Day 21 - Tangier and more ...

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Flag of Morocco  , Tanger-Tétouan,
Monday, August 16, 2010

Today we wake up to an buffet breakfast thats included in our room rate. And the kids LOVE it. I slept like a rock last night, but Simon and Janice were awoken by the sounds of the prayers through the night and in the morning. Our hotel is less than one block away from the largest mosque in all of Tangier ...
hrmmmm... here is the link to our hotel! :

After breakfast, we rest a bet at the hotel ... the kids beg us non-stop to go swimming, so Janice finds the best clothes for them to do so and off they go. I join them after a while, and hit the gym downstairs in the basement of the hotel. Its a bit of a surreal experience, ... pumping iron in the middle of Tangier to the sound of arab talk radio ... the only word I can make out in all the talking (and yelling) is American ... America ... .... ... ...

Back to the room with the fam, we get cleaned up just as David arrives to take us out for the day. Its great timing, and within ten minutes, we are off! ... He drives us down the coast pointing out various landmarks and castles, past some camels who snub us for a larger tour bus that pulls in just after we do, past several palaces of various royalty and wealthy arabs ... its a great experience. He explains to us that most of the palaces are "extra" palaces. The uber-wealthy keep them, fully stocked and staffed just in case they decide to visit. Crazy big money. Can't imagine.

Down the way, we eventually stop in to what David tells us is the nicest hotel in Tangier. The security guards wave him in and we get to freely tour this beautiful hotel (prices per room start at $350 euros per night, a fortune, especially in Morocco!) ... Le Mirage ... that is the name of the place. ... We pose for photos with the ocean and beautiful fountains, and use their luxurious bathrooms ... then hit the road again until we arrive at a roadside restaurant, again closed because of Ramadan, again they open because we are with David. ... The place is actually active with customers, but not for the restaurant. Half of the place is a meat house ... the butcher has a lamb up on a hook, chopping away and wrapping up meat for each customer. Its a trip. ... We grab our seats and soon enough are served the best mutton I've ever had. Very simply prepared ... just some herbs and on the grill ... but its ridiculously tender, not gamey at all ... just, ugh, GOOD. Also, homemade bread that David tells us is the best in all Tangier ... We polish of the plate and I can just barely contain myself from taking up David's offer of a second kilo sized serving. I pass ... deciding its best not to risk messing up my stomach ... but now as I write this, I'm hungry ... and wishing I had a plate of the stuff in front of me RIGHT NOW!! Was SO good!!!! drooooool....

Back to the car, down the coast some more ... more sights .... and then a quick stop at a road side pottery shop ... David tells us here we pay less than half of the already inexpensive prices in Tangier. The kids take to digging up pieces of broken pottery in the ground, they could've stayed for hours just playing in the dirt, pulling out pottery like archeologists.

Next, on to Asilah, a city southwest of Tangier where they've been able to restore the old city to a place of beauty. Tangier is next on the list, but it is so LARGE that the renovations are slowgoing. ... First stop in Asilah is to David's favorite peanut supplier. Just a simple stand selling all sorts of nuts ... candied, salted, baked, whatever. Free samples for us ... and we leave with David buying us several pounds to take home. We accept the offer gladly! GRUB!

Then, a walkingn tour of Asilah. ... ... gorgeous, clean, musicians in the street ... and our first spotting of other tourists! Turns out we aren't the only white people in Morocco!  hahahaha  ... One of our favorite things about Asilah was the artistic way in which homeowners decorated the outside of their homes. All the walls are white, ... and so some have taken to drawing / painting colorful murals and such outside their doors. Really cool.

Before we leave, we decide to stop for tea and David buys some cookies from a local bakery ... they try to rip him off by charge 120 durhams for what he knows has a going rate of 70 durhams. He calls them on their BS, they try to act like it was a mistake .... all very very common for the culture here, and one of the things I don't like. I don't like feeling like I have to be on guard 24/7 from being ripped off, yaknow? But thankfully, I don't have to ... David takes care of it all for us.

Just as we start to leave, Ella gets pooped on by a bird. The second time in a week. What the heck?? Both times on the back of her leg as she was running. How weird is that??!

Beautiful views as we drive home. Even my crappy camera couldn't mess it up.

As we drive, David and I talk economy and politics. I'm educated as to the royalty, international policies, economy ... .... its great. Tangier is a city booming, ... Renault is building their largest auto manufacturing plant here (we get to see it from the highway) ... and a new multi-million dollar port is being built to support it. ... Lots and lots and lots of growth (population wise and $$ wise) in the years to come.

A quick rest back at the hotel before David drops us off at a nearby Italian restaurant ... we were all exhausted!!! .... After food, we walked back to the hotel, our first experience in Tangier without our host ... and it was a bit overwhelming. The streets were ALIVE and FULL with people at ten o'clock ... kids and teenagers and families and lots and lots of men ... ... Just as we exited the restaurant, some roudy teenagers were throwing rocks at each other playfully, but instantly smiled and stopped as we approached ... lots of smiles exchanged on the way back to the hotel ... we felt lost and just sort of stumbled upon the hotel after a bit of walking.

*** EEK ... forgot to add one of the highlights of the trip! After we got to the hotel, Janice encouraged us to act on an idea that had come to mind. ... Because we are with David, we haven't had any direct contact with anybody (he has done all our negotiations and interactions since he is fluent in French and Arabic) ... which is awesome, but on the flip side, we also want to interact with the people here. Last night, as we drove to the hotel, I say a corner tea / coffee house PACKED with people around midnight. All men. Just chillin' , talking, and drinking. So tonight, Simon and I head out and join them. It was a great decision! We ended up grabbing a seat kitty-corner from the largest mosque in Tangier ... and sat down amongst 50 + arab men, ordered up two Moroccan tea's, navigated around the waiter trying to short us on our change, ... and had a great time people watching and soaking in the sights of the city at night.

Then, sleep. ... And this time, its me that gets awakened in the night by the calls from the minaret. It sounds unlike any muslim prayer I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot! Surrounded by devoted Pakistani muslims growin up...) ... this sounds like just ... screaming? ... Eventually, back to sleep.
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Tonja on

Loving the blog! You do such a good job Asher :) Wishing I was there.. my next trip will consist of a trip to Morocco... I might have to borrow David!

Marita on

The memories are coming back as I read about your visit to Morocco. Asila is such a beautiful place. I could live there. The one thing about it is all of the ocean swimmers around were all boys and men! No women were enjoying the water. Oh well...

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