Gibraltar to Tangiers, Morocco – 35 km

I am posting my journals backdated to the day I wrote them, so read from bottom up if you have just arrived. Keep checking back, I have two weeks of journals to upload.

We were early out of Gibraltar after a greasy pub breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, blood pudding and fries. We worked our way back through the industrial wasteland to the West, then gave up and rode along the highway cutting about 15 km off our route.IMG_0888

We were heading for Tariffa to catch a ferry to Tangiers, but after stopping at a ticket vendor on the highway, we decided to catch the next fast ferry from Algeciras. We had some time to kill before the ferry, so we headed into the market for coffee. IMG_0890

As we sat drinking coffee, a tormented man walked up and down through the sidewalk cafés screaming his rage at the world and his personal demons, ignored by everyone. To the locals, this appeared to be a normal occurrence.

Getting into the port to the ferry was very confusing. We followed signs in circles around roundabouts and back on ourselves until we found our way through the ticket gates and passport control to sit at the dock surrounded by cars and vans. Roofracks were piled high with old bikes, chairs, beds and scaffolding. The backs of the vans were packed tight with fans and every imaginable type of merchandise.IMG_0895

Everything is confusing. There are several ferries docked and no signs telling us where to go or which ferry was heading where. We sat at the front of a line of cars by the dock waiting for any ferry that looked like a fast ferry and hoping we were at the right place.

Our tickets are for one o’clock and a fast ferry arrived at that time. By one-thirty, they started boarding. We attempted to board showing our tickets. Wrong ferry. We got on our bikes and rode down the line of docks searching and hoping we weren’t too late. At the far end, another fast ferry was just arriving. This was the one, already 45 minutes late.IMG_0900

We sat as truckloads of live snails disembarked, destined for tables around Europe. Finally, at about 2 pm, we boarded, stowed our bikes and headed upstairs for the journey. The ferry finally got underway at 2:45 pm and we are on our way to Africa! IMG_0904

A blonde American woman sat near us on the ferry. She had two enormous red suitcases, a red scarf over her head, bright red lipstick and a large stuffed Snoopy doll. Over the course of our voyage, we slowly learned her story as she talked to anyone around her who would listen.IMG_0908

She had married a Moroccan man and converted to Islam. She is on her way to Casablanca to meet her husband. She described her experiences in Tangiers; the male only coffee houses, the pensions where men could sleep and the mazes of streets in the Médina where you could get anything and do anything. She said that it was all too much and she preferred to hire a local guide while there.

Her stories were of dangers and differences, making her sound adventurous and worldly, but her demeanour told another story. She had trouble with her excessive luggage. She sat fidgeting and looking worried, glad for any company who would listen to her.IMG_0910

In Tangiers, we were waved off the ferry, through passport control and straight through customs. We rode past the touts trying to sell us tours and hotels. Leaving the port, we started heading East. I had Googled a hotel back in Canada and remembered that the name started with an S and that it was on the coast. So, we rode until we hit the Shéherazade Hotel, pulled in and booked a couple of rooms.IMG_0918

After showers, we headed out to explore the Médina, the old part of the city. As I got money out of the bank machine, a passing Moroccan man said laughing, “you get it out and we’ll just take it off you.”IMG_0922

The streets in the Médina are lined with shops selling leather bags, sandals, silver and gold. The men dress in a mix of Western clothing, some in Moroccan style with long robes, a fez and leather slippers and yet others wore Berber robes with long peaked hoods.IMG_0923

We wandered through the maze of streets, through jewellery markets and stalls with piles of olives, pyramids of colourful spices, bags of beans and hanging chickens. Men sold short rolls of thick wire by the side of the road. We found our way through the tailor district with made to order suits and shops with brightly coloured women’s robes on mannequins that looked like they were bought second hand from Macy’s back in the 50’s sporting beehives and bright makeup.IMG_0927IMG_0937IMG_0938IMG_0941    

We had a light dinner in a café, then eventually found our way out of Médina by following the roads downhill. We headed back down to the waterfront where we could get drinks at a row of bars overlooking the sand and the sea.IMG_0947

It seems that with alcohol, banned elsewhere, comes other vices and liberties. These clubs seem to be a haven for the Moroccan gay community. The bar was lined with men and an older gentleman, well dressed in an expensive suit, sat at a table beside us flanked closely by two young male ‘friends.’ All three shared a bottle of wine and a romantic meal.

We sat there watching the people around us for a long time. With every round of beer we bought, another plate of Tapas showed up on the table. We were stuffed from our earlier meals, but sampled everything to be polite. We listened to the mix of languages, tried to determine the hierarchy of the waiters serving us and watched the sky turn dark, all while listening to live music.

Download GPX file for the day. [maptype=G_MAP_TYPE]

See Dave & Mari’s Post about the past few days.

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