Hello from Morocco, which is what the title of this post means. I arrived in Tangiers yesterday, taking a boat in from Algericas in southern Spain. I spent most of the day walking all over town trying to help my friend John (British bloke I met on the boat) withdraw some money. It was quite the adventure and I highly recommend it as a way to see a great deal of a city in under a day. Find a guy that is completely lost and unable to dial home from his mobile phone and whose bank card doesn’t work. I saw a couple of places where they filmed The Bourne Ultimatum on sight including the cafe where the American girl who is now on Bourne’s side is sitting when her cell phone rings. It’s right before the big explosion. If you need more details than that I’d suggest watching the film.
I only spent one day there but I really liked the vibe in Tangiers. You can feel the life there, if that makes any sense. People all around, moving, talking, trying to earn a dollar even if it means begging or walking with you for 10 minutes and then asking you for money just because. My horoscope the other day said I would be approached with an excellent business opportunity, which I got pretty psyched about. Then yesterday this guy Mohammed (everyone here is named Mohammed) tried to sell me hash but I told him I didn’t smoke. Then he tells me to buy 1 kilogram of it anyway because I can sell it and make ‘good business’. Ha! I am hoping that was not the opportunity that had been predicted for me.
In the evening we sat at a small cafe sipping Moroccan mint tea, eathing shawermas and watching Manchester United beat Chelsea (yeah!) in penalty kicks. It seems like the entire town was watching the game as later in the evening everyone who spoke to us was talking about the match.
Then today I caught a bus out of town and into the mountains to a small village called Chefchaon. Where I was reserving the ticket, I spoke to this travel agent who spoke great English and insisted I speak Arabic, or at least try to. I’m gaining a bit more confidence by the hour with my Arabic, and it helps that I understand French since most people here speak that as well. I’ve found it helpful to tell people I speak no Arabic so their expectations are extremely low. Then it can only go up from there.
I still have my walking stick and people have been amazed by it. Most people just laugh or give me a puzzled look, several people have called me Moses and one guy told me to throw it away because he said people will think i am crazy. He was completely serious. I love it! I imagine I will pitch it as soon as it becomes impossibe to travel with it but until that happens, why not bring it along for the ride?
Three days ago I had never heard of Chefchaon and now I’m here. Kind of cool. I’ve met a few Americans and Canadians who have already been here a few days and they say they love it. A lot of hiking in the mountains and then in the village you get lost walking through the narrow, windy streets of the souk (market) where all the walls and doors are painted blue and you can buy virtually anything, from bras and underwear to apricots to rugs. And of course if you need some of the harder stuff, you can talk to my man Mohammed in Tangiers. It could be ‘good business’.