Day 4 of our tour started VERY early in the morning. We had to be on the bus by 7:45 because we were catching a ferry across the straight of Gibraltar to Africa. We left in the dark and by the time we got to the dock the sun was just rising. The ferry ride across the straight was smooth sailing and only about 45 minutes. The boat was very fancy with comfortable seats, a large viewing deck, and lots of overpriced snacks for sail. I went out on the dock to watch Spain disappear and to see Morocco to the south.

We docked in Tangier and grouped together to exit. Morocco doesn't exactly have a customs office, so since we filled out a slip on the ferry we basically just had to scan our bags through something that may or may not have done anything at all. Once again, traveling with 90 people isn't easy, and since Morocco isn't the safest place on earth, we had to stay in the large group the whole morning. Ana arranged for a guided bus tour and guides that would spend the whole day with us. She also told us she had a special surprise! A few weeks ago they took tabs on who was V (vegetarian) and who was C (carne) I decided to stay safe and go with V since I don't really like meat anyway (if only someone would have told me otherwise!) Anyway, she told us that we were all going to enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal, compliments of ESDES! We all cheered, happy to know that we wouldn't be wandering the streets looking for safe, pre-packaged food. 

Our guide, Rasheed, was dressed in Moroccan garb and told us he was the best guide in the city, please. He was indeed a good guide and the most polite arab man I have ever met, please. We drove through the city while Rasheed and his helpers pointed out various points of interest including lots of palaces of people I didn't know. I was also fighting off extreme drowsiness as the bus rocked along the coastline, so some details of the tour are a little hazy.

The two buses stopped at an overlook of the sea where men with camels gave rides for one euro. Like the tourists that we are at heart, I and many others partook in this ceremonial 30-second ride to join thousands of others who can now say "I rode a camel in Morocco!" Later we also were able to join millions of others who were able to claim food poisoning from Morocco, lucky us! But that's a later story.

A few minutes later we arrived at the cave of Hercules where he ripped the continents apart (remember, from Gibraltar?). The cave was actually really cool; it looked out onto the ocean where the waves crashed into the giant opening. 

We were then dropped off in the city center and began a long tour on food winding through the narrowest roads I have ever seen. The entire time, men with items to sell pushed them in our faces and promised us anything and everything for only a few euros. This was the most exhausting part of the day for me. Any time we were not in the bus or in the restaurant, these men pushed items on us all day. Ryan and I succeeded with our "stoic german person" faces and seemed to be left alone. 

The next stop was our surprise lunch at the Moroccan restaurant. This was my favorite part of the day. We finally got to sit, and although we had a very loud arab music concert of our very own, got to rest and chat a bit with friends. We divided into two rooms, veggie and carne. In my room we enjoyed soup, bread, SALAD, couscous with veggies, mint tea, and a tea cake. It was actually all quite tasty. Sadly, none of us bothered to think that the salad had probably been washed in contaminated water and dove right in. Oh, if I could go back. Now that it's four days later, no pasa nada. It's all another story in my book of experiences. 

All too soon, it was time to move on. We again followed Rasheed through the streets, winding up, down, and between buildings so close you couldn't ride a bike through (that doesn't mean people don't try). The shop owners bothered us the whole time and totally turned me off from buying anything at all. If we tried to even glance at one thing, they jumped on the opportunity to follow for several blocks before blank stares turned them away. Ana had warned us of this before and told us not to feel bad because it's just the culture, and if we act friendly we could be in trouble.

Free time was from 4 to 6 but we had to stay in larger groups. My group was so tired that we didn't do much shopping. Most students were meeting in the town square by 5:30, ready to get on the bus and head back to the quiet of the ferry and of Spain. We had an hour to relax on the boat before it actually left, and Justin, Shannon, Ryan and I sat and talked quietly, trying to recover from the exhaustion of the day. 

The ride back was very choppy and many on the boat got very sea sick. Luckily myself and most ESDES students apparently don't suffer from seasickness because all it did was rock me to sleep. Even though Morocco wasn't what I thought it would be, it was still an experience I would never give back. It was dirty, loud, and took all my energy, but it was also so real. It wasn't a bit touristic, all the people we saw were just living their lives. It did make me grateful for Spain and even more grateful for home where cleanliness is a guarantee and Target employees give you plenty of room while you pick out what kind of Trident you want.
Sheri Seibold
10/23/2012 09:07:28 am

Love the baby camel, too cute. And the tiles (in the restaurant of doom) are beautiful. Looks like Goldilocks found the chair to be just right.

And I see that Hercules has met his match with Justin.

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grandma
10/23/2012 09:09:12 am

From Granada to Morocco sounds like an adventure of a lifetime! What an experience. I love the pictures of the Alhambra---in fact, all your pictures are great, the monkey on Justin's head and all! And you told the story so well---felt like I was right there with you. Stay well, Shelby, and enjoy your trip to Paris.

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arielle
10/23/2012 12:52:02 pm

30 seconds or not, it is SO cool that you rode a camel! :D It all definitely sounds like quite the experience!

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