After returning from the desert, I spent another short night in Marrakesh before boarding the train to Fez. It was the first place I’d visited where I didn’t have a plan (or a place to sleep). After exiting the train station, I was greeted by an “official tour guide” who offered to show me a couple of hotels. Out of curiosity, I asked to see his licence and he showed me a couple of documents, which looked pretty suspect – mostly because they were all in Arabic, crumpled and lacked any sort of official stamp. Nonetheless, since I didn’t have a place to stay, I figured I’d at least see what this fellow could do for me. We went to a few places, all of which were decent, but I wanted to stay at the Youth Hostel because it embodies more of my travel ethos. So, I bid adieu to my guide and found my own way to the Youth Hostel. After checking in, I wandered around the area, picked up some food for the night and noticed that I could access someone’s WiFi from the park near a large and busy McDonalds. I quickly booked my hostel for Seville, checked some email, noted that my arti
The Moroccan heat was getting to me and I didn’t want to spend much more time ensconced in it, so, after a good night’s sleep, I hired a guide to help me navigate through the Medina. In only three hours, I was able to see the Jewish area, interesting rug and fabric cooperatives and the tannery. What I enjoyed about having a guide wasn’t necessarily being directed from one place to another – I enjoy being lost in foreign places from time to time – but the stories and legends he offer. It was also neat to see how the workers prepare all the leather using time-honoured methods and naturally sourced ingredients such as pigeon feces (as a source of ammonia).
After a day in the Medina, I was ready to move on to Tangier, my gateway to Spain. Instead of opting for a comfortable CTM bus (fancy, air-conditioned coaches), I used the less expensive and more adventurous public transit bus. It was not air-conditioned. My refusal to pay a bribe to some random fellow for a seat at the front resulted in me sitting atop the engine compartment in the last row. And, as if that were not enough, problems with the transmission and braking system resulted in a few breakdowns and stretched the journey to 8 hours. Once again, it was much like India: dusty, hot, cramped and really hilarious if you can get past the things that would normally irritate.
After arriving in Tangier, I flipped open the Lonely Planet, and then somehow found Hotel el-Muniria . Apparently, once a popular stop with beat authors like Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg, the hotel was clean, close to the port and a decent place to flop down for the night. There was a nightclub tucked into the basement below, so if you’re looking to shake your thing, this might be the place to stop. I opted for some earplugs and a solid night of rest.
The next morning, I packed my things and headed to the port, where I had my last encounter with “helpful” guides who wanted to help me buy a ferry ticket and exchange the last of my dirham. They helpfully offered me 11 Euros for my 200 dirhams, which is a terrible deal. Usually, you’d get about 17 Euros, but they rely on you not knowing this. I politely declined the offer, at which point I was called a fucking asshole. Nice sales tactic. I’m sure that probably really helps close a lot of waffling deals.
Anyway, I finally boarded the ferry, and after a short delay, we set sail (or set giant hydrojet) for the port of Tarifa, where I spent a few hours exploring. After I’d had my fill of the port down, I hopped on the bus to Seville.