Posted by: vikingsinspace | March 21, 2011

I.5.02.01. Visit Tangiers

Date Accomplished: 26 June 2000

One of the optional trips that I could go on during my first European tour was a day trip from Spain accross the Mediterranean into Morocco, to spend a day in the Old City of Tangiers.  I had often heard stories about Tangiers from my mother who went there when she was young (she grew up in Europe and has many stories of her travels, which is probably why I have such a keen interest in Europe myself), and had already decided I needed to go at some point.  When I found out this was a possibility with my tour group, I made plans to attend (and actually my mother insisted that I went, and even paid for this portion of the trip – not that I needed any more incentive, but that certainly settled the matter).

My Friend and I at the Tangiers Restraunt

The trip accross the sea was a bit rocky, but we landed on the African continent (although still technically in Spain) without any problems.  When we arrived at the Moroccan border, we had to give up our passports before entering the country.  I hate being seperated from my passport, so this caused me a lot of worry during the trip, but I would eventually get it back when I left again.  It didn’t take much longer before we arrived on the outskirts of Tangiers, and prepared to walk within the Old City with our tour guide, Abdul.  Abdul was very knowledgable of the ciy, but he insisted on constantly shouting the catch-phrase ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy!’ during the whole day.  While this may have been funny at first, and growing in irritability as the day wore on, we would have been lost without Abdul.  The Old City of Tangiers was purposefully laid out like a maze, so that any attacking force that actually got within the city would never be able to find its way back out again.  We wandered through the maze of small alley-like city streets and stopped at several shops where some traditional wares were sold and crafts were made (all the while being followed by an army of street vendors trying to sell us things).  Lunch was had at a restraunt in the middle of the city, and the food was excellent (sadly, many in my tour group were afraid to try the food – oh well, it was their loss).  Even more impressive, was an entertainer in the restraunt who danced around the table, balancing a plate with five lit candles on his head.

Silk Rug I bought in Tangiers

There are two more things I remember from this trip that I believe are worth recording.  The whole of the city smelled poorly, but could be tolerated if one had a strong constitution (which I considered myself to have).  As we entered the city, Abdul bought a large handful of mint leaves for people to holdto their noses to avoind the stench.  I opted not to use mine, but did have to conceed to it for a while when we arrived at the Tanners.  I had never seen a real Tannery before, so it was certainly an experience to witness the people truging through the mud and dung as they worked the skins into leather.  Secondly, we were constantly being stared at by the locals, and when someone had asked Abdul why this was, he simply answered that it was because the girls in our group “were dressed like prostitutes.”  The girls were simply wearing shorts and tanktops; not anything we would consider too revealing, but it really drove-home the point that we were no longer in a country with a Western culture.  As I am writing this, Tangiers is still the one place I’ve visited that really felt like a different world away from America.  I am glad to have had the opportunity to go there, as it was a very eye-opening experience for myself, particularly at a relatively young age (I was 18 at the time…).  Sadley, I have very few pictures from this trip, as I did not feel comfortable taking my camera out very often.  However, I did find a nice article from the New York Times that offers some good photos of Tangiers: enjoy!

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