We love using “medina” and “kasbah” in everyday speech, as you can in Morocco, as in “I’ll just pop up to the medina to get a few things from the souk, and meet you near the gate to the kasbah.” Oh no, we are not in Sweden or Australia any more. No more gazing longingly at Africa across the water…..we have crossed Gibraltar Strait and landed in Tangier, Morocco.
Some new experiences included:
- Being in AFRICA! This continent is new to both of us – and further from the familiar than anywhere we have been together so far. The sounds, smells, sights, and daily rhythms are strange and enchanting, and we are throwing ourselves whole heartedly into the difference! We expected that Tangier may be quite touristy, but this has not been our experience, apart from the fact that of course the marina is full of foreigners, including a surprising number of Aussies!
- Emerging intact after being lost in the slums of the drug capital of Europe, before leaving Spain. I was, and remain, very happy about that. As it turned out, I ended up finding the fishing supplies shop I was heading for! Win win I would say! (The being alive win is a little bigger in my mind, even though the lure I bought did land us our first TUNA!)
- Meeting VIKINGS! You may think that bumping into a viking occasionally is quite normal for me, living with Magnus, but no. We actually met some others who will cross the Atlantic with the Viking Explorers in January as will we, all being well.
- Circumnavigating The Rock of Gibraltar on a bicycle before crossing the Strait.
- Visiting the town of Chefchaouen. It is in the hills of NE Morocco 3 hours bus ride SE of Tangier. Much of the town is painted blue; the reason for which may be to deter mozzies, among other theories. The blue symbolises the sky and heaven, and serves as a reminder to lead a spiritual life. Simply stunning!
- Visiting The Caves of Hercules, where the Greek God reputedly rested during his labours. The entrance to the caves is the shape of Africa!
- Becoming familiar with the many interestIng places in Tangier’s Médina.
- Meeting friendly, relaxed, experienced long term cruisers, willing to share their experiences, tips and a glass of wine. We have learned a lot, and met people who will share our journey south, and then across the Atlantic. As a bonus, we have had shared meals, day jaunts, supermarket trips….all the more enjoyable in good company.
- Our ongoing power problem. Our brand new, top of the range wind generator appears to actually DRAIN our batteries…. aaarghh! Even the clever Swedish engineer Captain has lost some hair and sleep over this!!
- THINKING we had engine failure in the middle of the traffic lane in Gibratar Strait! What we thought was the “engine off” noise was actually the newly installed AIS alarm, which unfortunately has exactly the same sound as the engine alarm! Several more grey hairs…. not to mention a defibrilated heart for the Captain!
- Google mapping it around the medina in a remote Moroccan village – a little hit and miss as you can imagine! But all the richer for the dead ends, suggestions from locals, wild gestures, offers of assistance, you get the picture!
Food and Bevvy Highlights:
- Pot luck group dinner to farewell to our new friends Paul and Lori. Delicious lamb tagine, curry, bbq pork, bread, dips…. perfect!
- Beef Tagine complete with prunes
- Moroccan crepes, kind of like roti? Delish, buttery, moreish, and obviously low fat 🙄
- Khobz – round flattish bread with an almost brioche interior, and a sprinkling of crunchy semolina on top! We ate it compulsively like one would wolf down a fresh white knot roll from the bakery, slathered in butter. Clearly NOT low fat…
- Tuna cerveche – recipe and fresh tuna provided by a French crew with an excess from a big catch; zesty, light and tasty. (and quite possibly better for our health than the crepes/khobz…)
- Mint tea – fresh mint and chinese green gunpowder tea apparently, with lots of sugar, served in a glass. The higher it is poured from the better; it seems.
- Taco, but not as we knew it! From a street stall, a soft roti/crepe STUFFED with a delicious chicken filling like we have never had before. When we asked the cook what this treat was (in sign language obviously, as neither Arabic or French are our strong suits!) he said “taco” – duh, of course!! This shoe sized taco must rank among the best we have had!
- Incredible fresh produce from the souks/ markets. Fish, meat, dairy of all sorts, heavenly fruit and veggies….(we washed these with a vengeance… I am a little nervous about contracting something nasty here!)
- SPICES! I loved buying spices from huge hessian sacks lined up in shops; the rich aromas and vibrant colours were truly intoxicating. And of course there is some fun in not being entirely sure what you are buying, and having to find out one way or another!
- Wind generator taken down, put up, cajoled….etc
- AIS alarm installed
- More flyscreens produced
- Hatch repair number 7 and counting….
The film “Casablanca” is reputedly actually about Tangier, but for mysterious reasons was named after the more southern town instead ?
The aqua blue taxis here are this colour as a reflection of the sea.
Some believe that it was the footstep of Hercules that forged the divide between Europé and Africa, resulting in the Strait of Gibraltar, who knew?