Trip to Tangier

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Wow…after a lloooonnnnggg break, I’m back!  I’ve been meaning to get this post up for a good long time now.  On one hand I didn’t feel too bad about it because after all, it is Nanowrimo (only the greatest time of year!). But after nearly a month of not updating, and my putting it off twice after continuously getting sick, I decided I could no longer hide behind my tissues.  It’s time to write! (well…write more that is. Still gotta keep up my word count!)

Our last stop on my Erin/Sam Adventure was a day trip to Tangier, Morocco!  This was exciting, because again, not only a new country to see, but also my first time on the African Continent.  I am now officially beating Mister S for number of continents we’ve been on (I am also two country ahead of him now ^^).

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The start of our day involved waking up at an ungodly Spanish hour of 5:30am.  We had to walk to the checkpoint and be there by 6am, and it was about a 15 minute walk or so.  The streets were completely bare!  Even the 24/7 pharmacy was closed.  We were rather dejected to find that not only was Costa Coffee not open that early…McDonalds was also closed!!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a McDonalds closed in a city.  Granted this was in a Spanish city were things didn’t open until 10am usually, we were still both quite saddened that there was no coffee and breakfast sandwiches to hurry us on our way.

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We met up with the first few people in our group and started on our way.  It took nearly forever to get from Point A (being our pick-up stop) to Point B (the ferry).  We had to go and travel to all the other pick up points before finally getting on our way.  It took nearly 3 hours all said and done.  Still starving, Erin and I picked up some breakfast from the Ferry stop.  Our tour guide took all of our passports to get the visas finalized.  He then returned them along with our ferry tickets.  Now, instead of taking the time to find the tickets that matched our passports, he handed them out at random.  I desperately wish that I had been clever enough to note what my name was.  It was quite a humorous exchange with all of us in the group trying to find out who we all were now.

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Finally we were on the Ferry and travelling between Tarifa and Tangiers.  Now, you should know something about me…You put me in a moving vehicle and you are going to get one of two reactions: One – I fall asleep almost instantaneously, or Two – I get sick.  I am a Grade-A motion sickness wuss.  Heck, I get it by simply sitting in the back seat of a car driving in a city, forget about driving around bends and curves.  And boats and me don’t fare much better.  I’m the kind of gal who gets queasy sitting going on a water ferry for 5 minutes, let alone any extended mark of time.  So I spent the hour and half on the ferry feeling awful and standing out in the sea spray desperately breathing in fresh air and trying to stay cool.  It reminded me of when my family and I took the giant ferry between Hawaiian Islands.  I think I will remain train and jet set, thank you very much.

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At long last we finally arrived at the ferry.  Our tour guide quickly ushered us towards our bus and the tour began!  I didn’t manage to get too many photos as they toured us through the different areas of the city thanks to the dirty bus windows and my camera’s inability to focus on moving objects.  The tour moved very quickly.

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Our first stop involved getting to see the lighthouse above.  There were already men there with wares for sale.  I remember the little camels from when my parents and two sisters went to Morocco nearly two years ago.  My sister Ashley brought home a herd.

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There were a few boys who had brought some goats along to entertain the tourists, but everyone was more intrigued by the little kid.  I saw our tour guide press a few coins into the hand of one of the boys who had the animals, and they let him pick it up and pass it around and be pet.  My friend Erin got her picture with the baby goat.  I was still feeling pretty shaky from all the sea sickness, so I passed on this photo op.

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After the seeing the baby goat, it was back on to the bus and off to the camels!  For only €1 you could do a short little loop with your camel.  By this point I was ready to shake my sea legs and get going!  Granted, it was actually pretty tricky to get up on the camel in a skirt, it was doable.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to ride the camel at the start of the trip, but I’m glad I did.

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After the camels, it was back on to the bus and into the heart of Tangiers!  We started our walking tour by going around a few of the side streets.

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Our local tour guide gave some very interesting facts about the significance behind the colours that littered the streets of Tangiers.  Apparently green paint was used to signify abundance and fertility.  Originally of significance to the desert people due to it being the colour of everything that meant life in harsh climates, these colours were later adopted by government and holy buildings and other places of importance.  The white that is very apparent throughout is used to reflect purity and purification.  It is the colour they use for both happy and sad events.

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As we travelled along the Kasba, our tour guide was also very quick to point out that many famous action movies had been shot in Tangier.  Movies like Inception, Body of Lies, Bourne Ultimatum, and MI5 were all done in the market place.  One thing that I found a bit strange for our tour was the complete lack of people (save for the peddlers trying to sell us souvenirs and the occasional staged cultural stop).  They probably picked paths that were more deserted in order to keep the group together, but it was still a bit odd.

