Sunday, November 15
I am behind on my blog, as you already know. I really wanted to keep it current but it hasn’t been possible. I will just continue to post when I can and I will finish blogging about our holiday after we get home if need be.
We are still in shock over the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. I spent a month in Paris last fall and it holds a special place in my heart. ‘My’ neighbourhood was just north of where the Bataclan Theatre is located. Having a connection, even one as remote as this, makes these attacks seem a little bit closer than they may have been otherwise. It is scary and I can’t help but wonder where it will all end. We check the internet for updates and try to figure out the Spanish news on TV.
Today we have a day trip booked for Morocco so we catch a 10:00 bus to take us to the ferry at Tarifa on the southern corner of Spain. This is Tarifa looking out from the ferry.
Before long we are in Morocco! This is the third time we have been to Africa. We have traveled from the East to the West coast of South Africa on a train called the Shongololo Express and we have spent a couple weeks in Egypt. Bob really wanted to go to Morocco, I wasn’t so sure. Egypt was quite challenging and we had lots of difficulties and I wonder if Morocco will be a similar situation. This is our first glimpse of the city of Tangier, Morocco from the ferry.The tour we booked is excellent. There are only five of us in our group and we have a guide and a driver. We first drive through the city to get an idea of what Tangier is like and we are surprised by how beautiful the city is. It is clean and it has lots of trees and flowers planted along the roads. We are shown an area with palaces for Kings from Morocco and royalty from several other countries. Then we drive along the ocean to Cap Spartel, which is Africa’s most north westerly promontory, and see the place where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Oceans meet. There are street vendors here but they are no where near as aggresive as the ones we had encountered in Egypt.
Our next stop was an unexpected surprise. For just 2€ we have a camel ride! When we were in Egypt I wanted to ride a camel but it never worked out. Today I get my camel ride!
Next stop, the Caves of Hercules. These were several really big caverns and if you look closely you can make out where round disks were cut from the rock to be used as mill stones. There is also an opening in one of the caves that is the shape of the continent of Africa in reverse.On the way back into town we were almost in a car accident. A car came within inches of crashing into the side of our van right where I was sitting. I think that the driver’s wife was in labour, she looked very pregnant and very scared and her husband was driving like a crazy man! We were very lucky that he managed to stop before hitting us. Once back in the town, we spend a couple hours on a walking tour through the medina in the old town of Tangier. The streets are narrow and twist and turn in all directions. Our guide also shows us a couple places that were used as sets in the Bourne Ultimatum movie and the new James Bond movie.
Without a guide we would have been hopelessly lost. One area’s buildings were all painted a bright blue colour.
We stop in a Spice shop where a young man, who tells us he is a trained massage therapist, convinces us to buy a special oil that is good for aches and pains. Bob gets a hand massage to try it out.
While we have our lunch at a local restaurant these musicians provide the background music.After our meal we check out the local veggie and fruit markets. The ladies in the interesting costumes and hats are from the hill towns outside Tangier. They dress in their traditional costumes to come to market twice a week. We buy the biggest pomegranate we have ever seen for 1€. I think it must be hard to make a living selling produce. Some farmers just have a small table, or a cloth on the ground with a few items for sale.
The shops are very tiny, sometimes just a few feet square and we see a couple shops that bake bread for the locals in wood fired ovens for a few cents a loaf.
We also visit a fabric shop and I buy a shawl. I am sure I paid too much for it as I am not a very good bargainer!
Finally, we visit the once grand Continental Hotel. Many famous people and movie stars have stayed here but it does not appear to be doing all that well now. We sit on the balcony just to the right of the red flag in the picture below, overlooking the Mediterranean sea and have mint tea and chat with our guide and one of the other fellows on the tour. He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Italian but we both managed to communicate in French and our guide speaks to us in English and to our new Italian friend in Spanish! We talk about life in Morocco and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Flags in Tangier are flying at half mast because of this.
It is a long day by the time we get back to Tafira and then we still have a bus ride back to our car in Algacires. We don’t get home until almost ten, but we were both quite impressed by Tangier and I think I would be willing to spend more time in Morocco some day.