I wake up every mornin’ and I’m steppin’ out the door

Change of plans: On a plane to Spain, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Months ago, when Maryam headed off to Egypt to study Arabic for a year at the AUC, we promised her we’d go stalk her in Cairo. She taunted us with “Maryam is in Cairo” gstatus messages (this screenshot is from late September), and finally, around October or so, Aisha and I decided we needed to get serious about this. “How’s the job hunt going?” Aisha kept asking me. “Don’t forget, you need money so we can go to Cairo in December or January!”

I emailed Maryam: “Please for to arrange a camel to pick me up from the airport, thanks.”

Her reply: “I’ve got a caravan of camels booked to pick you all up from the airport at 6pm, don’t be late.”

Jokes notwithstanding, I never expected any of this would really happen until the afternoon – a mere 2.5 weeks ago – when Aisha took my breath away by delivering the following late-breaking news, completely out of the blue, “Yasmine, Maryam’s actually going to be traveling around North Africa and Portugal and Spain during her winter break. Let’s go to Spain.” I stared at her, wide-eyed, at a loss for words. At random moments throughout the rest of the day, I just kept jumping up and down and shaking my fists in the air in a gesture of SUCCESS!

So. Spain it is. There will be four of us, and we will fly into and out of Madrid. In between, there’s a week in Spain (Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Granada) and another week in Morocco (Tangier, Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh). Beautiful Barcelona that I keep hearing so much about deserves another trip of its own, another time.

I’ve wanted to go to Spain ever since I was 13-14 years old, when I used to sit around in the behtuk reading Naseem Hijazi‘s overly romanticized historical fiction in Urdu – re-reading the books so many times that the delicate pages would fall away from the spine and I’d have to continually glue them back in. To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. The only reason I’ve barely even talked about it to friends and family is because I still can’t believe it’s happening.

“But why would anyone want to go to Spain?” asks my father incredulously.
“For the history and culture!” I shoot back.
“History and culture? Why don’t you go to Saudi Arabia, then?”

And: “Why Morocco? It looks just like Rawalpindi, of all places.”

And then there’s my sweet mother, to whom I explained that Spain is in Europe.
“Europe,” she said slowly. “Are you going to be near London? You should stop by and visit [the relatives] in Bradford, too.”

“Ummy, I’m not going to England. I’m going to Spain. It’s a completely different country.”

She continued anxiously: “They’re going to be so upset that you didn’t stop by. Maybe you should fly into the Manchester airport.”

“But I’m not going to Manchester or Bradford! I’m going to SPAIN AND MOROCCO.”

Because I myself really know nothing about Spain and Morocco, I turned to the rockstars who do. Zana, Shaista, Lil Baji, and and A proved to be rocking in that department. Brimful directed me to her lovely musings on three weeks in Spain last year, and Baji re-posted her travelogue for me. Between the two of them, I had enough articulate, amusing, and invaluable writing to occupy my train commute for a day.

And an email that – if things had been otherwise – should have been a part of that exuberant ‘We’re from Barcelona’-subjectlined GMail thread:

Dear Imran,
I’m going to Spain! I never would have thought it’d actually happen so soon. If you were around, you probably would have been the first person I’d have emailed for recommendations. Like, where’s a good spot to sit and write in silence? And how can I ensure that my attempts at photography even do justice to the country and its beauty? And where can I find the best tortilla espanola? Someday, we shall compare notes.
fi amanillah,

H requested I remain on the lookout for hot Spanish and Moroccan men for her. Somayya demanded presents. The sister asked if she could sleep in my room while I’m away. And J offered nothing but flattery:

Don’t fall in love and get married to some bali star over there in the Mediterranean, okay!
Also, avoid natives who propose in the first 3 minutes of meeting you, because there will be many!


So, my internetS buddies, I shall eat bajillions of tortilla espanolas for you all. Meanwhile, you can help me out with a couple of questions I’ve been taking a poll on:

1. Laptop or no laptop? (Carrying around a laptop would be annoying, and worrying about it getting lost or stolen would be nerve-wracking, but the idea of no regular access to GMail – and okay, okay, flickr – for two weeks is already making me twitchy.)

2. Carry-on or check-in? (I hate the idea of checking-in my bag and having the airlines potentially lose it. But carry-ons come with TSA liquid restrictions and drama. I shake my fist!)

I leave this Monday morning, by the way. It shall be grand.

(Also, I’ve not even begun packing yet.)

38 thoughts on “I wake up every mornin’ and I’m steppin’ out the door

  1. ohmygod! i commented on flickr first and read the blog later! hahaha funny how Allah Mian heard my prayer way in advance ;) have a great trip, babe and be the rockstar photojourno that you are and bring back tons of fun stuff for all o’ us, your fansss :)

    travel safe’ :)

  2. Eeeeeeek! How exciting! I spent last December in Spain in those exact four cities, and had the time of my life. You will love it!

    As far as your questions
    1. Yes, laptop.
    2. Yes, check a bag. The Madrid airport is quite nice and you shouldn’t have your bags lost. Just get to the airport in plenty of time to check in and all that jazz (we got there like 3 hours before our flight).

    Have a wonderful trip! If you need recommendations for things to see/eat/do, please e-mail me and I’ll be happy to help you out!

  3. whatevs. i don’t even have any constructive advice for you. i just wanted to let you know that i hate you and i hope you die of happiness overload.
    but for serious — WOOOO!

