A Brief Taste of Morocco

Planted amidst our conventional Spanish holiday, we decided ( my boyfriend and I) to venture over to Morocco. A taste of Africa for the faint hearted we wimpishly thought. After arriving at the Spanish occupied town of Cueta we felt a sad comfort from the macdonalds signs and multitude of adverts.

At thevMoroccan passport control we were slapped to our senses and slowly we realised that the 'Mad Max' terrain beyond the gates was utterly different.'Oh Goody',we should have thought. 'Oh God', was perhaps more like it.We had believed the three day trip to Chefchaouen and one night stay in Tangier was going to cost the equivalent of a night out in London.

Unfortunately the stubbornness of our battered merc taxi driver and our lack of French and Dirham exchange rate didn't achieve the peanuts price tag.Chefchaouen really as a long way, passing bizarre rubble heaps along the roadside stopped being strange after a while. Soon the juxtaposition of homeless children sitting by fires across from impossibly white expensive villas clearly revealed the huge divide. Up through the overwhelmingly impressive Rif mountains, crisp dead dogs lay by the side of the roads.

After the calm and quiet of the ride the bustle in Chefchaouen square was bewildering. After paying, we were pulled into the clutches of another driver claiming to be our last taxi mans friend, he asked where we going and bundled us in. We were immediately offered 'kif' ( weed ) and driven round the corner in what was clearly now not a taxi.This solitary experience of being worried about anything happening really tainted our opinion of the place.In the end we were robbed of money alone and I couldn't help but be glad. He even tried explaining his reasons for doing it. Just be aware at all times. Our hotel was , in the blandest sense , ok. The bedroom window felt like the front row seats for an animal chorus that went on all night.

The next day the beautiful powder blue paint that douses the whole town brightened the already scorching day. Walking around the maze of roads and alleyways felt like we were padding around inside a cloud. We stopped for cous cous and refreshing mint tea, the staple diet and incredibly tasty. The old medina lay in the middle of the old town which is very special. That and the clean air blew away the previous nights exploits. Although my flesh was covered i noticed that many of the ladies, themselves uncomfortably concealed would shy their eyes from me as i walked passed.Even with the unbearable sun ,you have to adhere to the rules of respect and not show any flesh in this traditional town.

Leaving Chefchaouen by bus the next day i felt ready, unlike a few Spanish tourists that remain wedged into the furniture of a nearby restaurant. Smashed on strong kif that is readily available.
The bus journey was another experience. Stifling heat and plastic seating, surrounded by women unused to travelling, they all clutched sick bags which were filled over the course of the journey.
Tangier was noisy, polluted and dirty but it had a buzz like cities do and we were pleased to be there. We ventured onto the perfect beach, with soft sand and crystal waters. All to be enjoyed visually but unfortunately not for me to jump in. Whilst the men cooled off, the mothers and wives sat uncomfortably on the sand covered in their black robes.

Our meal was reasonable and we were able to indulge in a glass of wine or beer instead of the now sickly sweet mulchy tea.The only blight was the terrible guilt felt for the dozens of young homeless boys pleading for a bit of food. Wait until you have completely finished before letting them take what they want. Understandably they will try to take it all.Truly heartbreaking stuff.
A walk around the medina was nice with gorgeous views of the port. My boyfriend felt slightly uncomfortable by the droves of men about and the attention that a lone woman - me -would inevitably get.

We got up early to catch the 7am ferry across to Algeciras. When we arrived the hall was full of people clambering to get through passport control. recognising us as tourists (no we didn't blend!) a man told us that for a fee he would bribe a security guard to let us pass through quicker.Tired and irritated we told hi where to go.

Two hours later and we desperately trying to find him.We eventually got through and had to wait again by the locked boat.People started to throw their suitcases up onto the ferry and clamber on it.It became clear that the four or five ferries advertised as leaving daily was not true. Sitting scrunched up on the deck with a child asleep on my lap made this more apparent.

The huge delays on getting off of the boat made it clear the Spanish controls were purposely delaying everybody, for whatever reason. We didn't care about the politics we were back on Spanish soil. The heady scent of tobacco and exhaust fumes filled our elated heads. We'd tried being cultured and we got scared!

> Home Page






G Adventures reviews 

intrepid travel reviews