Today is my last day in Tangier. It has been a fascinating five days. The hotel manager explained when I arrived that the city was more quiet than usual because of the yearly “Festival of the Sheep”. It took me awhile to understand the importance of this holiday. I didn’t think the city seemed all that quiet for the first few days, but today, I saw the difference.
The city is busy as I learned once I got outside of the hotel. I checked out and walked across the street to the place where you can look out and see the cruise ship that had just come in and unloaded a lot of tourists, mostly from the U.K.
I had brunch which was a cheese and mushroom omelette inside a fried bread sandwich, and a small bowl of a variety of delicious olives, and a small salad. I ordered fresh squeezed orange juice…yum. After that I ordered the usual Moroccan tea (dark tea with peppermint leaves) served in a metal tea pot for one person, and is drunk from a glass. The tea pot is hot so the handle is covered with a ‘cozy’. The tea pot is placed over a metal plate that is covered with a matching cloth.
Now, let me explain walking across the street. There are pedestrian marked places at street corners that no one adheres to. People walk across the street with cars going up and down the street, with few breaks in between. If you wait for a break, you’d never get across the street. So I waited until someone else began to walk across and I piggy backed on their bravery. There’s was no way I could walk out in front of fast moving cars, taking a chance they’d stop for me.
I could see first-hand how drivers get around people when I sat inside the taxi. I could swear he would hit the person who just jutted out in front of him. So far I haven’t seen any accidents, and more important: I have survived!
After brunch, I waved down a taxi – something you must do very aggressively – and went to the Kasbah Museum. That’s the word for fort, and is the former sultan’s palace (where Portuguese and British governors also lived) and has recently been completely redone. The new focus is on the history of the area from prehistoric times to the 19th century, most of it presented in seven rooms around a central courtyard.
It at one time housed Malcolm Forbes’ military collection of toy soldiers, but the building was sold to the Moroccan government for a history museum.
Inside are rooms of artifacts and wall maps of old trade routes. A garden is found outside the museum and is full of plants, trees and Moroccan art – pillars and pots and Arabic calligraphy.
When I arrived I was approached by a young man who obviously wanted to be my guide and I told him politely that I wanted to be on my own. Meanwhile some folks from the ship came in and I spoke to some of them regarding their RV caravan trip.
Then I walked back out to get a taxi and was confronted again by the same young man. Finally I told him, a la Greta Garbo, “I want to be alone.” He said something that sounded as if it could be a swear word, but whatever it was, he got the message and left me alone.
Most Moroccan’s guess I’m German, which is one half correct, but I’m an American, and that gets some surprised looks.
I got into a conversation earlier with the manager about my traveling alone. It is unusual, as most people my age sit at home and are looked after by their children.
“I see my mother every day, and if I’m out of town, I call her six or seven times a day to see if there’s anything she needs or if everything is okay. My three other brothers do the same.”
“What do you think about me with my travels?”
“I think you’re running away from something…or you just like to travel. It seems strange.”
“I like to travel,” was my reply.
While in a taxi going back to the hotel from the museum, there were two women beggars near the street and the taxi driver gave one of them a coin. I opened up my billfold and did likewise to the other woman. It is sad to see tiny children begging for their daily bread.
Later, another mother and a boy, barely two years old, if that, was begging for money and when he got some, he quickly handed it over to his mother. He was the cutest little guy, and that got attention of the women. One young woman couldn’t resist giving him a coin and a smooch.
Speaking of smooching: I have noticed the way men greet each other. They hug and kiss each other on both cheeks, when they are good friends. Some, if they are not standing close enough for the hug and kiss, they wave and put their hand on their heart. I feel that gesture is beautiful and heartwarming.
I am working at staying busy for I leave on a night train at 9 p.m. and will sleep on the train all they way to Marrakech. So I was allowed to leave my luggage at the hotel lobby while I stay busy until time to get a taxi and head to the train station.
The introduction to Tangier has opened my imagination to art and design, with fabrics, tile and use of metal. I was told that many people ship carpets, chandeliers and other goods back to their homes, so they can decorate Arab-style. I wouldn’t mind doing that, but my luggage carries a minimum of ‘stuff’ and I’m on a limited budget. So, perhaps when I am motivated to pick up some items from Morocco, I’ll do so at World Market.