  4. ““Why Morocco? It looks just like Rawalpindi, of all places.””

    that’s exactly what my mom’s take on morocco was! LOL!

    also, no laptop. there are plenty of cheap internet access coffee shops you can visit which will (a) lessen your load and (b) allow you to observe more people!

    as for carryon – i’d cram as much as possible into a carryon just b/c, no matter how nice the airport, airlines are notorious for losing your luggage! that said, if you are packing a lot, then at LEAST pack one full change of clothes in your carryon.

    also, i want presents. and pix. and a postcard. el fin.

  5. re: liquid restrictions concern – don’t fret! they have drinks on the plane and you can buy all the cool, exotic shampoos and lotions and potions when you arrive!!! GAH!!! JEALOUS!!!

  6. dudette! email be before you leave because i have one very important piece of advice for granada that (if you don’t already know) you cannot do without.

  7. I second all of Baji’s suggestions– as a traveler myself, as much as i love my laptop, if you arent doing any actual work you need it for, besides emailing and gchatting– go without.

    And same– i almost never check in a bag. That way, no drama, no hassle. Its all with me baby.

    With multiple destination travel: You want to be extra mobile and extra simple. The unfortunate thing is, sometimes if you are traveling with OTHER people, they slow you down, and bring ridiculous amounts of luggage.

    If it comes between wasting precious hours waiting for travel companion to get himself/herself together with their gigantic suitcase and high maintenance selves….and ditching them :)

    I say ditch ’em.

    But then again, im mean.

  8. Oh! Spain?! Aaand Morocco?? You will have the time of your life ~ spend lots of time taking photos for those of us stuck in freezing cold London, okay? And I won’t insist that you fly over cos I’ll get upset you came ALL this way, and didn’t come for chai and pakorey!

    Your Abbu is hilarious: “Why Morocco? It looks just like Rawalpindi, of all places.”
    True, all sadly true, unfortunately…

  9. I’m so happy for you, girl! You were born to take this trip to Spain and Morocco! I’ve never been to Morocco but it’s a dream of mine too. I’m so excited for you. Have a wonderful trip and I’d recommend ditching the laptop but checking in baggage.

    Sunny travels!

  10. that’s awesome! i hope it’s lots of fun. =)

    oh, and i agree with baji on the laptop/luggage. just don’t forget an extra memory card or two for your photos. that would be sad for all of us. =(

  11. Hey Yasmine – long time reader and fellow headwrap wearer. So pleased to hear you’re going to Spain and Morocco. I have always dreamed about going to these 2 locations ever since I can remember. Two years ago I went to Morocco and ended up getting married, so Marrakech has a very special place in my heart. Enjoy! Be prepared for millions of perfect photo opportinities in Marrakech. Jardin Marjorelle is touristy but gorgeous for that bold, brilliant colour.
    Enjoy, enjoy.

  12. That sounds like a dream trip! I hope you have a blast. Even though I both checked my bag and brought a laptop, I’m not a strong advocate of either. The Madrid airport is beautiful and reliable, and is unlikely to lose your luggage, but I mostly checked my bag because I hate the whole rush/competition for space in the overhead when boarding flights- but given the way airlines have become these days, that seems unavoidable. The laptop was just a safety blanket, and totally unnecessary- there are plenty of internet cafes, especially in Granada & Sevilla.

    In Granada, the Albayzin neighborhood is worth checking out, as is the restaurant El Kasbah. The rest, like the Alhambra, will be more than evident!

    Also, from friends who have visited Spain during the winter, I’ve been told that it can get a bit nippy, maybe a moreso than a usual SF day– but maybe that just gives you an excuse to go shopping once you get there! :)

    Can’t wait to read about your journeys!!

  13. i was just talking to you but you just ran away to shower and go to halaqa
    but i say:
    no laptop–no flickr/blog/gchat = liberating
    check in bag–2 weeks is too much to have just a carry on i think. although if you think you can do it. go for it.

    um. and im emailing you other stuff.

    and. HIGH FREAKING FIVE. i cant believe we are actually doing this.

    btw my roomate just got back from morocco today and she said its ridiculously cold. bring coats.

    okok back to reality. yay finals…

  14. awesome! im so excited for you! Its lots of fun to travel with friends and these are the moments you are going to remember for years to come inshallah!

  15. oh and i would still take my laptop. if nothing else, to upload my pictures. haha. alrite, ill admit it. im the person who checks their email every 2 seconds.

  16. Lucky! I am (very) tentatively planning a trip to Spain and Morocco too for next summer, so I’m excited to hear about your travels. :)

    I vote no laptop, and check in luggage.

  17. Congratulations! Sounds very exciting.

    (It probably means that I am a sports junkie since my first thought was “Think of all the soccer/football games she could take in!”)

  18. Psh. I do NOT read this blog to be made to feel all jealous and deprived like! If you’re going to be having mad times withOUT me, don’t tell me about it! :(


  19. I would vote yes to the laptop and yes to the carryon: if the airport loses my bag, at least I’ll have my toothbrush and some clean underwear. (I’m NOT kidding!)

    The trip sounds fantastic, though! Have fun and remember to post pictures! :)

    (P.S. That status message picture really gave me a -oh-remembering-those-good-times laugh because my friends and I do the same thing! *big grin*)

  20. Tee hee at your mom saying you need to pop over to London while in Spain.

    I was JUST saying yesterday that I wanna do the Spain and Morocco thing this year. Perhaps we’ll find each other there.

    I so want to be that Aisha! :)

  21. Where are you sister? The whole world has changed since you last wrote here…And things keep reminding of you…What do we do?

  22. Oh, that’s so exciting! Yes, take a laptop. You can make your friends exchange laptop-carrying duties for internet access to spread the load. Also, try NOT to check a bag. Shampoos can be bought where ever you are, and it’s so nice to have your stuff with you all the time.

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