Marruecos, Part 1

Sometimes my loss is the Internet’s gain. By this I mean that today I woke up and felt awesome, and I was so excited to be able to leave the house after being sick for the past few days. I went to the market, bought food, walked all around town, came back home and had breakfast . . . and now I feel bad again. Which means that now you get to read about my amazing trip to Morocco!

I started out my trip going backwards. The tour bus to Africa left from Sevilla and went south, and I live south of Sevilla. So my first step was to get on a bus and go north. The tour bus also left at 5 am on Saturday, so I made my backwards way up to Sevilla on Friday afternoon. It was raining, so, not a very auspicious start to my voyage, but I met up with 3 other auxiliares for dinner and I am so glad I did. Thank you Allison for contacting me on Facebook beforehand, because it was really nice to know someone before I went on the trip. We were all staying in the same hostel as well, which meant we could all walk to the bus stop together at the very crack of dawn.

The only bad thing about doing things in a group, like walking to a bus stop, is that sometimes, the group decides to do things in a way you don’t want. By this I mean we all woke up at 3 am the following morning to make sure that we would make it to the bus stop by 4:30. We actually got there at 4, and we were the first group there. BUT we were one of the first people on the bus, so we had an open choice of seating . . . that was a plus. I actually ended up with a seat to myself, although I quickly discovered that the seats were too narrow for me to lie down on. It took probably about 3 hours to get down to Tarifa, which is the southern most part of Spain. I did manage to doze a little between Cádiz and Tarifa, and woke up to Toba (tour guide) saying, “Wakey wakey, eggs and bakee!” No clue where I was or what was going on.

There is something about port towns that is invariably scuzzy. Perhaps there are nice sections of Tarifa; I don’t know because it was dark and we went straight to the ferry. But man, the section right around the docks . . . skuzz-zay! Anyway. The port building was also kinda sketch, but we were only there long enough to buy tickets, get coffee, and go through passport control. One thing I didn’t know was that I was going to be getting 2 stamps for my passport: an exit stamp from Spain and an entry stamp for Morocco. Thank goodness we had our tour guides to handle things. They had us fill out the entry forms, got us in line, collected our passports after the first stamp, and got the second stamp for everyone in the group while we were crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. That left everyone to “enjoy” a very choppy ferry ride, take pictures of Africa, or sleep.

Once off the ferry in Tangiers, we all got back on the bus (yes! The same bus! It came on the ferry with us) and drove to Rabat. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, and the scenery from Tangiers to Rabat was surprisingly green. The one thing that I think bothers me most about southern Spain is how not green it is. There is not a ton of grass here, but in the north of Morocco there were rolling hills of grass, fields of green crops, just green everywhere. We stopped for lunch in Rabat about an hour late, but the food was worth it. We had a bell pepper and cucumber salad with cumin and cilantro, a pastry filled with chicken, couscous, and spices, and ice cream for dessert. The restaurant was also on the ocean, so we had a nice view, and after we ate we got to go out and frolic on the beach. I ate lunch with two very nice ladies from Canada who were named Susan and Mary (I am not kidding, I actually did meet 2 people, travelling together, who had the first and middle name of my mom. Wild.) and I drank a Fanta Limón. Interestingly enough it is not as good in Morocco; it is too sweet and syrupy, whereas the Fanta Limón in Spain is very tart and fizzy.

Tourist time! We first went to the royal mausoleum, which we were hoping to go in. For some reason it was closed that day, so I just took beautiful pictures of the outside. I also took pictures of the mosque, which we already knew we weren’t going to be allowed to enter. The mausoleum and the mosque are situated in front of a plaza filled with columns, and at the far end of the plaza is a minaret. Our Moroccan tour guide told us that the columns were from a mosque that was meant to be built on the site, but was never completed. The minaret was supposed to be for that original mosque, and it was finished, and was still being used as the minaret for the current mosque. It is kind of weird I guess to have the minaret at one end of the plaza and the rest of the mosque all the way over at the other end, but the guide told us that the mosque and mausoleum had been designed by the same architect (a Vietnamese architect, if you can believe that. He was apparently highly trained in Arabic architecture), and it was thought that putting a minaret in between these two buildings would upset the symmetry. You also used to be able to go up the minaret, much like the Giralda Tower in Seville (to which it is very similar), but we walked over to it and it was closed off. We had fun watching people in the plaza, especially an extremely cute little girl who kept running around, running up to us, and pointing at us while babbling in no language that we could discern.

Our next stop was the Kasbah, which means “walled city”. A few posts back I talked about visiting the “Alcazaba” in Málaga, and they are the same thing, except alcazabas are in Moorish Spain, and kasbahs are in Morocco (and elsewhere, I guess). The kasbah in Rabat is on a hill, so we walked up to the top. Two of the most interesting things about the Rabat kasbah are its coloring and its current use. The bottoms of the buildings are painted light blue, and the tops bright white, so the whole thing looks like Greece on the inside. People also still live in the kasbah; we saw a woman hanging out her laundry on a rooftop above us. The views from the top were great too and I took a ton of pictures.

Back on the bus (this will be a recurring theme of this trip). We had about 2 hours more to go to get to Fez, our destination for the night. Remember how we got up at 3 am that morning? Not only was it 7 pm when we left Rabat, but Morocco is one hour behind Spain, so it felt like 8 pm, which makes 18 hours awake. 20 hours awake by the time we got to the Fez Inn. 21.5 hours awake after we ate dinner (rice, veggies, stirfried eggplant, amazingly good food) and I had a shower. I was unconscious at 10:30 pm as soon as I discovered that I had absolutely no 3G access on my Kindle.

 

And the trip was only beginning!

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