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On the last stop before lunch we came to another group of cultural performers.  They had been sitting around waiting for the next group, so as soon as they saw us they started playing their drums and getting ready.  Being in Morocco meant tipping a lot!  Nearly every time we stopped we had to give a tip, here was no exception.  When they asked for a volunteer from the group to hold the snake, I very calmly stepped back a good ten feet.

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This is not an oven, but was placed in front of the oven and I couldn’t get a good picture of said oven because I am oh too short. It too was once a communal watering hole.

After the snakes were past my weary eye, we made out way down some more alley ways, got to see what was once an old communal oven where the woman would bring their bread to bake.  Each person would make their own individual markings on the bread so they would know which ones were theirs when the came back to fetch them. DSCF6855

Lunch time!  This was my favourite part of the tour.  Lunch was included in our tour fees, but we had to buy a drink (which ranged from €2 for a soda or water to €4 for a beer).  The men in the back would periodically play some music for us (which we had to provide a tip once again).

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Oh boy was lunch fantastic!  To start we had a wonderfully spiced soup with a lot of cinnamon (which is actually one of my favourite spices for soup.  I even throw it in chilli to get a full flavour.  It’s the best kept secret after putting nutmeg and dijon mustard into macaroni and cheese) and cumin.

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It was followed by two skewers of meat that I think was lamb, but have no way of actually knowing.  It was tasty to say the least.  I will continue to pretend that it was in fact lamb ^^

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Our main dish was a plate full of Moroccan seasoned couscous and chicken with vegetables.  This was a great dish.  I have my mum to thank for always being a very adventurous cook.  We always grew up with very bright, colourful, and filled with spice foods.  So dishes like this are right up my alley!  This was also the first time I’ve ever had boiled olives though, and they were delicious!  A much milder taste than what I’ve had before.  I am quite used to having the marinated or ones that have been preserved (how do they normally serve olives?  I had always kind of assumed that the tart sour black and green olives we get in Canada were pickled in some sort of way.  Does anyone actually know?)

IMG_2695-2The last part of the meal was some sweet Moroccan mint tea and halwa chebakia (a sesame cookie that is fried and coated in honey).  The sweets were a perfect way to end the meal…and I was rather disheartened that we only got to have one…and that no one was selling them on the streets. ^^

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A nice picture of Erin and I sitting on opposite sides of the table

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My picture of a picture

After lunch we were told to wait outside for everyone…where we were suddenly surrounded by men trying to sell shirts, magnets, post cards, ect.  My favourite man however was the most entrepreneurial of the lot.  As we had been walking down the Kasba, a man was snapping pictures of us.  I assumed it was for promotional pictures for the website… Nope!  Instead, as soon as we went in for lunch, he whisked his camera away to a 1 hour photo place and came back with all the developed pictures and was selling them for €2 each or if he had more than one of you, you could probably talk  him down.  Alas, he only had one of me (see above) and I think it was my favourite picture of the trip!  I fell like a celebrity ^^

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Look at the gorgeous lanterns!

After lunch they took us to the traditional arts market place.  Now this place was phenomenal!  Granted, I couldn’t afford anything there, it was sure nice to look at.  DSCF6865

They also gave us a spiel about Moroccan carpets, which granted, if I had money…or a permanent address, would be nice to own some day.  Oh well…maybe next time!  Look at how many different kinds they have!

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I mean, who wouldn’t want to own this lovely tea/coffee set?

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After we left the traditional arts market place, we got to walk through the actual market place for a bit.  Sadly we weren’t given any time here.  It was a rush-rush kind of tour.  It would definitely be nice to go back when we’d actually have some time to look around and barter.

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Our last stop of the tour was at a traditional spice and herbologist (sadly the only potion they had was a ‘love’ potion).  They actually didn’t have too bad of a deal on saffron, so I spent my souvenir money on that.  They had some neat things, a lot of Moroccan oils and rose water creams.  Sadly that last one had quite the strong sent and they went around and gave everyone a sample.  Thankfully they also had a pungent black seed which smelt a lot like menthol that was supposed to be good for headaches, and I guess it must have worked well enough because I ended up walking out with a bag ^^

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After this it was a quick-paced walk down the street to head back to the ferry.  There are two things I haven’t mentioned about Tangier yet: One – they have fantastic doors everywhere!  And Two – they have cats everywhere!  As a door aficionado and a cat lover, both facts are grand in my book.

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Sadly all good things must come to an end.  Once we were back on the ferry, I attached myself to the nearest raining by the back and remained there until we pulled into the harbour.  Then it was a long bus ride back into Malaga, and a supper that consisted of crepes!  A great day if I do say so myself.

Till next time~

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Say hi to Montreal and Latvia! [Everyone refereed to themselves by code names of where they were from. I got to be Ireland and Erin was Canada]

Bonus?  There was a 90% chance of rain in Tangier and we had blue skies the entire way!  One of only two rain-free days the entire ten day trip.

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