Tangiers – a day trip to Morocco

This morning the taxi driver was hyperactive. Must be this local beer-for-breakfast thing.

We had music cranked up – jiggling and grooving in the front seat – imitation gun shots with the right hand (apparently the music was just like James Bond) – and the following display of English – “welcome welcome” “good morning””it is a wonderful wonderful day” “Tarifa is here to make you happy” “don’t worry be happy” “good hey” “music like film” “just like James Bond” “very much like film” “so happy happy happy” “Tarifa is here to make you happy” (again) – and a long description of how his little son slept in and tried to get out of school

I am serious – this is all true as true as true is true.  I was in stitches laughing by the time I got from the hotel into Tarifa.  Happiness is so contagious.

Grooved into the whale watching place to find out that although they had confirmed by telephone 10 minutes earlier that whale watching was on today – it is not on today.   “Manyana” – tomorrow – weather permitting – but I was assured that tomorrow will be a perfect day.   So I booked.

What to do – I have very little energy this morning – but I am in town now – and next door is the Tangiers-day-trip place.   It is only 45 minutes by ferry, over to the other side of the strait in Morocco, and then I can say that I have been to Africa.

Slightly stressful transit story but will cut it short.   I ended up in Tangiers (eventually). There I found out that my “guide” was a magical invisible person (or just didn’t turn up).

I wandered around the port.  I don’t speak Tangiers-ien.  My return ferry was not till 5pm.

I found a man who speaks French – or he found me.   I remember only some French from school but I was able to explain a little.  The french speaking man spoke to another man, who spoke to another, who made a phone call, and then an old mercedes taxi drove up at a speed of knots and out sprang a  man wearing a striped shirt and a moustache.   He said he would for …….  he hesitated  ……. he sighed ….. he named an exorbitant price ….. give me a guided tour called  “Drive Around Tangiers Big City” – for say – one hour ?- two hours? – three hours?

Stuff it.

I am here anyway.

If I had a daughter and she did this I would be furious with her.

So I got into a taxi, for an exorbitant price, driven by the stripey shirt moustache man, and went on a guided tour of Tangiers Big City.

He speaks the sort of English where everything he says he repeats at least half a dozen times VERY LOUDLY WITH LOTS OF POINTING.

But he is keen to help, and bless him he did nothing untoward and I am back in Tarifa now, safe and sound.  All is well that ends well.

So I saw lots of places in Tangiers Big City – including the school, the post office, the train station, the slums, the “exact point” where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic converge, Hercules Grotto, a private car collection, the fence outside the Kings palace, a lookout on top of a hill, the place where all the TV reception things are, a “crazy” traffic jam, the fruit markets which are not on today, the beach, the disco which is called “snob” and is not on today, the place where they are building a new harbour, the main highway that goes everywhere, the french consulate, the spanish consulate, the place you go for visas, the suburb where the rich people live, multitudes of coffee shops, various places where the King lives, and the camel ride place.

Aaaaah the camel ride place ….

……… the home of “Very Big Strong Man Camel Ali Baba”  …who I had to ‘go for a ride on’ for 5 euros, and wear a little red hat – then I had to buy a small replica of the above for another 5 euros.   For the total price of 10 euros I eventually escaped the camel ride place.

Poor Ali Baba, he was dragged around by the nose by a fellow who kept saying “giddyup Ali Baba” “chop chop Ali Baba” “stop Ali Baba” “aaaahhh good boy Ali Baba” “now Ali Baba please stop” “good Ali Baba” “big strong good camel Ali Baba” …..

The things I endure for the sake of good manners.  The things that Ali Baba endures for the sake of good manners.  Anyway – I can now say I have been to Africa and I have been for a camel ride on Ali Baba.   Ali Baba can now say that he has endured my presence.

Here is a photo of me, and Ali Baba, and the little red hat

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Luckily I have learned over the years when to say “no shopping”.  So the taxi driver tried again and again but I firmly told him “no money – no visa card – no shopping – ship please”.   He lost interest and deposited me at the front entrance of “ship” and would not let me out of the car before paying him.  I was so glad to see “ship”.  It is such a relief to be eventually back in Tarifa.

Not that I was ever unsafe, and in retrospect I was looked after very well indeed.

Here are some photos including a little black cat and a little baby donkey.

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22 May 2012, Tarifa, Spain

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