“Don’t go very far away from the hotel,” were the hotel manager’s words. There are coffee shops up and down the street, and I’d be safe in any of them, but they are full of men. Not many women are seen here, and if seen, they wear the long robes and head covering. I’ve seen other women in western dress, however, but not as often.
So one morning I took an early walk around about two blocks and at a point where I took a photo of the port where the ferry docked.
I found a grocery store down under another building, and made some purchases. While at the cheese counter, I spoke English to a man from here who told me I should go to Marrakech. “It’s very beautiful and safe. You should see it before you leave Morocco. It’s the best city here.”
I then found a large coffee shop and ordered coffee from a nice young waiter and asked if they had wifi there. He came back with an Arabic newspaper with the code written down on it. He had asked another customer to do that for me.
Later back at the same coffee shop, now with my computer, he offered me a seat, but I needed a place to plug the computer cord into for electricity.
He asked another man, who I assumed was the owner, and he motioned for me and the waiter to go upstairs.
The waiter plugged the computer into a TV set and I was ready to open and begin writing. The balcony room where I sat alone comes close to circling the whole bottom part of the building. A huge crystal chandelier, that almost takes up the entire space above the room, hangs over the bottom floor. Upstairs the walls were painted a bright salmon color with filigree trimmed in white, a common color choice here in Morocco.
I ordered lunch in French, my coffee in Spanish, and I said ‘thank you’ in Arabic.
Lunch was a hard bread cut into triangles with cheese, a dish of spiced olives, and a small cup of yoghurt.
When I arrived back to the hotel, the manager said he would arrange a guide for me, as I mentioned I wanted to see the old town. “Don’t go alone,” he advised, again.
Later: Today is Sunday and I went on a tour of the city with the guide, Chariff Alami. He explained that the country has been celebrating the Festival of Sacrifice. This age-old festival commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey God when he envisioned he was to sacrifice his son. Sheep are slaughtered according to humane Islamic guidelines, and then every bit of the animal is used in meals or in other ways.
On the tour I saw a pile of wool off of freshly slaughtered sheep that would go to tanning companies. Horns and bones go elsewhere. Any left over meat that families cannot finish goes to charity.
Chariff and I went through the new market and the older market, called medina, as well. On the way, he pointed out the Kasbah – the old Portuguese Fort, and the wall that is left from that. We saw narrow streets and narrow walkways along houses. The narrow walkway is room for one person.
The scent of food and spices surrounded us from the houses sitting right on the pathway and up and down many steps.
The city is separated by a fountain and a park. Tangier can be roughly divided into three distinct sections: the old medina, the Kasbah and the new city.
I yearned to see the inside of a Moroccan house and on our way we stopped into a converted house for a B&B. La Tangerina was right on our path and we went all the way up to the top of the house where we could see the ocean and across the bay to Spain, and on the other side of the roof-top was the city with Mosques – old and new, and before that, I was inside of the Anglican Church which was about to begin a service. I was allowed in to take a photo of the front worship center. Chariff, a Muslim, was willing to take an hour out of my time with him so I could attend the service. But I declined that kind offer, as I really wanted to see the markets and learn about the interesting history of Morocco.
“Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States,” Chariff told me.
From Wikipedia: “Relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States date back to the earliest days of U.S. history. On December 20, 1777, Morocco formally recognized the colonies as a unified sovereign nation. Morocco remains one of America’s oldest and closest allies in the Middle East and North Africa, a status affirmed by Morocco’s zero-tolerance policy towards al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups. Morocco also assisted the U.S. CIA with questioning al-Qaeda members captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Somalia and elsewhere during the administration of George W. Bush, 2001–2009.
Formal U.S. relations with Morocco date from 1787 when the United States Congress ratified a Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two nations. Renegotiated in 1836, the treaty is still in force, constituting the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history, and is home to the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world.”
As we walked along the pathways and the streets, people Chariff knew would greet him with a wave, some men with hugs, and all with an obvious respect. He is one of thirteen children and a part of where we walked was his “hood”.
Chariff pointed out that Tangier was home of many well know people including, the artist Henri Matisse, Malcom Forbes, Barbara Hutton and others. Just a few years ago, the film, The Borne Ultimatum with Matt Damon was filmed on the streets in the very old part of the city.
We saw the market stalls of fruits and vegetables that come from farms. Chariff said he remembers not too long ago when farmers would come to the city on market days on mules and carts to sell their wares.
This photo is the name of a famous Moroccan traveler. His burial tomb is near here.
We stopped off for a drink and I was introduced to the most famous drink of all: a mint tea. It was so delicious that I want to go get some right now.
I learned a bit about tipping here from Chariff. I paid for the tea and a the server put my change in a small plate – which I’ve seen done many times before. I took my change, and Chariff handed him some change.
When we got outside I asked him about that, and he said everyone likes to be tipped, and he saw that I wasn’t going to leave the change so he did it for me. Well now I know a bit more tipping etiquette than before.
We walked a good three hours up and down steps and on ramps and in narrow streets and pathways, which without my great guide, I would have been lost without question.