque, I was reminded why we should travel: not to be pampered and made comfortable, but to experience something new and broaden our horizons.
On a totally different subject, I noticed yesterday that speaking about being an MP in the past tense has become more natural for me. I wonder if that's because the first of the month came and went without a paycheque being deposited into my account for the first time in more than 11 years! Some of you may have also noticed I changed my FaceBook status from 'MP in Canada' to 'university professor in South Korea'. I’m not sure that’s technically correct yet, but I’m hoping the good people at Sejong University won’t mind me jumping the gun a little.
Anyway, I think the bus is going to stop for lunch, and I love Moroccan food! That’s all for now.