So as I mentioned at the very end of my last installment I went to Morocco. Morocco is the first truly different place I’ve traveled to. It’s considered a developing country. It’s not westernized. Religion and the state are not separate. The King has the power to dissolve Parliament. 99.9% of the population is Muslim. Geographically it’s the closest I’ve been to the States,culturally, it’s the furthest.
As you know, from the lack of picture completion, I was in a bit of a rush. A rush would be an understatement. I finally got my act together and everything set to go around 6pm on Wednesday night. In order to make it I had to be at the port of Algeciras at 8am the next day. Algeciras is about a 4ish hour drive from Granada and all the morning buses and trains wouldarrive too late. I ran home, showered, threw whatever I could find in a backpack, (for those of you who have traveled with me you may be surprised, but I can now live about a week out of a small backpack) and ran for the bus station. I literally ran. I didn’t stop to find a taxi. I got to the bus station, grabbed the second to last ticket on the last bus of the night and I was off. I drove all theway down the coast we drove last week to Gibraltar. At night Gibraltar is lit all around by lights from beneath and it has a single, blinking red aviation light at the top. The rock looks like a revenge-seeking pirate rising from the deep.
I arrived to Algeciras around 12:30am and went off in search of a place to sleep. The trick is to find a one or two star hotel. They’re really cheap becausethey’re not listed online but you still have your own room as opposed to a hostel. The guy who signed me in and gave me my room was quite nice. I got upstairs, crawled into bed, watched the last thirty minutes of The Truman Show, and I was out.
The next morning I woke up around 6:30 in order to shower and figure out where the hell the port was. When I went downstairs to checkout the same guy wholet me in was still on duty. You know you barely slept when the same person is still working. It turns out the port was directly across the street. With nothing better to do and more than an hour to kill I headed to the port to find breakfast and watch the sunrise. At nine o’clock I was sitting on the ferry and headed towards Africa.
We landed in Tangier about an hour later. Tangier is thedefinition of border town. There are people everywhere and bustling markets. Immigration traffic in Tangier has died down in recent years because the Spanish government has begun to heavily patrol the straight of Gibraltar. However, there are still many people caught in a transit state. They’re unable to continue onward to their goal, Europe, but they cannot return home.
Our first stop in Tangierwas, of course, the market. We bought food. I’ll give you one guess to what I got. Dried plantains! After a quick walkabout we sat down for lunch in a dining room that is run by a Woman’s Centre. The Centre gives job skills training and literacy training to women as well as taking in a number of women at a time who have fallen on hard time, be it drug abuse, unemployment, or whatever situation.Lunch was difficult although we had to either order in French or Arabic. That was interesting, as was the couscous covered in steamed vegetables. It tasted amazing but it was unlike anything I’d ever had.
At the women’s centre we met an engaged couple. They were both from Morocco, although not from Tangier, and spoke perfect English. That’s one thing you notice about this country. Everyone speakFrench and the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. Most also speak Classical Arabic and another language such as English or Spanish. Anyway, we got to talking with this couple. We asked about her veil. She said it was her personal choice to wear it. No one was forcing her. She said the Koran explicitly says that a woman is to cover herself but allow her hands and face to be seen. She also said she had...