Continent Hopping: A Day in Africa, Morocco - Part 3

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.

restaurant

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.

10520749_10100128460755865_4228308240792597361_nLooking 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.

tangier kasbah 2

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.

tangier kasbah 3

tangier kasbah 4

tangier kasbah

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.

Next step was the meat market {the one thing I’d prefer to forget}. I’m not sticking with this for to long because… well… it was just not my thing. It’s exactly what you would think a fresh meat market would look like. Except when you turn the corner and suddenly you’re faced with camel, goat and sheep’s heads, as well as the other parts of the animal that no one really wants.

Let’s just say I almost passed out. A good mixture of the smell, the sight and the heat was to blame.

We got out of their fast and moved on to the fresh produce market. Much more my speed. Same with the goat cheese, which we learned they shape it by weaving a basket around it, and the slipper market which was a girl’s dream. Sure, there were slippers (flats) but also loads of handmade sandals too!

Before we headed off to the co-op where we would actually do some shopping, we stopped at an English church in the heart of Tangier. It was lovely, and also pretty cool to discover that one of the supporters of the Church was from Winthrop, MA! A little taste of home in Africa.

The co-op was three floors of some the most unbelievable Moroccan creations. One floor was all leather products, another was jewelry, vases, clocks, and wooden items and third was rugs. The shop was nice and cool, and no one else was there. We spent quite a bit of time venturing through and chatting with the shop-keepers, who were happy to help us with our purchases and answer any questions.

coop

Inside the Co-Op

Since we didn’t have any place to put a rug (even though I would have loved to come home with one), we settled for a handmade hassack (ottoman) for ourselves and a few other gifts for family.

On our way out of the Kasbah, Jamal took us to what they know as a ‘common bakery’. Essentially, it’s a small room, with a giant hole dug into the ground and someone cooking. But that place smelled AMAZING. I wanted devour everything they were baking. And the man was kind enough to let us take pictures.

everyday bakery

Before we knew it, our time was up in Morocco. Jamal brought us back to the ferry terminal where we went through passport control to exit the country, and boarded our ferry back to Spain.

After a 10-hour adventure through Morocco, that was unforgettable, amazing, beautiful and enlightening, we couldn’t have been more ready for an ice cold beverage on the ferry ride back.

Along with a few good laughs and amazing memories made with good friends.

To read more by Eryn, visit her at A Glimpse Into Eryn's World

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