Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tangiers, Morocco 3.20.2011 thru 3.22.2011

What a day I have, please excuse any typos I will try to keep them in check, keyboards in other countries differ greatly from ours so you have to ignore the letters written on the keys and continue to type as the the letters are the same as they are at home, basically if you don,t know in your head qwertyuiop asdfghjkl; zxcvbnm your in trouble, you still have to search a lot to get around....the day started off lazy, once again poor sleep, but my body did get some rest, I was out of the room by noon and decided to do a man thing, as ther are coiffures everywhere, so I treated myself to a haircut and a full strait razor shave with face was invigorating, that coupled with my luke warm shower I was ready to go...the experience of having an Arab hold a strait razor to your carotid was thrilling enough...LOL....I headed down to vente biletts & purchased my bus ride ticket to Chefchaouen about 30 km south of here for a 2 hr bus ride tomorrow at noon, the ticket was all of around 6.00 US...after that I flagged a cab he drove me about 4 to 5 miles to the Kasbah to explore, the cab ride was around 1.27 now I am at the Kasbah; looking around; someone told me I had just missed the snake charmers which is very disappointing....first i did the museum. the building alone was thrilling to look at and I have many pics. inside there were antiquities from many periods. none of the descriptions were in English so this was a real testament to my Spanish and Portuguese translating skills. the 2nd language of Morocco is French; you would think it would be Spanish because of its proxi,ity to Spain....Kasbah is the North end of the Medina which is the old town; that is what the word Medina court of the museum was a garden in the zorks b ut it was beautiful tiling; small fountains; vines; pots; incredible doorways....after leaving the museum this kid walks up to me and says his name is Aram?; he is related to ,the cabbie; but just call me Coca Cola because everyone knows me; well he was right because everywhere we went he new everyone; I also suspêct everyone here is related....LOL....well CC took me on a whirlwind tour of the entire Kasbah including shops with agressive sales clerks; a carpet co op where I wound up buying 1 wall hanging for over my bed and 1 bedspread but all I wanted was a flying carpet, after many cups of tea ,with sugar and mint CC took me thru the town and I continued to see magnificent architecture he pointed out to me the better painted homes were the international people, specially the French, from there the same restarunt, which was the same place Achmed lured me to upôn my day of arrival, since I had been there befor I felt as though I knew how to order, so I did; the owner sat with me for a while and we talked, I met 2 of 8 of his children, it is a lovely restqrunt; the tiling is at times overwhelming with all the beautiful dizzying patterns after dinner he asked me iof I smoked then sold me a small bag of what we will call smoke, I treated CC to dinner, he left afterwards with 200 Drms for showing me around....after that I shopped for a while, ran into other travellers I am getting to know, bought myself a nice ring, fed some of the local stray cats with my left over chicken, which the locals seem to like to see you do as someone always praised me afterwards and finally made my way back to my room where I ran into Felix and Martin my 2 new German lads I mentioned earlier....
....later that evening....i met up with felix and martin; we were in the community room watching tv with some muslims from Morocco. after a while we asked for some hot tea which is traditional then went up to the roof of Hostel Marmora to sit for a while and watch the view; we were drinking our teas. by this time laughing and listeniing to all kinds of music; then martin said i wish i had a beer: i told them I was heading downstairs to get us more tea but when i was down there i mentioned the beer. remember there is no beer in Muslim countries: this is a DRY VACATI0N....WELL all of the sudden Achlmed told me in his Arab slash English he could get me some black market beer. so i gave him 200 Dm or US 15.00. and about 30 mins later Achmed came up on the roof with a 6 pack of black market warm beer. i surprised the 2 germans. and we toasted and drank warm beer. smoked hashish until about 1:30 thqt point it was beddy bye for all of us buzzing around on the roof. besides i had a bus to catch the next day at noon to Chefchaouen....
