Chattanooga Now In Tune: Phone-free and Africa-bound for two weeks

Chattanooga Now In Tune: Phone-free and Africa-bound for two weeks

May 15th, 2014 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Outabout

If you're reading this, then to very reluctantly quote The Eagles, "I'm already gone."

To Morocco.

For two weeks.

My girlfriend and I have been waiting for this vacation for months. We've been scouring the pages of our guidebooks dreaming of exotic places like Fes and Merzouga, Casablanca and Ait Benhaddou.

In college, we both spent semesters abroad in Europe, but somehow this feels like more of an adventure, even if it's just an 11-day tour instead of gallivanting around on our own for months at a time.

How could this not be more exciting?

There's an undeniable grandeur to Europe, with its soaring cathedrals scowling down with stained-glass disapproval on oenophiles sipping chardonnay at streetside cafes.

But Morocco? It's Africa. End of story.

Fair or not, Westerners are raised to think of Africa as a place somehow apart. It's the land of Tarzan and Indiana Jones. It's Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." Where we're going, there will be camels and snake charmers. If we walked far enough in the right direction, we'd see lions and pyramids. Also they have a little desert called the Sahara.

Compared to that, Europe is about as exciting as Branson, Mo.

As a result, we've both been at fever pitch for a while now. I've been able to smell the saffron and mint tea so clearly and for so long that I've long since mentally checked out. For months, my brain has been wandering the twisting, almost absurdly colorful maze of stalls in Marrakech's Jemaa el Fna market square.

Yet for all Morocco's innate exotic appeal, one of the things that should make this excursion even more exhilarating is that I'm leaving my phone behind.

Willfully disconnecting myself from the mobile masses was a calculated decision on my part, one motivated as much by the ludicrous price we were quoted for sending international text messages -- 50 cents a pop! -- as it was a feeling that, like many avid techies in our phone-obsessed culture, my phone and I were becoming all too familiar.

So for two weeks, I'll be freed from Facebook notifications, and my hand can take a break from the constant wild-goose chase into my pocket after phantom text vibrations. Instead of tweeting my experiences, I'm taking a leather-bound journal and a pen. I'll have my camera, but Instagram will just have to wait until I get back.

It may be tough, but the lack of access will help. I mean, Morocco probably doesn't have Internet cafes, right?

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.