|finally rode a camel, I mean, dromedary!|
Our last day trip from Benalmadena, Spain was to Tangier, Morocco. All four of us were looking forward to it. For Bill and me, it was our first chance to set foot on the African continent. For Krishna and Daniela, it was to a mysterious, distant land. The tour bus picked us up early from our resort hotel. There were many more that were picked up; we were one of the first!
|the Rock of Gibraltar from our bus|
|wind turbines on a mountain ridge|
The Bus Ride
The trip took us southwest, and we passed some industrial plants. We also spotted Spanish wind turbines on ridges of green hills. But the most intriguing thing we saw on the way down to Tarifa where we would ride the ferry was the Rock of Gibraltar. It was quite visible from the road, past those green hills. There was another tour we could have taken us to the Rock, but we ran out of days!
|leaving Tarifa, Spain|
|arriving in Tangier, Morocco|
The Ferry Ride
A couple of hours later, we arrived in Tarifa, Spain in the province of Cadiz still in the region of Andalusia on Costa de la Luz, across the Straits of Gibraltar. It is the southernmost point of Spain and continental Europe and is known as the most popular destination for wind sports. The necessary departure and embarkation procedures went by fast, and we boarded a ferry that was waiting to take us to Tangier.
|Tangier, blend of the old and the new|
The Camel Ride
After we had said goodbye to the Tarifa shoreline, the ferry took only an hour, and we were in Tangier. After the quick disembarkation and arrival paperwork, we rode another tour bus that drove us through the city. Its population is about a million, and it is roughly divided into three sections: New City, Kasbah, and Medina. The bus drove us through New Town and its commercial and residential districts. Then the driver stopped at a park where several dromedaries were waiting for us. He told us we had time to ride them if we wanted to! The four of us hurriedly took our turns! It was such a thrill!
|a communal water source in the Medina|
The Tangier Medina
The bus then took us to the Old Town, the Medina, a labyrinthine set of cobblestone streets, largely unplanned. Our guide pointed out how several architectural styles (Moorish, Andalusian, and European) are packed together into the small homes and establishments inside the complex. The Medina is atop a hill beside the coast, overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar. Our tour guide let us see what a big project the expansion of the port has become. Moroccan economy as international trading port and zone and even as tourism center has been growing.
Then, he took us to a view of the Kasbah, which looms over the Medina. The section is comprised of ancient fortifications that historically defended the city and that have been turned into hotels, restaurants, and private homes. Shortly after this, we were treated to a side show of Moroccans cavorting with a cobra and other snakes that came from a basket. I had played with snakes once in Boise, so I gladly volunteered to do it again with the Cobra. Inside the Medina, our guide took us to a small square to show how the community got their water from a common well.
|No, Bill didn't allow me to bring home this yellow carpet!|
|Bill and the two young ladies interested in Moroccan spices|
He also provided us several opportunities for shopping. First, we were taken to a large government center for Moroccan goods where we sat through a presentation and demonstration about various kinds of rugs. Too bad Bill and I didn’t have a huge home. We were then led to a store for Moroccan spices and oils. Now that was more like it for this fledgling cook! Bill and Daniela gladly volunteered to sample the free argan oil massage. All throughout our wandering in the labyrinth, Moroccan vendors followed and pleaded with us to buy. It was okay at first, but then it became quite irritating.
|finally, a Moroccan banquet|
|the couple with the Moroccan band|
A Moroccan Banquet
But the highlight of the day was the Moroccan banquet! We sat inside a hall with our fellow tourists. Before the sumptuous buffet of eat-all-you-can and served Moroccan soup, Moroccan salad, and Moroccan beef stew, there were chances to have our pictures taken with a Moroccan “band.” For Bill, the real highlight was the belly dancer who made her gyrations right beside him! It was a great feast, complete with drink-all-you-can Moroccan tea and sweets.
|I caught Bill entranced with belly danc(er)ing|
Krishna and Daniela were both pleased with the last day trip we took. They slept throughout the bus ride home. Bill and I felt good that we had added another continent to our conquests!