Monday, 8 September 2014

Day 126: Day trip to Tangiers, Morocco, Africa - Mon 8 Sept

Day 126: Day trip to Tangiers, Morocco, Africa - Mon 8 Sept
Yay – “Out Of Africa” day today! Taxi to Tarifa port. Caught fast ferry of 35mins (took 65mins!). Took off into Levant fog through Straits of Gibraltar, had passport check and visa stamps in long queues on-board, then arrived Tangiers, Morocco, our 16th country and most southerly point of GlobalTrek 2014!!
Goodbye Europe - Hello Africa!

Lighthouse looming out of Levant fog


Morocco's coastline appearing

Walking out, were picked up by city guide with offer of 100€ for day of air-conditioned car plus walking tour of old city. We agreed as we had no other option to make the most of our one day in Africa, our 4th continent! Mejid (“Magic”) was a very good guide, excellent English (learned in school exchange in America), reasonable pace, places we wouldn't have dared wander by ourselves, and he kept beggars and potentially harassing sellers at bay.  With our driver Muhammad took us up into hills and new city, summer palace of president, home of mayor, summer houses of celebrities (eg Barbara Hutton) and wealthy expats (eg Omega), guards, gardeners, camels and eucalyptus trees.

Poor Mamma, ouchy knees....

Morning tea (hot refreshing local mint tea and sweet bread with honey and goats cheese) at Gran Cafe de Paris, featuring in Bourne Ultimatum as well as scenes running through nearby tenements, along rooftops, and jumping over narrow alleyways. 

Trees painted white to deter insects


Tuareg/ Berber woman

Followed Mejid on foot down back streets and into tenements, to the little souk. The Grand Socco is the entrance to the Medina old city, a large palm-ringed plaza with a central fountain that stands before the keyhole gate Bab Fass. Looked at shopfront of marriage arranger with its photos of successful happy couples (who were very very young…). Walked through Petit Socco.Tourists not allowed into any mosque, including Grand Mosque, women's and men's are segregated. 

Grand Socco

Grand Mosque

Marriage Arranger shop

No idea- and don't want to find out.....

Walked around outside of St Andrews Church (apparently the interior “is in Moorish style, with no graven images, the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic, has a cleft that indicates the direction of Mecca, and contains carved quotes from the Quran - an interfaith experience”…) In the graveyard are wartime headstones, including a fighter pilot shot while escaping (which reads ‘Good Hunting, Tim’) and entire downed aircrews, headstones attached shoulder to shoulder.

Gravestones of aircrew killed together

What a vibrant, busy, crowded, smelly, dirty city it is - shops around every turn, bazaars or goods spread on plastic on steps, in carts, on boards being carried (remote devices, cigarettes, belts, jewellery, caftans, tissues). Food Markets had fruit and vegetables mixed up with spices and live poultry and rabbits. Fish market was much better with goods off street on high tables packed with ice. Meat was already killed (spied a box of chicken feet and beaks on floor with cat stalking them) or killed live while you watched to suit needs of halal. Mejid said cats were so prolific because they were mentioned in Koran therefore protected. Mejid is Muslim, and said everyone except Shi-ites get along well with Christians and Jews in Africa compared to the fighting in other countries. 

Hmm, no thanks....


Tuareg/ Berber woman




Its a cat's life (in Morocco anyway)

Back-to-back loom weavers making scarves, sarongs, rugs, some two-story workshops in one boxy room. Heard of blue Indigo people, women who dye cloth blue, wear blue and have tribal and family tattoos and symbols for weaving. Berbers (Barbarian) free people Tuaregs were original people, women wear rafia hats with bright fluffy baubles, maybe a head veil underneath, long skirts and no face veils. 


2-story workshop in 1-story room

We were inveigled into an Ali Baba den-cum-carpet shop with beautifully patterned mosaic tiles on ceilings and walls. It was full of brass/silver jars, bowls, oil lamps, leadlights, chests, trinket boxes, vases, urns, figurines, jewellery and pottery. We were given delicious traditional mint tea, shown impressive? oppressive? view from rooftops, and somehow we ended up buying a beautiful Kilim ("women's diary")/flat tapestry woven rug made by hand by Berbers, weaving technique weft and warp so tight no pile, largely geometric patterns suggesting hills and desert. (Editors note: Given it was in Australia by the time we got home and livened up our room immeasurably, there were no eventual regrets about the cost....

Ali Baba's treasure cave

Yes, the choice is made!
Get your eyes off our rug Boomers!

Lunched in small restaurant with no menu, served vegetable soup then delicious saffron croquette with sweet flaky crust, then tangine of chicken and vegetables on cous cous. Outside Medina we toured Kasbah museum in Dar el-Makhzen, the former sultan’s palace and fortress. Its focus is on history, prehistoric to 19th century; exhibits include pre-Roman tools; sculpture featuring a bacchanalian feast; 16th-century jewellery; floor mosaic from Volubilis. We concluded in the once-exotic Sultan’s Garden, sad that the country does not have money? inclination? to restore and maintain this historical resource.before viewpoints over harbour.

Such intricate wall dressing

Trade routes past and present
Floor mosaic

Intricate carved ceiling detail





New breakwater under construction


Ann was reminded of her twin granddaughters at home

Final walk back to harbour through bazaar. Back on ferry in dwindling light. Sagrado Corazon de Jesus statue at entrance to Tarifa port. We were tired but quite satisfied with our taste of Africa. Our tour was cheaper and more personalized than the bus tours with similar itinerary (if you forget the shopping!!). Took quite a while before anyone realised our travel insurance hadn’t actually covered this continent though…

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