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Visiting Tangier, Morocco from Spain

Posted by on October 27, 2011

Morocco_flagThis was one trip that I could not pass up which was go to Africa for the first time and arrive in Morocco. There were daily trips from Spain to Morocco on these special organized transportation adventures so I figured that I should do at least one of them despite how super-touristy this was. Obviously, it was a sign-up and pay and provide passport information and then on that day of departure, it was hop on a bus and get on the ferry to cross the Strait of Gibraltar… and then bam, it was Morocco. Morocco is quite an interesting country being that the French and Spanish have both invaded and made a colony out of the country resulting in a mix of Arab, Berber, and European cultures. There are many people in Morocco that can speak French and/or Spanish due to its historical lineage and even continues today because of economic importance of being bi-lingual or even tri-lingual.

Pier of Tangier, Morocco

Ah, finally, Africa... the pier of Tangier, Morocco lies forward

I’ve been asked questions about going to Morocco and what it was like out there and I have to say I felt it was quite Europeanized but also not all the way there. There were plenty of modernized buildings and well-paved roads with plenty of signs in French, English, and Spanish but at the same time, there were dirty, damaged roads, poor people walking around, trash and feral dogs everywhere, and homes that wouldn’t exactly inspire a rich person to stay around. It was still interesting to say the least especially coming from Spain. The only issue I had was the fact that it took a long time to get there! It took about 2-3 hours by bus and ferry even with the specialized tours streamlining the immigration process. And then once I was there it was a relaxing time on the bus with a German, English, Spanish, Arabic speaking guide. Yes, this guy spoke 4 languages! We made plenty of stops in and around Tangier to partake in its culture.

Camel in Morocco

The people were offering a 1-2 minute camel rides for 1 Euro which I thought to myself, nope, no thanks. That camel will probably bite and spit on me.

Overall, I didn’t think very much of it while other people did since it was the first time they ever saw poverty. I would have to believe they couldn’t imagine how people lived like that but after going to South America, I sure can. I do have to make the comparison that Tangier’s Medina has a lot of similarities with Brazil’s favelas. Both are like mazes in which you go in, you might not get out without a guide leading the way. Both can also be very dangerous, probably more so in Brazil even though Tangier also had an old reputation of whatever happens, happens.

Tall mosque in Tangier, Morocco

This Mosque in Tangier, Morocco might look neat but there are parts where it's not great.

I recommend buying some of the crafts if you’re that type of person and there were plenty of stores and shops to fill a buyer’s impulse need to fulfill it. We even went in a carpet shop as well as a spices shop but I didn’t buy anything (I’m not a materialistic person nor into the spices/herbs stuff). Plus, we always had a flock of wares sellers following our group at all times trying to make a sale. It was really interesting because there were so many grown-up men trying to sell something while as in South America, it was generally some kid trying to sell me something. I generally just ignore them unless I got one right in my face to which a simple, “Dejame en paz!” will make them understand to leave me alone. However, if you are going to buy something, make sure you haggle down the price (you’ll won’t get anywhere with a street seller). Speaking some French or Spanish will help greatly as well especially if you talk to a shop keeper who is basically standing outside of his store or souk. He is more likely to do make something happen for you.

But for me, I don’t care much for souvenirs, I was more into the food. The great part about this trip was going to an actual authentic Moroccan restaurant, one that didn’t rip us off or made us sick. They served some type of bread, soup, kebab meat, and tea. It was really good and some people even remarked that they couldn’t eat it. Some wondered how I could eat all of it and my response was “I’ve eaten guinea pig in Peru – how much different can it be from this?” I probably grossed them out even more but whatever. Food is food.

Restaurant in Tangier, Morocco

Here I was hanging out in the restaurant eating great food

All in all, I thought of the entire thing as a good educational trip where I can say that I have gone to Africa even though most people associate the word, Africa, with jungles, savannahs, lions, hippos, tribal warfare, etc. But geographically, Morocco is in the continent of Africa so technically I can say that I have been there. It would have been nice to stay longer in the country and check out the sand dunes and maybe even go to Rabat or Casablanca, two other well-known cities of Morocco, but oh well, life is tough.

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