Thursday, March 18, 2010

2 Continents, 1 Week! Part 2--Morocco!

So here's the 2nd half of my adventure..

I make it home on Thursday from Dublin around 7:15 PM, I'm not even able to put my HIKING BACKPACK down when Heidi approaches me asking if I want to take a trip to Africa (Morocco, but it sounds cooler to say Africa) that weekend. I'm totally down, obviously, so I'm home not even 5 minutes and have already made plans to leave the next day to another continent!

Friday, March 12th
Heidi, Kelly, and I set off for Africa that day with a tour group called We Love Spain & only knew each other. We were suppose to meet at 11:00 AM and get on the bus, turns out that around 12:00 PM the group of about 125 students is guided about a 1/4 of a mile from our meeting spot to get on the bus. Cool. We take a 2 hour bus ride to Tarifa and from there we waited an hour to board the ferry. It was about an hour ride from Spain to Africa. Once we crossed the Straight of Gibraltar we were STILL IN SPAIN?!? Yes, Spain has a providence on the Northern tip of Af! Crazy. It´s a little city named Ceuta. From there we took a bus about 45 minutes to the Moroccan boarder. The scariest part of the whole trip was at the boarder. We rolled up in our bus to find homeless looking people with huge bags of who knows what, men dressed in cloaks with pointy hoods, and women all wrapped up in floor length dresses and scarves around their heads. There was a strict no picture policy at the boarder. I wasn´t about to try and sneak any pictures like I did in Aracena, I think it would be a bit different getting in trouble in Morocco by the intimidating guards compared to Aracena by some crazy spanish guide. So, we got our passports stamped and a moroccan guard came on the bus to check our stamps, and then we were off! We stayed the first night in a small fishing villiage in a hotel that was totally decked out from the 80's, it was great! Us three girls luckily got a room that had a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea!High rollerz. We were able to unpack and relax for about 20 minutes and then it was dinner time. We ate a vegetable soup (not bad), FISH (really not bad, what has gotten into me??) , mixed vegetables, and for dessert flan! The fish was even all boney and I ate the majority of it?!? Crazy. After dinnner, we retired to our room and fell asleep early from a long day of traveling and we wanted to awake early to watch the sun rise from our balc.

Saturday, March 13th
We woke up at 6:30 ish and sat outside on the balcony wrapped up in blankets and watched the sunrise, it was wonderful! Saturday was a big day for us, we pretty much did all of our site seeing that day. We hit the road early and made our way to ChefChauen. ChefChauen is a city in Morocco that is all BLUE! It was so cool. All of the walls and doors in the city are painted different variations of blue (many photo opts). We had a guide that showed us around the city who was the size of a peanut and absolutely hilarious. He was a tiny man that I wanted to put in my pocket and bring with my everywhere. He took us to an authentic blanket making shop that was totally over priced. So after the tour we had some free time to shop around in the markets. Here is the BIG DRAMATIC STORY....The plan was to look around and then meet back in the middle of the plaza in 45 minutes. So, 45 minutes pass and everyones starting to congregate in the meeting place. Not everyone is there and Kelly wanted to quickly go back to a shop and buy an authentic, hand-made, silk Mocorrocan blanket (how could you not want one of those?!?) So, she asks me if I wanted to come with her, of course I said yes. On our way to the shop where she spotted her beloved blanket, we saw another shop with more blankets so we decided to pop in there. She finds one she likes and starts to barter with the old, Moroccan man. The two finally settle on a satisfactory price when I spot a blanket that I like and then she spots another blanket! So, the bartering begins again! After a couple back and forths, we negociate a final price for the 2 blankets 33 euro. (which is a good price because Toto (our pint-sized guide) took us to a blanket place that was selling the same blankets for atleast 45 euro. Scam.) Okay, so I have one blanket in hand and Kelly has two. We proceed to the meeting place and are relieved to see a group of students there waiting. We walk up to them only to realize that the person leading them around is Manuel from DISCOVER SEVILLA, a totally different tour group. We start freaking out. WE´RE LOST ALONE IN A MOROCCAN MARKET. All I can think about is the show Locked Up Aboard on Discovery Channel, we´re never making it back home to Sevilla! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO?!?! We run up to Manuel and awkwardly explain to him (because we went with a different tour company) that we lost our group and need to get back on our bus. He consults his Moroccan tour guide (who doesn´t seem half as fun as ours) who tells us to take 1 street straight and it should bring us to the bus. As we´re about to run after our group Manuel asks us if we want his phone number. Absolutely relentless with the flirtation. It´s a joke. (Him and 2 other guys who work for the travel agency that caters to study abroad students (mainly girls) is to schmooze them and be flirtatious. So in our time of panic and need, the advances don´t stop. hahahhah.) Anyways, we take off on our own and begin running down the narrow, packed market walkways. We´re dodging people left and right and people are shouting ¨MANTA! MANTA! MANTA!¨(which means blanket in Spanish. They speak spanish in Morocco, fyi) Suddenly, we´re faced with a fork in the road, RIGHT OR LEFT?!, I look to a store owner who is aware that we are obviously lost and looking for our group and he shouts ¨Derecha, Derecha¨(right, right) and motions us in the correct direction, unless it was some kind of trick, but we took his word for it and trusted him. Finally after a 3 minute sprint down the claustrophobic corridors of the market we arrived to the street to see our bus still parked in the same spot. THANK YOU GOD! As we stepped on the bus, we door shut quickly behind us and we drove away immediately. Whoops. Guess we shouldn´t stray away from the group even if we´re being lured in by mantas. But the reason why we were in such a hurry is because the KING of Morocco was in town and the city closes off the streets for him so we could´ve potentially been stuck in Chefksjflkds forever! AHhhhhhhhh. On our bus ride to Tangier (our lunch stop) we actually saw the KING pass us in a parade of cars! Super crazy! He even waved! WOW. Continuing, we arrive in Tangier for our real Moroccan lunch. We are greeted at the door by a bunch of Moroccan hooligans singing and dancing. It was really fun and funny. Our lunch consisted of a large plate of normal salad ingredients, a chicken kebab (which was partly raw), and a large pot of chicken with lemon (the chicken was on the bone and it was like my first night in Sevilla all over again. Gross), and mint tea (absolutely delicious) & a small actual crumbly cookie. It was all good, but I didn´t really eat that much because the first chicken was raw and I´m not a fan of meat on a bone (although I just ate fish off of bones the night before. Whatever) After lunch we go on a guided tour through the market area in Tangier. We went to a pharmacy/spice shop (not Spice like the porn store on the way to Oshkosh). I bought 3 packages of cinnamon. I´m not sure why?? We were being paraded through the market area like a spectacle, stares all around. It was kind of funny except when we passed Moroccan police (?) who were carrying very large guns... We got to one part of the tour which was more dangerous I guess because we had like 4 tour guides? I never really felt that uncomfortable though. Everything was a bit dirty there. There were people who had fresh fruit and vegetable stands, pastry stands, mismatched/already worn shoe stands, hoarding stands where they just collected shit and tried to sell it? (it was literally just random shit. ie: tape players, old school phones with cords, game boys from the 90´s. hahhahah) All of the pastries had huge bee/fly things landing all over them. So appitizing.

