It was one of those nights when either one of us got much sleep. I guess it was that built-in alarm clock that just kept us thinking about having to get up a little earlier to catch the ferry. I don’t know why the built-in alarm started out so early, but it did. Finally about quarter to eight, we both jumped up and headed for the shower. By 9 we were walking the 2 miles into town to catch the 11:30 ferry…I know, a little early, but we didn’t want to miss it either. Our ride across the Straits of Gibraltar took just over an hour. While on the ride, we met another couple that was taking this tour as well, so although the boat had just a few people on it, we knew that we had at least one more couple going on this tour. Arriving at the pier in Tangier, we found that there were 2 more couples, so now we were 4. Of course Lou and I had a little problem, but fortunately it was taken care of quickly with the help of our tour guide. We were told that prior to leaving the boat, a “policeman” would stamp our passport, and that must be done prior to leaving the boat…well, a “policeman” did come by our seat, and told us to “get our passports out”, at least that’s what we both heard. It turned out that I was to take the passports to his “office” and he would stamp our “TICKETS”, not our passports. Well, neither one got done until we walked “OFF” the boat and got our help. Ok, now we are on the bus, or should I say van. It was nice to have a small group because we got a little more personal attention (another good reason to travel off-season). We were told that there would be aggressive attention to us by young to old venders that were selling just about everything you could possibly want and then some. Once we were out of the van and touring the “Kasbah” (the old fortress of Tangier, and now a place for that “photo moment” as we wandered through the narrow passageways.), they seemed to come out of the ancient walls and settle upon us in groups of 4 and 6. I think the idea was one to attach himself to the women, while another would pull the husband away and try to sell him at a different position of the group while still walking through these VERY narrow passages, and all the time walking a circle around you to keep your attention…quite an art !!! It was amazing to watch them work, because when someone in the group finally found something they wanted to buy, they all converged on her with in a second or two. Our tour guide was pretty good at making them back off, but then in the next few paces, they were all back…it is a game, and I kind of have fun with all of it. I didn’t buy anything, but watching it all happen is great fun. This tour was like a lot those we took in Egypt and Turkey, where the guide will find the opportunity to take you in to “this special place”. There you will find yourself sitting for a “demonstration or explanation” of “hand made carpets, or the second stop, a “Naturalist” who has special recipes for herbs that will heal any and all ails you may have (for me, he wanted to grow hair for me with his special oils…) and of course, our guide gets his cut from anything that is purchased.
We did have a good “local” 4 course lunch included. We started with a great soup, then couscous with chicken, skewers of lamb, and desert. All that was topped off with mint tea. During lunch, we were entertained with a 6 piece musical group that played typical Moorish music. While walking the passageways, we saw some women carrying bread dough wrapped in cloth. they were heading for the “baker”. He has a little stall in the wall that has a wood burning oven built into the back wall. He does the baking of the dough and after a while, she comes back and collects it. Each woman has a special “mark” that she puts on her bread to keep hers separate from the others. Also, as we walked these passages, we had to constantly be aware of string that was strung from one end “street” to the next corner. Sometimes, there were as many as 6 different strings at 6 different levels and angles. These were strung tight for the young man who was twisting them together to make thread for embroidery work. Another item of interest, ONLY men can do embroidery…a woman’s eyes are not strong enough to handle the work required. Again, there were lots of little “shops” that were cut into the walls of the passageways that had these men sitting on pillows embroidering. Our next stop was to see the “snake charmer” do his bit, and then it was across town for those of us that might want to ride a camel. I did the snake thing, with a snake draped around my shoulders, but passed on the camel. Fortunately, the snake he used to place on us wasn’t the cobra, or I most likely would have passed on this experience. We covered Tangier from one end to the other over 4 to 5 hours, and when it came time to leave, we all felt much better about the idea of coming into Tangier on our own someday. For some reason, that bit of insecurity that was there prior to this trip over. During our ride, we were told of some of the traditions of the Muslims of Morocco. For instance, if a husband was to die, his wife is forbidden to attend the funeral. He told us that the idea behind this, is that the woman gets too over whelmed and throws herself all over the body and this makes the ceremony too difficult for the men that are attending. She can go to the grave site, but only after the 3rd day. One other interesting thing, she wears only “white” clothing (robes) during the mourning period of 3 months. After that point, you can wear any color she wants and she can also get married at that time as well..but only if she has refrained from having sex. It seems that the 3 month period of refraining from sex has to do with the possibility of being pregnant while her husband was still alive. Darkness is arriving, so back to the boat, across the Straits, a little stop at the internet, and finding one of the BEST pizzas we have had in a very long time, and last but not least, finding a taxi to take us back to “Bumble Bee”. Tomorrow…CARMONA