Continent Hopping: A Day in Africa, Morocco - Part 3
By Eryn Carter on August 05, 2014
After Asilah, we climbed back in the van and ventured back to Tangier, where our adventure was going to continue through the old city.
But first, a stop for lunch at one of the only places open. During Ramadan, most places close during the day since they fast from sunrise to sunset. At sunset, they all open and stay open late into the night.
We experienced true Moroccon cuisine; beef cous cous and chicken pastella. Both were amazing.
The restaurant we ate at
Before actually seeing Morocco, the only way I could envision it was from what I had seen in movies. And let me tell you, it’s spot on. It’s exactly how I had envisioned it. I unfortunately didn’t take too many pictures in Tangier, but did take some with my phone.
Old buildings, small little markets, kids out in the streets playing soccer, the smells of saffron and curry in the air and fresh baked goods everywhere we looked.
Looking up at the backside of one of the neighborhoods of Tangier – not the actual Kasbah
Jamal even took us inside one of the little shops, where they were hand making mosaics for tables. Seeing that process has given me new respect for those mosaics. They were stunning, and each one was so unique. I wish I could have taken one home with me.
As we entered the Tangier Kasbah, you immediately felt as if you had been transported back in time. Everything was close together. The buildings were on top of the other. They had wells in the streets for washing, water, and pretty much whatever else they needed it for. Cats roamed all over. And these cats were tame. Not that we tried to play with them, but they were so used to people that they would just lay there and watch you walk by.
The entrance to the Tangier Kasbah
But the first thing I noticed in Tangier? The smells. The smells changed whenever you turned down another alley. One smell could be curry. The next, baking baklava. Another, you’d get the whiff of raw sewage (hey, it’s an old city… what did you expect!). But for the most part, the smells made me hungry. I wanted to climb into their kitchens and join them for dinner. Thankfully, they were just prepping for their after-sunset meals otherwise, they may have found a new house guest.
As we ventured deeper into the Kasbah, the streets get tighter. And the more people are out on them. We witnessed many tailors working to create kaftans for the end of Ramadan celebrations in some of the most amazing colors I’ve ever seen. We nearly got fishlined by some of the threads and yarns as we walked down hill since they tie the materials to various things to help them from not getting tangled. I wish I had taken pictures of this, because it was certaintly a site I will never forget. It made me realize how much we take for granted our sewing machines and factories. These people were handmaking their clothing for celebration. And they were by far some of the prettiest pieces I have ever seen.
After venturing around the Kasbah for awhile, Jamal took us into the Kasbah Museum, which was a former’s Sultan’s palace. We witnessed the room where they used to store the money and jewels, and the hand painted ceiling, 16th century jewelry, and other ancient artifacts, as well as the Sultan’s Garden that outshone any botanical garden I’ve ever seen.
Then it was off to the Medina where we were taken through the meat market, the fresh produce market, goat cheese market, slipper market, as well as the general market that had a little bit of everything. This was truly an experience to remember with aspects I’d rather forget. The general market that had a little bit of everything was exactly what you would envision. It was crowded. Cars were driving right down the middle of it. People were trying to get you to look at and buy everything they had.
Word of advice: If you say no, don’t look at their product. They will take that as a sign that you are interested.
Let’s just say, we ended up in the market at the hottest part of the day. Not only were we hot, but I was extremely overwhelmed, and got claustrophobic. I’ve never been in that much of a crowd in my life.