Our Culture of Music

By Adalyn Richards

Our Rayah group is a lot of things. We are a tight-knit, adventurous, international (thanks, Cole!) group with a sarcastic sense of humor. We collectively speak 7 languages: English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, and Hawaiian. And we may or may not have a benign addiction to chocolate-covered digestive cookies from Spain. But snack preferences aside, we are also a fairly musical group.

Despite our hefty travels on the Camino de Santiago and our upcoming Atlas Mountain treks, we carry with us a guitar, a fiddle, a tin whistle (otherwise known as the penny whistle… but it’s semantics), a sun-powered speaker, and a $15 mp3 player from Walmart (but don’t worry—I’m sure all of the music was legally downloaded… right, Emily?). In our small but mighty group of eight, we also have six singers and a beatboxer. Plus, Nate tried to play an abandoned accordion once, but that didn’t go too well.

Thus far, we have had our fair share of jam sessions, whether they be on hostel rooftops at midnight, in yoga studios along the Spanish coast, or around a bonfire during a traditional Mexican cocoa ceremony. We’ve collaborated with an Israeli harmonicist, a Spanish sitar player, and singer specializing in classical Indian music. Leighton and Nate have also shared with us their improvisational songwriting, often singing about their heritage and masterfully reworking American classics like the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Yesterday alone, we saw multiple drum circles in the souk here in Marrakech, and Leighton taught a fellow hostel-goer a song on the ukulele.

While definitely not the focus of this trip, music has positively informed many of our experiences across Morocco and Spain. It has catalyzed many magical moments and brought us closer to each other and to travelers around us. Unanimously, we are absolutely appreciative of the culture of music that we’ve created and look forward to even more wonderful moments of harmonizing, strumming, and tin whistling (even if it is incontestably the most annoying instrument on this trip… thanks again, Cole).