SMELL THE JASMINE ummmm…..while enjoying the peace
Weeks if not months ago I said we had done a 2000 mile drive-athon through Morocco …and well yes we had and unless I hurry up and bore you all daft with it, we’ll have to do another in order for me to remember!! SO……
Tangiers has a new ferry port and Morocco has new motorways! Morocco is a chaotic place to arrive in at the best of times – either in Tangiers town where the original ferry port s or if you cross into the country from the border with Ceuta in Spain. This time it was a haven of peace and calm – embarking from the early morning ferry after crossing the Straits was so easy, quiet and hassle free, it made you wonder if you had landed at the right place! Brand new, huge, organised, calm – it is so big that at first tyou were very unsure of which way to go – this way, that way. 10 mins drive brought us to the actual border/customs/immigration – whatever. Normal ‘service’ will resume as soon as possible as the conditions for confusion are already beginning to sprout!
When we turned it, it was to become only one of about 5 vehicles and controlled, steady agitation was slowly creeping in – thank God we only had a normal sized car, because if you were Moroccan and were driving one of those vans or large cars that hurtle down the Spanish motorways (well, some don’t exactly hurtle down as they are so heavily loaded with literally everything apart from the kitchen sink) and covered with the plastic sheeting in whatever is this years colour, then you would be in for a LONG stay – as EVERYTHING has to come off, out and from under! Exactly how it used to be in the good old days of the old customs point and to a curious old bird like me..a brilliant sight to see …watching bikes come off the roof, grandma and kids from inside and the wife with the carrier bags from wherever she has been sitting, with some old sofa which has been tucked goodness knows where…it all has to come off! And after one, probably two and maybe three searches later….it ALL has to go back.
A quick salute from…who?( Is he a policeman or customs officer?) and you can either get straight onto a new motorway which will lead out from the Port gates or like us, a 20 mins drive over the hills to Fndique (which I can never spell right) – for an overnight stay in the IBIS Hotel …a chaoin of hotels which suits us fine especially since my accident…and good value if you check their offers. Fndique is a sea side town which gives you a fascinating view of the Med from the other side and just along from the Hotel there is an interesting ruin of a grand looking ‘colonial’ style building, a reminder of Spanish rule in Morocco. I like the frontage of this typical Moroccan town BUT I don’t like the backstreets of this typical Moroccan town!
You can get straight onto the new, very quiet, fast motorways, which take you to all the ‘Romantic’ souding cities…Fez (I like), Meknes (really interesting), Casablanca (hate, hate hate), Rabat the capital (nice and quiet), Marrakesh (loud, full on and has to be seen) and Agidir (which I don’t like)…then there is Essouaria which is my favourite!
This country never fails to interest and surprise me, it even haunts and tempts me when I am away. It is full on, loud, messy, never stops but I love it. You won’t find ‘Scheherazade’ here, hints of that fantasy world you ‘may’ find or feel especially in the Kasbahs, where your imagination can run riot and you will experience just what you want to experience, even of gossamer thin trousers and veils, bewitching eyes and come hither glances if you close your eyes and drift away. The 1001 nights are not really a reality BUT what you will find and it wraps around me every time is…….CHARM! And Moroccan men have it in ABUNDANCE! And it’s lovely…from rose petals on the saucer holding your drink, to red roses placed in your hand, …..and to blatant and gorgeous flirting at supermarket checkouts……straight into your eyes looks and then you hear this soft ‘Hello’!! I have found that getting older is brilliant, you can have all this coming your way and no sexual undercurrents like when one is you, so relax and flirt back. Since I fractured my hip, I use a stick when out in the street and I get teenage Moroccan girls come and hold my hand……..no, the men never touch (just in case you were wondering). It is a lovely, friendly country – if you let it be. As I said above, it is full on, noisy, communal, loud and fantastic.
But, Casablanca I hate!….there is no ‘Sing it again Sam’ here for me, just milllions of surging people, dirt and mess everywhere..I hate it, hate it, hate it!
However, I love Essouaria, an old fortressed town down on the |Atlantic, which has a lovely bay, harbour and fishing port where you could spend hours and hours, a Souk to get lost in. I could just stay there.
Agidir I am not keen on..it reminds me of…….well, some seaside place in the UK!!
In all, we drove 2000 miles in 11 days and could have stayed longer but I have a cat who I dearly miss when I am not with her.