Arriving at the port of Tangier
I’m sitting at my favourite cafe. It’s on a corner which runs alongside Mohammed V. The coffee here is great, hence why I come here for breakfast every morning. I love people watching, and by doing so I’ve realised that the locals love people watching too. I can see the Moroccan flag – nineteen in total, blowing in the wind, they are red – my favourite colour. It’s my fourth day here, and I’ve settled in well. At first I was uncomfortable. I just wasn’t used to the harassment – people asking if I wanted drugs, or whether I wanted to buy something all the time. I remember someone pushing into me from behind, I froze with fear, how horrible I thought afterwards, it was, to be so uncomfortable in a city. I quickly learnt and adapted myself. My French helped a lot, although the primary language here is Arabic, French is also widely spoken. I handled the drug dealers, and market men with politeness and a smile, more often than not followed by a hand shake – that’s all it took to regain my solitude, if anything it gave me an opportunity to practice my French.
My first night’s accommodation was in a hotel just off the beach. I was guided there by a man in the street who I asked for directions, he wanted paying of course, so I gave him twenty Moroccan Dirhams (mdh). For one hundred mdh I had my own room with a sink, and a double bed. The next day I moved to the hotel opposite for half the price. That’s the thing you see, you need to ask around so you know your prices. Backpackers Tip – If you want cheap accommodation, its best not to ask with your backpack as it looks desperate. I always ask for the evening after, and will always check the room before I pay to make sure it has a working lock, and it’s in decent condition.
As each day passed I found myself becoming more familiar with prices and where things where, and as such I became more relaxed and comfortable as I wondered the streets. It’s true that the more relaxed you are, the more you see. The food is cheap and tasty. I’ve had pancakes with peanut butter, barbecued chicken rolls with Moroccan soup, and various other delicious sweets and savouries straight off the trays of street vendors.
At the heart of Tangier is the Medina – narrow, winding streets of market stalls filled with souvenirs, and local produce, catering for both tourists and locals alike. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s nice to stroll through to feel the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the market – I found some great food stalls around the Medina.
I have a small routine each day. I wake up for sunrise, and go running on the beach. Afterwards, I go for my morning coffee then I spend the rest of the day writing, learning French, helping other tourists, walking, or simply watching the world go by. It’s funny how simple things like sending a postcard can turn into an adventure.
Every day I learn more, from everything I do – there is always a lesson to be learnt. As I look at my tiny map of Morocco – thanks Lonely Planet – I’m thinking about Casablanca. But then again, tomorrows another day, who knows what could happen, who I could meet, and what could influence my next destination as I make my way to Morocco’s largest, most popular city – Marrakesh.