SUNDAY, March 2nd.
We awoke early and got on the road. We drove about an hour to a port town on the tip of Spain called Tarifa. Here we barely caught the ferry to Tangier, Morocco. Yes, you read correctly, we went to AFRICA!! It still feels like it may have been a dream.
Entering the ferry.
The boat was really rocking on the way over and the bathrooms were full of seasick passengers. I shut my eyes and opened them to a new continent. It was pretty awesome. We lined up to exit the ferry and find our tour guide, Said (pronounced sigh-eed). Just as we exited the ferry a man walked up to me and held out a piece of paper “Jennifer Smith”
“Is this you?” He asked.
“Okay, the four of you, follow me!”
My Dad, Dean, Matt and I followed this man past the long lines to a desk. Here Said and the man behind the desk spoke in Arabic. Said asked us for our passports and he handed all four over to the man who stamped us into Morocco. Then we bypassed the long line again, Said nodded at some security guards and we went through some secret exit and ended up in a parking lot near the dock. Said introduced us to Khalid who would be our personal tour guide. Khalid walked us over to a large white passenger van and we piled in.
Khalid then took all of our passports and announced “I will go sell these.” And he headed back up toward the ferry. I knew he was joking yet still felt very uneasy having my passport in the hands of a stranger in a different country. Luckily, he came back 5 long minutes later (in the picture, he is the man in black walking toward the van) with our passports in hand, “Nobody would buy them!” He said. He had taken them and had them stamped for our departure. This was so when we left later that day we would not have to wait in the long line to get our passports stamped. It will save us time. Are you kidding me? Ha ha we were definitely not in America. There is no way that would ever fly — in most places. Anyway, then our adventure began. We started by taking the van up to a lookout point where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea at the same time. Pretty tight.
There were people selling all sorts of things every where we went.
We hopped back in the van and rode for about 10 minutes until we came to the Camels. This was awesome.
The only place I had ever seen a camel before is the zoo and now I got to ride one. They are huge animals.
After the camels, we went to the famous caves of Hercules. They are famous because according to Roman sources, and wikipedia, “Hercules had to cross the mountain that was once Atlas. Instead of climbing the great mountain, Hercules used his superhuman strength to smash through it. By doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and formed the Strait of Gibraltar.”
↓ The view from just outside the caves–this is where we began the walking portion of our tour ↓
Morocco is beautiful. And colorful. And full of culture. We walked the markets and saw an entirely new way of living. The markets were my favorite and least favorite part of the tour. Favorite because it was sooo interesting. Least favorite because of the fish/meat sections. See for yourself…if you dare. Some pictures get kind of gross.
↓ Poor bunnies for sale. I say poor because they are being sold to be eaten ↓
↓ One of my favorite pictures. A Berber woman selling vegetables on the side of the road. ↓
↓ I’m not sure what these are. Spices? The next photo is definitely spices. ↓
↓ Cheese. The case is made from woven palm leaves. ↓
↓ Olives ↓
↓ This was the beginning of the meat market. I thought this stand was bad… ↓
↓ Stomaches. You can see the gastric rugae, or folds. ↓
↓ The head of a sword fish ↓
↓ An eel ↓
↓ Goat heads ↓
Just imagine the smell. And the juices that were dripping right on to the walkway. The bottom of my shoes had never seemed so disgusting.
↓ The meat/fish section finally ended and then we saw more beautiful stands like this one ↓
Believe it or not, we walked straight from all of that to lunch. I don’t think any of us had much of an appetite. Especially after seeing where the restaurant owner had surely purchased his meat from. But, Said came and made us all feel comfortable, we washed our hands and began a 4 course meal. Pictured below is what we started with, bread, crepes, and olives with dip. All had very interesting flavors.
↓ This was our second course. Chicken pie. I tried as hard as I could to push the images of the hanging chicken carcasses from my mind and ate up. It was surprisingly tasty. ↓
The next course was a meal cooked and served in a tagine. I can’t believe I did not get a picture. I guess you will just have to Google “tagine cooking” to see what I’m talking about. It is a small, funnel-shaped, ceramic, slow-cooker thing. After the tagine, they brought out baklava and fresh strawberries and oranges for dessert. Said was very friendly and made for a very positive experience.
After lunch, Khalid took us around to a couple shops.
↓ The rooftops where Jason Bourne saved the world in the third movie ↓
↓ This was taken in a spice and herb shop. The owner had a whole presentation for us. He would tell us about a spice or herb and the uses. He passed it around for us to smell. At the end he gave us each a bag and told us the price of the various products. He was quite the salesman. My Dad got me some Moroccan hair oil to mix with my shampoo for healthier hair. I got some magic lipstick. It was a really fun experience. ↓
↓ This man followed us, especially Dean, around for the majority of our walking tour. He just kept holding out the bracelets asking us to buy. We told him no but he just kept following us. I don’t remember if someone finally caved in or not but it was actually a pretty comical experience. ↓
↓ A view of Matt, the port, and part of the city on the far right. ↓
↓ Khalid in traditional moroccan robes. I cannot remember what they’re called. He was really funny and a fabulous guide. ↓
↓ A picture with Said, the owner of the tour business. He has everything down to a science. He was great! ↓
↓ Saying goodbye ↓
↓ A picture showing how Said would lead us right passed the check points and security stations. ↓
↓ About to get on the ferry ↓
If you have made it this far, congratulations! That was quite the long post but the pictures were too good not to include. Visiting Morocco is something I will not forget. It was so neat to experience a culture so different than our own. It also made me so grateful to be an American. Hopefully after returning from our three months in Europe, I will not forget the feeling of gratitude I feel now for the fortunate circumstances I was born into.