Morocco, part 2, Tangier
The transfer up to Tangier turns out to be on target indeed. The weather is raging with thermometers pushing up some 12 degrees, the sun is shining and it’s beautiful. We have already become immune to the constant taunts like "buy this, buy that and this one is also necessary" and the equally popular "come, I'll lead you where you want (not at all) the shortest way possible" and we start to blissfully wander around the place with alleyways, alleypaths and seas of mint tea. In search of a drink that is to save us from freezing, we arrive at Salon Bleu, which in addition to being remedy for cold, also offers a wonderful view of the Strait of Gibraltar and, as the name suggests, its interior has all the shades of blue.
Every now and then, we come across groups of tourists spat out from this or that ferry, but we try to keep as far away from them as possible. Hence (almost) unpopulated photos.
We check out the Musee de la Kasbah (as most of such places, being a real mine of inspiration: patterns, colours - a real cosmos and a paradise for the eyes.) Somehow, all photos from the place are shamefully blurred, all of them, which, however, leaves us with an excuse to revisit this place) and Petit Socco (from there, I am able to pick a few photos - apparently the temperature has already risen to the point at which we manage to keep the camera in place without the scandalously unnecessary shiver).
And then for the hit of the day - the port with fishing boats and the wharf covered with translucent blue nets dotted with yellow dots. It is there, in an inconspicuous booth, for peanuts, we eat one of the best dishes in the history of culinary excavations. A metre-round platter is filled with several species of fish prepared in a variety of ways, including a heap of seafood on the side - everything from the morning catch, accompanied by the Moroccan khobz. (Not so) little drops of heaven.
Having visited seventh-century-BC Phoenicians buried in the rocks, we bump into an illegal beer pub from which only extremely blurred photos of beer bottles have survived (a complete ban on photography combined with an unpolished skill of shooting from the hip leaves us with blurred memories of the place rather than with something that is actually worth showing). Beer with meaningless alcohol content is so effective in this climate anyway that lively discussions conducted initially in English and French, throw themselves into German or even Dutch, without noticing the linguistic braid that is possible with the multilingual geniuses that dot some touristy areas in exotic locations.
The day culminates in a place where men turn the world green, or rather J. visits the place, as women are forbidden entry, and therefore I stand under a very inconspicuous door, in a very inconspicuous street around very inconspicuous outskirts of Medina. Although the source of greenery is present in the everyday life of Moroccan people, one should not forget that it is in fact illegal, and that it may be punished with up to 10 years in prison. This is also a place where, on top of other things, you can buy an absolutely iconic wooden pipe with a tiny metal pommel (no photos).
The last mistake we make in Tangier (in the series of errors known from the first part of this story) occurs in the evening on our way back to our polar vortex of a room. Somewhat tired of all-day loitering in relatively low temperatures, we hesitate in choosing the direction at one of Medina's numerous intersections. A fraction of a second, a thousandth part, unfortunately lures a vigilant eye of the ubiquitous "come, I will lead you …”, which immediately catches this suspension of pace and despite internal objections (always, always listen to those howling sirens inside ... even if they are conveniently muffled) and off we go with our new self-proclaimed guide. Definitely, not along the shortest possible way and even in a completely different direction. I smell the rat before J does, who still harbors this wishful hope that maybe this is an unknown shortcut (unknown?, after the first day with the first guide? impossible!), And when we finally say "No" to our collection of guides (in the meantime, the first has been joined by more in hope that something off the naive tourists will trickle down onto them too), to which they say that we have been going the wrong way anyway and disappear in the streets of Medina. We are left with navigation lessons for the future:
1. Never, but never hesitate at the intersections of northern Morocco *.
2. If you have already made this mistake and a hundred helpful hands wrapped in an encouraging smile and a story with a forty-member family to feed are reaching out to you, do not yield to the temptation, please.
3. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and you will be better off with your intuition on board that with a community of charity givers slash takers in tow.
* why did I put the asterix next to "northern Morocco"? Well, the later, extremely positive experiences with the Berber community dominating the south allowed us to notice that, unfortunately, it had been the Arab part of the community that was the source of my cultural claustrophobia, and that the impression of being ogled had nothing to do with the charm of bargaining that we experienced next year).
On the day of our departure, Morocco is niftily reached by an atmospheric front eliminating the chill and ensuring standard warmth and cosiness, thanks to which on the way to the airport we are spoiled with such beautiful views.
The return journey lasts almost 24 hours, because waiting for a plane in Paris drags for 10 long hours and is accompanied by a general impression of the butt numbing cold and olive-based intoxication (our backpacks are stuffed full of olives and spices hunted down in the souks - a little taste of Morocco is always worth bringing home, especially those pink olives, yum!).
Back at home, I declare with full conviction that no more Morocco in my life time, which is why, three months later, we start looking for tickets to Al-Mamlak al-Maghribijja.