Labyrinths, exotic spices, too many tour guides and not enough beer
10/9/08 - 10/15/08
We arrived in the port of Tangier by taking a 3 hour ferry, and almost got sent straight back to Spain. It was a beautiful day, and we decided to spend the ferry ride on the top deck enjoying the views of the ocean and the coastline. Upon arriving in the port, we descended to the area where everyone else was lining up to disembark the ship. A middle aged gentleman in brown pants and a checked shirt approached us, and started asking us about our passport stamps, and if we still needed to get them. We did not have out passports stamped yet, of course, as we had been sunbathing on the top deck, and had assumed we would be going through customs on land (like one might expect). So now the man asks to see our passports. R cautiously hands him his, and the man starts flipping through it. Now he asks for mine. Being the suspcious person I am, I asked to see identification (no badge, no uniform, what would you do? But R says I am trying to justify...) He looked at me (mere female questioning male authority in Muslim country), slammed R's passport back in his hand, and stormed off like a 5 year old in a temper tantrum.
Sadly, he really was the passport stamper guy, and R and I spent the next hour sadly looking over the rail of the boat at all the happy people who had successfully made it to land. Homeboy must have gone home to have lunch, b/c he left us on the boat for an hour until he came back and stamped our passports (but I had to apologize first). So, travel lesson number one: do not spend entire ferry rides sunbathing, pay attention to what other people who know what they are doing are doing.
Now that I have vented, Morocco has been amazing. We went to a small mountain town called Chefchaoen first, and wandered around getting lost in the winding maze of the medina, which is a walled off section of town where the mosques are. This town was set in the Rif mountains, and all the streets sloped up or down, and never went straight ahead for more than 30 meters or so. All the buildings were smooth white cement with different shades of blue doors and walls. Venders were selling bags and spices and cloths and dried fruits and nuts, and at night the streets were lit up by lanterns. We had amazing food for ridiculously good prices. Our fave meal was a dinner in a nice restaurant called the Magic Lantern where we had a lamb/prune/almond tagine and an excellent couscous dish with mint tea and dessert - for a total of about $14.
Then we moved on to Fes, which is a bit like the above but much bigger, crazier, flatter, and not as quaint. But this is where we found our street meat, and we have been feasting on BBQ's kabobs in pitas, and of course mint tea. (No alcohol allowed in the medina, the country is 99% Muslim).
Here we wandered for hours getting lost, snapping photos, and trying to fend off the faux tour guides who stick to you like a barnacle no matter how adamant you are that you want to walk on your own. Fortunately, this is only at the very touristy areas in the medina or we might not have hair left from pulling it out in frustration.
Tomorrow we are off to Marrakesh. Who knows what we'll find there???