Monday the 21st
....awoke early: early for me on this particular vacation seems to be 10 AM. perhaps due to energy level:::took a quick luke warm shower. wrote some post cards and packed my bags...went downstairs to see if i could find Felix and Martin to no avail...since i was taking a noon bus to Chefchaouen and they were coming to Chefchaouen on Wed. i wanted them to know my Hostel. alas i did not find i left in hopes i will run into them here::::i ran down out of the Medina into the city proper where i was to meet my bus. i had bought the tkts the day prior so i went to the terminal about 2 hours early and checked my larger bag. found a sandwich and Fanta for the bus was a modern bus. AC plush seats.the whole 9 yards, the 2 to 3 hour trip I was about to embark on from Tangier to Chefchaouen cost all of US -.00, can you believe it...the bus made several, about 3 city stops in its 1st hour so the bus filled up but everyone had their own seat with an empty seat next to them. big picture window with curtains...well after dozing in and out of sleep, we were ascending the Rif Mtn chain i was amazed at the beauty i saw out of the window we were so high up in the mountains it looked as though u could touch them, it was absolutly amazing i was feeling euphoric....the strange thing was the euphoria didnt seem to end and i finally came to the realization we were at such a high altitude the O2 was thinning out and i was having a natural high due to O2 deprivation, i felt very high and for a small amt of time I also had a sense of confusion and a little nausea;, but as the bus ride progressed it all leveled out....after about 2.5 to 3 hrs we the bus it was time, once again, to deal with Moroccos infamous GUIDES...along came Mochtar...the bus had left us out at the foot of the Medina, so with Mochtars advice a Swiss girl and I jumped into a mini cab with Mochtar, a driver and the 2 of us went on a whirlwind, speed filled cruis through the zwinding sts of the Chefchqouen Medina or Old Town, this Medina is 10 times more trecherous than Tangiers, this Medina seemed to be cleaner; painted varying hues of rich blues with an occasional splash of bright red or yellow:::this place is amazing and i doubt you can comprehend from this epîstle just how tiny and quaint this Medina is, it is as if someone took all of these clay homes and clayed them together with these tiny walking paths slash roads; no autos in here but the occasional motor remember this city, Chefchaouen; was built on a Rif Mtn top, so there is NOTHING BUT HILLS AND STEPS AND THEY CQN BE EXTRNELY STEEP TOO::on foot Mochtar led us through this com^licqted maze and we dropped the Swiss woman almost immeditly; then climbed hills of stairs for aboutanother 20 mins until we reached my hostel, hiden dozn this far alley way up a zillion steps we are supposed to arrive at Hostel Annsar instead it is Hostel Ann...IT WAS SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL; I was in awe, I mean I have been in some pretty nice and pretty shabby hostels, but this place was absolutly charming; the rooms were made from clay and cement with the same vibrant colors as were outside; each room was neat and clean; had their own complete bathroon, charming doors and windows representative of the Moroccan culture...i was shown 3 rooms on the completely unoccuîed 2nd floor, one blue, one green and the last light green:::the blue room, blue being my favorite color was calling me as it had this magnificent rhawd iron window but just seemed a wee bit smaller so i chose the lightreen room as it seemed a wee bigger, which may have just been the layout of the furniture; but i made it mine, he only wanted 20 Euros but i was out of Euros so I gave him 880 Dhm or Dirhams which is equivalent to US 110:àà for 4 nights. cant beat that now can you....i settled in for about an hour then decided to journey around the Medina with the realistic fear i would definitly be getting lost, after about 20 mins I had shaken off 2 guides but after about another 20 I had 2 who kept trailing me regardless of my objections, one was Mochtar the other Assi, both very nice; after a while i really wanted to be alone but they constantly trail you so I had then, after about 30 mins, lead me back to my room as this was one of the only ways i cold figure out how to really ditch then. nice guys. but i am on vacay a,d ,ot reqlly interested i company that constantly leads me into sales traps....even if u are alone, without a guide, if u stop to look at something the owner or salesperson is there but there is always some sort of a feeling you are expected to negotite a purchase, they do anything and everything to keep you inside the store, leasding u from room to room, floor to floor but u are rarely ever able to browse on your own so it is so difficult to walk down any of the paths because if you look at something at a