After our amussing tour through the Tangier market, we hopped back on the bus to our final destination for the day, Tetuan. We arrived in Tetuan around 9:00 and had 45 minutes to unpack and get ready for dinner. Our room looked like an insane asylum. Everything was the same color, the floor, the walls, the bedding, it was all an off white/tan-ish color. And best of all, there were dead ants all over the ground. YUM. We freaked out temporarily, but thought hey we´re in Africa. Heidi took the first shower. She said it was the worse shower of her life. The shower head was one of those ropey ones you would find at a hair salon, but it had no holder on the way so you had to physically hold it above your head, oh yeah... the water was wukelarm. I went next (I probably should´ve just stayed dirty), it was bad. And there was no blow dryer. Hello Mom hair. We went to dinner with wet hair. Before leaving for dinner we went to the front desk and brought attention to our bug infested room. The front desk sent a little old lady to come sweep up the dead ants and spary some big killer, which was very toxic smelling. We were forbidden to enter our room for a couple of hours. Before our feast we went to a show. Sounds cool right? It was three guys on horses galloping back and forth on the grass in front of us shooting guns? One strange thing. We sat down for dinner feasted on several Moroccan dishes, vegetabley soup, meatballs with eggs (tasted like taco meat), and couscous. It was all really good! During dinner we were entertained with various acts, acrobatic children, belly dancers, and men doing tricks. After dinner we talked to the front desk again about our deathe chamber of a room. After some resistance the front desk attendent finally gave us another room. We carefully entered room and grabbed our belongings, hoping we wouldn´t pass out from the fumes. We went up to our new room. It was a 3 room suite with balcony! No wonder there was some hesitation. There were 2 living room areas that were decorated with an awkwardly small amount of furniture and 2 queen beds. The balcony overlooked some run down bulidings next door, but noneless we weren´t sleeping with dead ants, or so we hoped.

Sunday, March 14th
We woke up the next morning and had breakfast downstairs. I ATE CEREAL. How do they have cereal in Morocco but not in Spain?!? Anyways, I was really happy! We had time that day to do a little shopping. Kelly and I found a watch place and bargined with the guy until we received 2 watches for 5 euro, what a joke. Funny thing is, the joke was on us.. my fake Lacoste watch stopped working 36 hours later. hahaha. Oh well. Sunday was a day of traveling back to Sevilla. We made it back home around 5:30 which was nice because we had exams that upcoming week.

Overall, it was a great experience! I had no idea what to expect going there, but I´m glad I went. Although, I think once was enough for me! The fact that for every 50 men we saw, we saw 1 completely covered woman, it was good to leave and be back to what I have come to know as `civilization´Spain. ChefChauen was definitely the coolest part, but everything overall was neat! I´m thankful I don´t live there!!!!!

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