Sunday, 28 September 2014

So Long, Spain. Now, North Africa!

Our hearts will always be in Spain, but adventure called, and we booked a ticket on the fast ferry to Morocco. We were up bright and early to catch the 9:00 am ferry, and caught a taxi to the dock. We enjoyed our first American breakfast of bacon and eggs since leaving home....Bryce always gets my bacon, since I don't eat beef or pork! We even had great wifi at the little cafe, which allowed us to get caught up on emails and Facebook.

Heading to our loading area with half an hour to spare, we were totally confused, as it wasn't clear which line we should be in. I finally found someone who looked official and showed them our tickets. We stood in the area and waited....

and waited.

Finally, at 10:00, they opened the gate and people pushed, shoved elbowed their way as close to the front of the line as possible, all the while carrying gigantic bags, boxes and babies! Amazing! This was crazier than getting on a Beijing subway! We found our bit of space in the madness and settled in to.....wait some more!

Finally, at 11:00, almost 2 1/2 hours after we started waiting in line, they let us on the ferry! It was a very nice ferry, and although we weren't sure whether the numbered seats were reserved, we found a nice window seat for our two hour journey.

Here's Bryce's version of the trip:

We finally dropped down in Tangiers long enough to have some Oriental food in a Muslim restaurant served up by Abdullah, who speaks German, French and Spanish better than either one of us knows. He understands our: "Je suis Canadiennes, Vancouver," and he gave us wifi pronounced "weefee". He just brought our food, chicken in a delicious sauce and guess what, more olives!

The trip from Spain to Morocco was amazing! I have never seen so many little old ladies stampede a wicket in such short order as these old gals. Men, women, children of all ages crammed through to get on the boat and then through all the turnstiles at immigration like it was $1.49 day at Woodwards!

Two hour wait in line to get on the ferry, still in Spain!

So, it was a couple of hours waiting in line for the express ferry. Silly us, express does not mean fast, it means comfortable, and it was! Starving for oxygen in the cramped pre-boarding area makes a fellow grateful for just about anything! Getting off the ferry, we had couple more hours in a crowd crazed stampede with the mob rules method to get through security. Fortunately we mastered the art of shoving through a crowd on the subways of Beijing, but this mob makes the Chinese look tame! The one and only scanner for the crowd of about 800 broke down when people in front of us started piling their suitcases up 6 deep on top of the belt and it looked like the crowd was about to go into a full on revolution.

In, crowded, looking a little frazzled!

Iwobbled over on my cane to the security guy and he let Arly and I through out of pity.I did not think that we would make it in one piece. The Arabs are very clear in their threats when people with 6-8 suitcases on a luggage cart get in their face and top the load off with Grandma who sports a very attractive blue streak tattooed down her chin! One toothless snarl with a hairy eyeball from Grandma and you clear out, like now!

I did love the Rock of Gibralter and pulling into North Africa was a thrill in itself!

One never knows what is waiting around the corner for them, do they? We got off the ship with no dirhams, although we did raid the money machine before we left Spain, so we were loaded down with Euros. We found the exchange office and did a switch. Looking around for someone to ask for directions, we ran into the "Chef de Gare" (station manager), who took pity on me and pointed us toward a bus leaving for Tangier City, an hour away. "But run, he says, it's leaving right away!" Ya right!

When we arrived in Tangier, we were greeted by our new best friend, Hussan, who informed us that he would take care of us and not let us get ripped off by the taxis and other hustlers who were on us like flies on a manure pile. Being a tourist in this town, I felt more obvious than a turd in a punchbowl! We were the only non Arabs on the ferry, on the bus, and for all I could see, in the entire town!

Hussan wanted to give us a two hour tour of the city for only 6000 dirhams! (About $70) I greased him with enough dough so he would go away, but not before he found us a cheap taxi, which took us to the train station for about a tenth of what it would have cost us in Paris!

We now have sleeper couchette car tickets for the train that leaves at 10:00 tonight, and arrives in Marakesh at 8:00 am tomorrow morning. No sooner had we finished our purchase, and there's Hussan wanting to know if we want to go shopping and have a couple of beers with him? No, we're going to go enjoy a nice lunch and relax in a restaurant, but thanks very much!

Lots of love to all. We are not coming back, so send us Ricky Dog, and we will run a shell game in a small cafe somewhere between here and Casablanca! Love, Bryce





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