Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tangiers

After so long in Egypt, Morocco feels like paradise. Tangiers has a bad reputation for hassle and I've heard plenty of bad stories from other travellers about Morocco but obviously we are missing something or they never went to Egypt. It's sad to see how twitchy and paranoid we've become. We are constantly on guard whenever someone approaches us and are all shocked that so far we've not been asked for baksheesh by every man, woman, child and donkey over here. There are touts of course but they will actually walk away after the first "no". Amazing. The air is clean and we'd probably eat off the streets if you told us we had to without even thinking of complaining. Savannah has finally started to relax a little as nobody has tried to grab her butt since we arrived. Smiles and respect so far, with the majority of people on our side in an argument (we had a bus driver NOT rip us off even though a tout told him to). We haven't had anyone try to rip us off yet buying a bottle of water either. Ah, the simple pleasures that we took for granted for so long.
Tangiers is right on the coast facing the straight of Gibralter and has long been a strategic port. Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and European powers have fought to control the area for thousands of years. Tangiers was an international city for a long time with smuggling and the immoral activities of life reigning supreme. All that has long been clamped down on though I haven't had so many blatent offers of hash in a long time. It's not generally considered to be the nicest town in Morocco and most people stay only long enough to get on or off the ferries from Spain. We've liked it and if this is the worst over here then it's not going to be a problem. The weather is perfect and ramadan is not too disruptive so far. Yeah, shops are generally closed and it's pretty quiet during the day but we aren't starving or having one hour sermons to listen to every sundown. They speak a different dialect of arabic here but everyone speaks french too so we are trying to relearn. I am using a mix arabic, english and french within sentences which sounds totally bizarre.
We did a day trip yesterday down the coast to Asilah. Nice quiet town, popular with tourists. The tourist season is winding down now so it is not as crowded as it could be. The main attractions seem to be the old town areas called Medinas with their narrow streets, older architecture and market stalls. They use a lot of white paint and have obviously done some recent cleaning because it looks great.
Today we moved on and inland a bit to Tetouan. It was once the capital of a spanish protectorate and its medina is a UNESCO site. The town has a lot of colonial spanish architecture and the people here speak more spanish than french. Not much help.... There is still english spoken and we were followed around by some pesky wannabe guides today but it is beautiful here. Haven't seen mountains with trees on them in ages either but they are out there today. Cool. This weekend will also be the first sat/sun weekend I've had since mid January when I left Turkey.
Ammon

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