Black Skies Over Morocco

Janna Schuette essays

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My husband was sound asleep in the back of our camper. He had had been sleeping most of the day as he had caught a vicious stomach flu from surfing in contaminated water off the coast of Morocco. We were on our way north on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco and had found a small campsite outside of what seemed to be an almost deserted town. It was a good place to stop for a night and for my husband to get some much needed rest.

I spent the day exploring with our two young girls, Saylor and Svea, and did my very best to keep them out of the camper. We watched a brave surfer take on the big swell as he was towed in by a jet ski. We saw hundreds of camels grazing on the hill side. We sipped on smoothies at a small cafe. While the kids were still full of energy, I had run out of steam and it was time to hike back to the camper.

It was getting later in the day and I felt like I needed a quick break. Just a few moments of silence as I was about to prepare dinner. I woke my husband up and asked if he had the energy to take the girls outside and of course he said yes. If there was one thing my husband understood well on this trip it was my need for a break here and there to keep me sane.

I started cooking and had my mandatory glass of red wine while enjoying the silence. I managed to have dinner ready and the table set in lightning speed thinking they would come back anytime. It had been 30 minutes and no sign of my family. Little did I know my husband was planning on giving me some extra alone time. I was now getting worried and went outside to see if I could see or hear them but there was nothing. At the same time, the blue skies were now getting dramatically darker and out of nowhere there was a thunder that made me jump. Instantly the sky opened up and the rain started pouring down while the thunder and lightning kept getting worse by the second. I  was completely soaked in just a minute.

I imagined how scared the girls would be right now as my own heart was starting to beat faster and faster. I had this feeling that something was wrong and also knew that my husband was weak. I started to run up and down the campsite, then up and down the beach and the cliffs desperately trying to find them. It was getting cold and the dirt trails were turning into muddy streams. I stopped for a minute at the highest peak along the ocean and looked as far as I could towards the town and then up the coastline. I had to decide in which direction to run first.

Finally, I spotted something familiar as I was looking towards town. Something pink and round was moving slowly on the street. I focused in and realized that it was one of the girl’s umbrellas and that all three of them were huddled under it slowly walking my way. Knowing the road ended and it was a trough trail to the campsite, I started running as fast as I could to help. The rain was coming down harder and the wind picked up. The water was gushing down the hills and it was hard to get footing, slipping in the mud as I was running down the trail.

When I made it down to the trail that connected to the road they were on, I could hear my daughters crying. My husband was slowly walking with water running down his face, carrying Svea and holding Saylor’s hand while trying to cover them with a kids umbrella. They both look scared and cold but Saylor kept walking as my husband didn’t have the strength to carry both at the same time. Without saying a word I quickly grabbed my over 40 pound 5-year-old like a baby in my arms. She felt light like a feather. I knew my husband would be better off carrying our much smaller 3-year-old. I didn’t say a word, not wasting a second, as I started running back towards the camper.

The water coming down the trail, that was actually a flash flood, had now become a river. I was able to lift Saylor up onto a rock that was still above water at the steepest part of the trail and then managed climb up myself to help my husband and Svea up. I held on to the girls as tight as I could. Everyone was not only drench in water but also completely covered in mud. Saylor kept screaming that she was cold and scared while I did my best to calm her as we made our way back. The bright lightning and loud thunder were simultaneous at this point.

As we made it back to the camper, I quickly ripped their clothes off at the stairs so I  could get them inside and under our warm bed covers. I felt like the worst mom asking my sick husband to take them out, just so I could get a break. At the same time, I was amazed by the strength that I felt when my adrenaline kicked in. I could have kept running with Saylor in my arms forever.

While we were all shaken and the storm had taken all of us by surprise, all I said to the girls as I was holding them tight was, “Wasn’t that a crazy cool adventure!”

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About the Author

Janna Schuette

Janna Schuette is a wife and mother of her two daughters Saylor 5 and Svea 3. Janna grew up in Sweden and moved to the USA in her early twenties. She spent 12 years working for Google and recently went on a European Adventure with her family and spent 4 months in Sweden and 8 months on the road exploring Europe and Africa in a camper. Janna doesn’t consider herself a writer, though kept a blog of the family’s adventure called “Fun & Chaos” at .

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