Out of Africa

Trip Start Mar 17, 2017
Trip End Apr 08, 2017

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, March 26, 2017

We cross the Strait of Gibraltar on a calm sunny morning with the peaks of the Rif mountains in Africa in clear relief.
Thanks to Julie's research, we've sidestepped the hassles and delays associated with the crossing by leaving from the smaller port of Tarifa; our fast ferry doesn't exactly leave on time, but we're making headway by 9:20am and arrive in Morocco just after 9am, thanks to a time change.
We've elected to tackle Tangier without a guide. Lonely Planet and a few other books suggest this is going to open us up to a day of hassles from men wanting to become our guides, but we don't really want to be taken to carpet bazars, the Cave of Hercules or any of the other 'perks' normally included. We get relatively aggressive pitches from one guide right off the boat, but otherwise the propositions prove fairly brief and manageable.
A funny thing about maps; although damned useful, popping one open is like launching a flare gun in terms of attracting unwanted attention, so most of our day is spent not knowing precisely where we are. Maybe that's a metaphor.
The first serendipitous find is a fish market. Hand-sized dark scarlet prawns, gleaming red snapper, an entire marlin, massive chunks of tuna with blood slowly dripping from vertebrae in the unsettlingly torso-like cross-section to the floor.
It's blessedly fresh smelling, so the kids take the experience in stride until we transition to the meat market.
A whole cow's head sits on a slab. Another guy is doing unmentionable damage with great wallops of a meat cleaver. I hustle the kids past whole carcasses of sheep. One side has a whole lotta guts on display.  Jon sees a chicken get its head chopped off...

Soon enough we're through the meat into the olives and produce. Phew! Danger passed.
Now we can slow down to look at patchwork collections of nuts or spices. Little pyramids of rice and grains.
We buy a small bag of olives and a large bag of shelled peas, and make our way to a plaza bench, to snack in the hot morning sun on the lemony olives, secreting the pits into the grass behind us. Welcome to Tangier!
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