I´ve done it!!

Trip Start Nov 17, 2008
Trip End Feb 16, 2009

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Setting foot on African soil means Iīve been on all 6 continents before the age of 30.  :-)

Actually, El Capitān too.

I had a very strange couple of days in Tangiers, and to be honest, I didnīt really like it.  I hope someday to see the "real" Morocco; Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca, but Tangiers was a disappointment.  I booked a deal with a local travel company that gave me return tickets on the ferry and a night in a hotel.  It all sounded good but in reality things were just weird...

Those two days remided me why I hate package holidays, and why I haven't actually been on one in years.  Being an independent traveller I can go where I want and when I want, but when a tour company is in charge then you're herded about like cattle, prodded on and off buses, into resturaunts, through shops... it's just no way to travel, and I genuinely feel sorry for people that do that kind of thing.  It's impossible to see a place for what it is really like, just the shitty tourists spots that try to charge you 10 times the going price for something. 

Anyway, I was with a company called FRS, and it was soon apparent that I was the only person with FRS that day.  I had a red sticker on my chest so the guide in Tangiers could recognise me.  On the ferry I noticed a lot of Americans with bright yellow stickers on their chests, and from what I can tell they just threw me in with this group.  We were dragged on a "special walking tour" of the old town, which in reality meant being brought to certain designated shops and being pressured into buying something for a ridiculously high price.  Our lunch was included, but when we arrived I was told to go and sit in the corner on my own because I didn't have a reservation.  This suited me fine because most of the group were New York high school kids who looked at me like I was some sort of Al-qaeda terrorist whenever I tried to make conversation. 

After lunch we were dragged to more shops, but then our tour guide split me off from the group, and had his assistant take me to other different shops on my own.  I think he realised I was a backpacker and didn't have any money, so he didn't want the rich americans to see me actually say "No" to the shopkeepers incase they realised they could do it too.  Seriously, the pressure you're put under in these places is incredible, and if you're not used to it you could end up handing over a fortune.  When I got back to Spain I met an english couple that bought a 60 Euro rug just to get out of the place safely because they felt so intimidated. 

Speaking of being intimidated, I'll admit it did cross my mind that I was now walking through these narrow old streets and alleys alone, being taken to who knew where buy an 18 year old "tour guide".  Every person we passed stopped and stared at me, and I was constantly harrassed by people trying to sell me stuff.  I've been to places like Peru, Cambodia, India, but even these countries weren't as bad as Tangiers.  I was brought into a shop and my guide said he'd be back in a minute, then disappeared for 20 minutes, while the shop owner tried his best to sell me a rug for a measly 200 euros.  He wasn't phased in the slightest when I laughed at him, took 3 euros out of my pocket and said thats all the money I had (which as true).  My young guide turned up again and brought me back to the main group, who by this time had bought quite alot of presents for the folks back home, costing frig knows how much, and if they paid by credit card then it's gonna cost them considerably more than they thought.

All day I'd just been wanting to get to my hotel, leave my stuff off and then come back to the Old Town on my own and have a look around at my own pace, so I was a bit shocked when we got back on the bus, and the bus started to head back to the port.  This group were only over on a day trip, so I had to explain to the guy in charge that I was here overnight and I'd already paid for a hotel.  "Ok," he says, "you just wait on the bus."  The rest of the group got back on the ferry, headed back to Spain (by which point I was starting to wonder if I should too), and then I was taken to a bus stop where I had to wait another 20 minutes on another bus to take me to the hotel.  Turns out the hotel was about 4 miles from the Old Town so I didn't get the chance to head back anyway.

Not an impressive first day in Morocco.
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