A weekend away

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hello from sunny Tangier!
I'd heard a lot about this place before coming here, and most of the reports I'd gotten indicated that Tangier was seedy and that there wasn't much to it. Happily, I've discovered that the reports are wrong. Tangier does have a seedy side, it's true, but it's no worse than any other city in Morocco. There's a cinema that shows local films, there's a writing and translation organization, there's a free art gallery with rotating exhibits, and there are several artistic cooperatives where the women themselves sell their own handicrafts (instead of being exploited by middlemen who jack up the prices but don't give the artists their fair cut). Add to that that the lovely and compact medina looks out over the water, and you have a pretty good combination of positive things.
While I was here in Tangier, I met up with some lovely people who were able to show me around quite a bit. Once we'd thoroughly explored the medina we went to Casa Barata, on the outskirts of Tangier. It's basically a giant open-air flea market, with all kinds of goods, from traditional Moroccan handicrafts to European factory rejects to cheap imports made in China. I bought an ipod charger and a pair of trousers there, and got into a spirited but unsuccessful bargaining match with a shopkeeper over the price of some skirts.
We also made an excursion to the Hercules Caves. Once a quarry for millstones, they're now a tourist destination because they constitute the fabled Gateway to Africa. Perched at the northernmost tip of Morocco, directly across the strait of Gibralter from Spain, they symbolize the gateway between the two continents. The fact that the cave opening forms the shape of Africa doesn't hurt.
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