Monday, January 30, 2012

My First & Last Day in Tangier, Morocco

The entire day that I was in Tangier I kept thinking 'I can't wait to write a blog about this.' I know, I'm obsessed right? But so many friends and family members have told me that they are living vicariously through my blog, so I try to make it as real and exciting as possible. But with that being said, for as excited as I was to write this post, now that I'm thinking about it I have absolutely no idea how to go about it.

My experience in Tangier was utterly unique. I've heard lots of different reactions from people who have been to Morocco, and Tangier seems to be by far the most controversial. Some people have loved it, the whole hustle-and-bustle craziness of it, and others have hated it. All of the Spaniards who found out that I was going said "...but why?" Tangier is known for being a dirty port city, where people go not because they want to, but because they have to stop through on the way to bigger and better places. (Kind of like Algeciras.)

It's much prettier than Algeciras though, that's for sure.

So with all that being said, here are some of the highlights and lowlights of my day there.
  • I got seriously sea-sick on the ferry ride over. It was hell.
  • To get to the actual city of Tangier from the port of Tangier takes about an hour by bus. The second we stopped off the bus in the middle of the city, we were accosted by people trying to convince us that we needed a local tour guide. One guy followed us for a solid 15 minutes before we were able to shrug him off. During these 10 minutes he said 'Fuck you!' to Eli and then when we continued to tell him to go away he said "did I offend you? I didn't mean it, I'm sorry. But you need a tour guide. I'm your tour guide." No dude, you're not. Seriously, go away.
  • Since we were there during the off-season at the end of January, we felt like we were the only tourists in the city. And Eli's blonde hair attracted the stares of every Moroccan within a mile radius.
  • I was honestly scared to take pictures for most of the time we were there. Whipping out my large black 20x-zoom Sony camera just seemed so...wrong. However I managed to come to terms with my guilt and got a couple good pictures in anyway.
The medina, or main square.
  • We tried to shake off a wanna-be guide in the medina but unfortunately ran into him twice more when we were exploring the souk on our own. We really did try to be nice about it at first, but finally had to resort to speed-walking and cutting corners to get rid of him. 
  • Then we got a whirlwind tour of the souk from a 10 year old kid. Shaking off kid guides is soooo much harder than it is when they are older and creepier. So instead we followed him through the twisty-windy streets until we rounded a corner into a group of 7 Moroccan teens, leering and laughing at us. This is when we insisted to the kid that we didn't want to go who knows where he was taking us, and we needed to go back to the Medina. I wanted to trust that this cute little kid wouldn't lead us into any dangerous situations, but honestly, I couldn't. 

  • We somehow picked up a second kid tour guide, who seamlessly fit himself in with our group. The two of them took us to the most gorgeous look out point, which made up for the fact that we were going to have to pay them for their time.
  • After tiring of the craziness of the Souk, we high-tailed it out to sit in a restaurant for the next 2 1/2 hours before the bus left to go back to the port. 

  • We lucked out and found the most delicious Moroccan restaurant, where we got chicken tangin, couscous, spaghetti (haha oops not Moroccan) and amazing fruit salad. It was the best meal I've had in a while.

  • Then we spent 4 hours waiting in the port, since we didn't feel like waiting around the city after dark.
I have no idea how to sum how wild of the day we had. I'd been to Marrakech before, with 3 other girls, and so I'd experienced the craziness of the Souk, of being an American in a country where you're not respected in the least, and of feeling completely out of place in a country primarily dominated by men. However Tangier...was completely unique. The two friends that I traveled with completely hated the city, and so I'm not sure how much of my memory of the day and of my opinions of the city were changed by listening to how they felt.

I guess I'm just indifferent. I don't think I would ever willingly go back. I don't feel the need to see that particular city again, but I would love to go back to other parts of Morocco.

Sorry if this post is a little lacking, I just honestly don't really know what to say about it.

So I'll end it with a funny story that happened while we were waiting around for the bus to take us from the port building down to where we had to board the ship:

We had been waiting in the building since 9pm, and where told that a bus would come to take us down to the ferry at 11, and that the ferry would leave at midnight. At 11:30 we were still waiting, although we had seen at least 3 empty buses pull up outside the building, wait a few minutes, and then drive off, still empty. (Ummm waste of gas anyone??) 

It had been a very long day, we were tired, and we just wanted to go home. //And we might have been slightly delirious from lack of sleep.// Finally we decided to go outside and wait in the cold, because "I'll be damned if another bus drives off without us on it". Or, as Eli so eloquently put it, "we'll be like those sticky-fingered geckos, plastered to the side of the bus."

In between fits of laughter, with tears running down my face, trying to resist the urge to sit down and bury my face in my hands while I shook with laughter, I managed to choke out "Cling-ons!" which sent Eli into the same state I was in. The rest of the Spanish/Moroccan crowd probably looked on in disgust, as the three Americans laughed loud and hard. I'm okay with that.

And after we finally got on the bus, I had to look anywhere except out the windows because all I could picture were the 3 of us, leaping from the sidewalk to cling-on the windows with our sticky fingers.

Goodbye Tangier, I'm glad we ended the day on a good note, but I hope I never see you again.

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