storefront, and half the merchandise is ouside to lure you, even looking from the outside the sales rep will walk right over to you and strart trying to charm u into the door, so after a while of this and getting tired of this you give up and go home being careful not to notice things in the doorways of stores on your journey home...i did get lost a lot on the way back to my room....i sat in the TV room for a while with a Muslim named Ammen and watched a Saw movie and Hitch with Will Smith then my tummy started grumbling....I had Ammen lead me to this beautiful cottage like resaraunt i had seen earlier where i had a 3 course delicious meal, the soup was a veggie tomato broth with unidentified, but delicious; seasonings; fresh stone baked brick oven bread; Coca Cola then I had this meatball dish, it was a round plate slash dish with about 6 medium sized meatballs in a red tomatoe broth with, once again, unidentified seasonings in the middle of the dish was a flat cooked egg, the meql was cultural and everything i needed, at the end 2 of the largest and juciest fresh strawberries and a nice banana for was just what i needed, i lazily took the quarter mile maze like walk back throught the Medina to my hostel where we all smoked up so,e hashish and watched TV until about midnite then I retired....for now I must sign off as I am tired of typing; need a break; have to figure out how to get the hell back to my room through this maze and find some supper....will write more in a few days as new adventures await me....Michael

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 1 Morocco

It has been a lloonngv trip from the bus to thw ferry 2 flights one to Madrid (which has an impressive aeropuerto) then a connection to Malaga from their several Bus rides around the city then a 2 hour bus ride to Algeciras where i gave up & crashed, the next day, yesterday a beautiful ferry with luxurious leather seats, huge windows, took the ferry to the port of Tangiers from Algeciras then an equally impressive 1 hour or so bus ride to Tangiers, a long journey but now i am
At a destination city so 3 days of rest & sight seeing.....Well this is the 1st night I am getting any rest really, it is 1 AM Tangier time I think 21:00 your time (we are ahead here) the bed is a rock but think that may be cultural, there is only hot water between 0800-1000 (or so j am told by desk staff), the room was 390 Dirhams for 3 nights (1 Dirham = $0.25) what I like is even though I am staying in the actual madira (old town) it is dead quiet & pitch black, I have no view....last night in Algeciras on the Iberian Peninsula there was not much to do.... the photo is on the nice AC bus ride from the port at Tangiers to the medina or "old town" of Tangiers where I met "Achmed", I tried & tried & tries to shake Achmed but like a little last puppy he tagged along, he was an out of work bus driver who wanted to show me around?, I finally gave in after about 30 mins of trying to shoo him off, eventually I began to relent more & more & "A" turned out to be a really nice guy, a family man around 45 years old, one of the vendors told me I could trust him so I finally did & took the "Achmed Tour", we found a hotel after 2 tries I selected one, he took me to all sorts of shops, including food, I could tell he had certain landmark spots he takes tourist too, I was taken to a shop that sold rugs, given sweet tea w/ fresh mint (it is an insult to refuse, I learned that), the rug guy tried to sell me everything but the kitchen sink, he displayed & rolled out over 25 rugs for me, cottons, silks, polyester but I stood my ground & only left w/ 3 chairs, 2 leather bags, 1 lamp & a sofa....BUT I DID NOT BUY A, I kept telling him, "I didn't come to Tangiers to buy a rug, I am looking for soap & a towel so I can take a shower", that didn't stop the sales man though, it WAS right out of a movie....then "A" took me to a traditional Moroccan restaurant where I had this delicious soup (he wouldn't join me even after I insisted), some kind of vegetable laced pie, followed by a chicken wing roasted with potatoes, olives & it was all quite good & once again u couldn't beat the price....from there I INSISTED he lead me back to the hotel room because by this time I was is nothing but winding cobblestone streets, most of the cobblestone uneven, broken, the pathways are at the most 5'-6' (being generous) narrow with towering buildings on either side, which give u the feeling you are actually inside....i gave Achmed 200 Dirhams & sent him on his way after a few hours (somehow i think he might be cpes downstairs in the lobby for my early awakening), this town, it is somehow like being in. Movie.....alright it us 2 AM I am beat....good night....tomorrow I go to the Kasbah outside the walls of the city & maybe on Sunday to "Porto del Herculese" which all looks quite beautiful in photos.....