an chronicle of my adventures in Ifrane, Morocco and travels within the surrounding area

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aid Al Fitr in Tangier

Given five days off of school for the Aid Al Fitr (the end of Ramadan), we decided to take a tip to Tangier, a tropical paradise at the northernmost point in Morocco, directly across the strait of Gibraltar from Spain.

In the hustle of trying to figure out travel plans a group of about twelve of my fellow students ended up accompanying me on this journey. Though the city was quite beautiful, I think in the future I would like to travel with a group of people I can count on one hand.

If you care to hear me rant on about the Moroccan men (fellow students) who took it upon themselves to be our tour guides and trip planners, well you should probably reconsider, but it'll suffice to say that male condescension and forceful "chivalry" are a constant annoyance in my Moroccan life. However, this blog entry is about my trip to Tangier, which was undeniably beautiful.

Wherever you wander in the city, you won't walk for more than twenty minutes without stumbling around a corner to find a gorgeous view of the city, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the hills of Gibraltar off in the distance. There's nothing quite like seeing two continents at one time.

Traveling a bit away from town brings you to a gorgeous lighthouse with yet another spectacular view

and just a little further on is the entrance to the Hercules Cave! Despite many attempts, I was unable to capture a photo that truly shows the magnitude of the waves that crashed into the cave intermittently, but I at least managed to show its picturesque nature. I wish I had been there at sunset, though I could have bought any number of different sunset photos from one of the many vendors in the cave, who accepted Dirhams, Euros, and even accepted a Pound from me after a little convincing.

After visiting the cave we headed down the road to possibly the most beautiful beach I have ever seen on the Atlantic side of the city.

Though the waves were incredibly powerful, the salt water miraculously turned a group of irritated, snappy travelers into giddy children.

After a whirlwind of a day when we first arrived, we spent our remaining time leisurely strolling along the Mediterranean beaches

and wandering through the old medina shopping for souvenirs and exploring the winding alleyways.

Every once in a while you'll stumble upon a gem like this across from a pile of trash. It's really an incredible place.

At night there wasn't much to do, as the Aid is a family holiday most people spend at home which means that the clubs lining the road along the beach (the Moroccan equivalent to Ocean Drive) were all closed. We did however find a food court with sushi and three different tiny carnivals (which I fear may be stocked with rides that no longer meet US regulations, but such things must be ignored). Bumper cars made for a great end to the night.

However, when it came to the walk back, things got rather shady. I may have discussed before the fact that Ifrane (where the university is) is not really representative of Morocco. Well this became painfully clear as we walked through the streets of Tangier at night. During the day, I got used to catcalls, whistles, and an attempt at conversation from every man who spoke any English (and then some of the ones who didn't). At one point while walking with a group of girlfriends someone yelled out "Beautiful! Sex!" and this was at midday. It seemed that as the day went on, men became more and more forward by the minute. Despite the city's seedy quality, though, I had an excellent time overall. The beaches, palm trees, and tropical climate were familiar and welcome and made for a great adventure.

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