Thursday 24 May 2012

Because We Can - Tangier, Morocco

As the most southerly region in Spain, Andalucia also happened to be the closest we would get to Africa this trip. So when someone randomly joked about hopping over to another continent we immediately thought, well heck, why not?! So Jude was to get another set of immigration stamps on her passport.

Jude in a Hat. On the way to Morocco
Slipping past the rock of Gibraltar, we offloaded the car on the Spanish side into Tarifa's ferry carpark, where we boarded the early morning ferry bound for Tangier, Morocco. Fresh off the boat, we somehow ended up in the hands of local guide Mustafa and his driver friend Fayed. As we headed out towards the city, Mustafa quickly pointed out that some celebrity was on the ferry with us. "Some American," he said, "Lenny Kravitz I think." "Really?" We were skeptical, but sure enough, at the next set of lights the aforementioned man was reclining in the passenger seat of the car next to us. As you do! We grinned and shrugged, as I spent the rest of the day trying to get the song Fly Away out of my head.

Moroccan Heat - The Medina, Tangier
Mustafa was rattling off historic dates, pointing out French, Spanish and Arabian influenced buildings, remarking upon famous people's mansions ("and to your left is the house of the Prince of Saudi Arabia …"), but we were too dazzled by the fact that we were in Africa! A quick caffeine and carbohydrate stop put us back on track, and we headed towards the retail pastures of the Old Medina of Tangier.

Spot the Satellite Dish - The Old Medina, Tangier
For this was the pull that Tangier had for Europeans - a dusty city of bazaars where hustlers abounded, haggling was expected, and tour guides were in the business of collecting sales commission. But instead of getting us down, this just put us back into the exciting vibe of Southeast Asia again, except with very Moroccan sights, sounds and smells filling the air.

Beautiful Door and Lamps - The Medina, Tangier
Welcoming Colours on a Door - The Medina, Tangier
Light and Shadows on Houses - The Medina, Tangier
Graffiti on the Wall - The Medina, Tangier
White Walls and Ramparts - The Medina, Tangier
Morocco on Shoe Strings - The Medina, Tangier
Khubz (Moroccan Round Flat Bread) - The Medina, Tangier
Spices, Grains, Peas and Beans - The Medina, Tangier
An average, but substantial lunch of traditional Moroccan dishes sustained us during the ensuing marathon around the Medina streets.

Mint Tea - The Medina, Tangier
Pastilla - The Medina, Tangier
Chicken and Vegetable Tagine - The Medina, Tangier
This day was my first experience souvenir shopping with Shilo. I was quite surprised to discover this other side of my mother-in-law, as Shilo's pile of Moroccan carpets, shoes and other trinkets grew bigger and bigger in happy defiance of the threat of airline excess baggage fees. However I couldn't help but agree that she got some pretty good deals, as we all discovered the wicked joys of haggling again, and found that the walkaway trick still works (sometimes).

Lantern Light. While getting hustled by carpet sellers - The Medina, Tangier
Back on the boat to Spain that afternoon, a little heavier but a lot happier.

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