DofE Gold for John Bennet
Recently John Bennett travelled to Morocco as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. This is his report …
This summer I spent two weeks in the Atlas mountains of northern Morocco as part of my gold Duke of Edinburgh award. This award requires participants to volunteer within their communities as well as showing prolonged interest in a skill based activity such as drama and a sporting activity of some kind. Finally an expedition must be undertaken.
At the gold level participants are also required to participate in a residential section. To complete this and our expedition we flew to the Atlas Mountains to spend a week living with and spending time amongst the local Berber people of the region.
This allowed us to experience some of the local food which was colourful, in both taste and appearance as we made our own disc breads and ‘tageen’ (vegetable stew). We also helped with the construction of a wall around the local school where the children are taught how to read, write and count in both Berber and French. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the culture, even if it meant being woken up at 4 o’ clock each day by the calls to prayer and has certainly broadened my perception and appreciation of essentials such as clean water that we all too often take for granted.
We then embarked on our expedition which took us 4 days up mountain sides and through valleys. Throughout the trek we had to carry our tents and cooking equipment as well as our clothes and food. We also had to find and purify our own water as we trekked and despite some hard days we were all successful. The trek itself left us at about 3000 metres at the base of Toubkal, the largest mountain in North Africa, higher than any mountain in Europe. At this altitude any physical exertion was exhausting but even the altitude sickness didn’t stop us from enjoying the view out across the Moroccan flats from the summit at some 4200 metres and the amazing feeling of our achievement.
Our final days were spent in Marakech haggling with traders in the souks and enjoying a victory dinner in an authentic Moroccan restaurant.
Overall the experience was something I would highly recommend and would happily do again regardless of the blisters and slight sunburn.