Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quest for the Kasbah by Richard Bangs

I recently had the pleasure of reading Quest for the Kasbah by Richard Bangs.  As I became lost in the Moroccan adventure of the first few chapters, I could have sworn that I, myself, had written parts of this journey.  Although no two trips are ever identical, it seems as though we might have come quite close.

Bangs describes a remarkable journey juxtaposing past and present day lifestyles as well as Morocco and the western world.  As the true definition of a melting pot, Morocco blends languages, people, and nationalities to boast the epitome of a deeply rooted culture.  Through his insightful journey, Bangs has set his ultimate goal as creating a modern day definition of the word, 'kasbah'.  

Formerly known as a safe haven for all types of people, the kasbah was a place where people could meet, talk, exchange ideas, share traits and treats, and form true connections with actual strangers.  He raises the over-arching question of how technology in the western world has impaired our abilities to form bonds with distant people.  Virtually anywhere, we can access the virtual world.  We've transcended into digital nomads that define a different, and perhaps less intriguing and respected, way of adventure.  Internet connections, cell phones, digital cameras, and other advanced forms of technology have enabled us to grasp and share information with ease.  Conversely, they've also allowed us to alienate ourselves from a life and a world that offers tremendous adventure.

Just last weekend, I was on a train from San Diego to Los Angeles to visit a friend, and nearly everyone around me was either speaking on a cell phone, engrossed in a dvd by way of a computer, or intensely listening to an ipod.. myself included.  These should be opportunities that afford us the chance of creating an everlasting bond with a stranger.  Although the development of media communications has provided us with the opportunity to make our worlds larger, it has also detrimentally affected the way that we personally interact with one another.

Throughout his journey, Bangs is able to recount sensory experiences from his trip.  He vividly depicts the environment, scenery, culture and pride of Morocco and its inhabitants.  While technology is accessible in this country, it is not the way of life.  Most of Morocco's inhabitants have chosen to live the way their ancestors did 800 years ago.  For them, simplicity, consistency, adventure, family, friends, and love define a fulfilling way of life.  Taking each day as it comes and relishing in all that it has to offer represents what is important to these people.  

During our trip to Morocco, I remember our guide, Driss, preaching to us about how Americans rarely seize an opportunity impulsively.  We're so focused on saving and planning that we often let experiences slip by us unnoticed.  I undoubtedly owe part of my decision to move to the west coast to Driss and his wisdom.

By the end of his journey, Bangs comes to understand the kasbah as a secure place that welcomes with open arms the cultures and ways of different groups of people.  It is still a melting pot.  It is still a place where all people can come to share ideas and celebrate the interconnectedness of man.

Quest for the Kasbah by Richard Bangs was published by Open Road Publishing, a leading travel guide publisher based in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.  An enlightening journey of intertwining life lessons, Bangs's expedition is a must-read for anyone with a passion for adventure, history, and culture.

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