Today we went to Africa!

When we woke up we were feeling a wee bit nervous about going over to Morocco and having a walking tour of old Tangiers, the Medina and the Kasbah. There was genuinely a bit of hesitation, especially after all the horror stories about the place Mary had read on the Internet last night. But in the end we drove down to the port and parked up before buying our 1-Day tour tickets. Inside the ferry terminal we met our Dutch friends from along the row and we agreed to stay together for the whole visit.

The crossing was very quick which was just as well as the administration was unbelievably slow and repeated every few yards it seemed. At one point after disembarking, we were sent back on board to wait in another queue to get an entry to Morocco form and have our passports stamped. After a wait of ten minutes, the stamper man just got up, collected his stuff and walked away! We were left waiting for the next shift to arrive, and when he eventually did, he spent the first five minutes refilling his stamp machine with ink!

As Morocco is 2 hours behind Spain we were on African soil for the very first time by 09.30. Guess what? We decided not to bring our raincoats. Tangiers looked as if it hadn’t rained there for months. Our guide took us to the old town via the north gate for a quick view across the port before squeezing us into a minibus for the tour of the town. First stop along the road were the camels. Now, as we could not tell if we would ever get the opportunity again, I volunteered for the camel ride first and Mary and our friends followed suit. It wasn’t the deepest Sahara by the way, but more like a car park off the promenade.

Look at the camel’s expression as Mary gets off!

Only need one hand!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never say never.

Never say never.

 

The minibus took us round the main sights then dropped us near the old town at a Berber market. The rest of the time we were walking with our guide Ahmed through the old part of the town including the Medina and the Kasbah. Inevitably the guide took us to a list of places where we were given opportunities to buy stuff we didn’t need: a carpet factory, a scarf manufacturer, a spice shop, an artisan’s workshop and a leather goods shop.

City Square

City Square

Just us

Just us

At midday we were taken to an upstairs restaurant where, I have to say, we were given a great lunch Moroccan style with homemade bread, Vegetable soup, couscous and skewered meats all washed down with mint tea. As lunch was included in the ticket price we certainly weren’t robbed there!

Lunch

Lunch

But the last hour was what we knew was going to happen as we were let loose on the street vendors of old Tangiers! My God, these guys are like a dog with a bone. They just do not give up on trying to get money out of you. I swear the guy trying to sell me bracelets would have followed me onto the ferry if they’d let him.

I made three purchases, having enjoyed the thrill of bargaining with the vendors. Firstly a red fez I bought in the street for 5 Euro, then a cedar wood camel I bargained down from 25 to 10 Euro at the second attempt. Finally after a great deal of headshaking and walking away I persuaded another street vendor to sell me a full-length Jalaba for only 11 Euro. I was particularly attracted to this as it reminded us with affection of our dear friend Saeed from Saudi Arabia.

The best laugh was in the scarf shop where Mary was suckered into posing as the model for the scarves. After a couple of minutes I went and stood outside, knowing I had all our money in my pockets and gradually everyone else in the group came out – except Mary. At long last there was a call from inside for “George” to come back in to see what his wife had chosen. I barged back in, assessed the situation and started to give Mary a huge row for spending all our money. I finished with “You are a bad wife!” to which the salesman replied “Sir, Mister, I hope you will make the lady happy!” and ushered us out before I started to beat her in front of them. What a scream!

The bad wife!

The bad wife!

I have no problem with these people trying to make a buck selling whatever to the gullible tourists and I find it a lot better than sitting on the street begging. If I was as poor as some of these folk I would be hounding rich tourists in the hope of extracting even a small sum which might keep me and my family going. I noticed a sign offering a lunch for 30 Moroccan dinars or something. At 10 of them to the Euro, the guy who sold me the Jalaba could buy 33 lunches!

"Just like that!"

“Just like that!”

On the boat going back I met an Englishman who clearly had a problem saying “No, thanks” over and over again. He and his wife had a couple of scarves, various trinkets and he even had a wee carpet. With red face, he admitted they didn’t want any of it! That’s Morocco for you! Back safely ashore in Spain, the 4 of us agreed we’d had a terrific day and our Dutch friends were generous enough to say they wouldn’t have had such a laugh if it hadn’t been for the antics of Mary and me!

Carlos the Camel!

Carlos the Camel!

And look what we come home to!

And look what we come home to!

Can this adventure get any crazier? We went to Africa today – and we loved it!

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