June 26, 2017

Crossing the Pillars of Hercules

Follow the arrow…

We’ve arrived.

As we mentioned in last week’s dispatch, our mission this past weekend was to exit Spain into Morocco, for a brand new 90 day reset on our visa… and of course, to explore brave new lands.

First off, everything went off with ‘nary a hitch. We ditched the rental in Gibraltar, pre-positioned ourselves in Algeciras, and caught the ferry across the straights of Gibraltar from Tarife to Tangier. Where invasion fleets and cannon balls used to fly, lies a now placid straight mainly plied by sun-seeking tourists.

We’ve settled into our new Air BnB in Tangier, a port city of intrigue. Seriously, it sounds like something out of a spy novel to say, ‘I’m writing this from a cafe in Tangier…’ but right now, that’s literally the case.

Of course, its not all romance and adventure. Landing in a new country is always an adjustment, from piloting the local ATM, to getting our bearings. We did take a ‘tourist day’ Monday to adventure around the old Medina and Kasbash. We checked out the American Legation Museum, the only U.S. landmark outside of the United States. We also found the tomb of the original ‘traveller’s traveller,’ Ibn Battuta, with of course, the help of some enterprising young local residents.

Morocco is at once new and familiar… trappings of the Arab world are everywhere, with a north African twist. I have to remind myself walking around that this isn’t Jordan or Egypt, but something new and exciting in between.

We also did well to ease in from the familiar to the bizarre and exotic slowly, going from the U.S. to Spain to Africa and Morocco. Is the mild culture shock the same for them, landing in Florida as international tourists do, only to meet with endless strip malls and all you can eat buffets?

Silence, like personal space, always seems to shrink and become a valuable commodity in the big city… we love urban life, don’t get us wrong. Places like Bangkok and Tangier can seem overwhelming, but they are also the place to get things done, whether it’s shopping, planning, or just taking in a movie and a KFC chicken dinner.

All in all, we’ve established a beachhead in Tangier before we strike out… our main current mystery is, where do we find alcohol? It seems that Morocco now has shades of the Gulf states, and beer and wine are very scarce. I blame Donald Trump…

This also makes for country number four for us in Africa: D’jibouti, Kenya (both back in our Special Ops days), Eygpt (on our own, twice) and now Morocco. This weekend, we’re striking out via train to the tiny seaside town of Assilah, just 40 minutes west of Tangier… we’re thinking that this will be a relatively painless introduction to the Moroccan train system, and a short afternoon hop. And speaking of no alcohol, Ramadan starts next week, then there’s the thoughts of contending with summer in southern Morocco. Shall we head to the hills to avoid the searing heat? Or fly out to South Africa, for southern hemisphere winter? At least there are cheap flights to London from all major cities in Morocco if we need an easy out…

Stay tuned!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] collective tail, or at least save you from getting in a jam in the first place. We’re on the road in Morocco now, and reading Maria Konnikova’s book The Confidence Game brought back some memories of [...]

  2. [...] exist, just a short flight away. Heck, we saw the same transition, just a dozen miles across the Strait of Gibraltar. Entry into a new culture precipitates the usual drill of learning a new currency, swapping sim [...]

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