Saturday, July 22, 2006

Iberian Adventures Part IV

DAY 9--2 July 2006 Sun
Images of Morocco:
*People walking everywhere
*Herds of animals—sheep, goats, cows—always with a herder
*Casbah—fortified part of town
*Medina—part of town not fortified
*Morocco—population predominantly Berber
*Doctor monthly salary: $900/ teacher $450
*Tangier at one time was an international city

Our morning began with a brief bus tour of
Tangier. For many years, the city was an international zone run by 9 foreign governors + 1 Jewish and 1 Muslim. Morocco gained independence in 1955.

We then took a walking tour of the Casbah—as soon as we entered the walled area, we were besieged by vendors, peddlers & hawkers of various wares—jewelry, clothing, leather goods, carvings. The streets were incredibly narrow, winding around (sense a theme here?) going off in all sorts of angles, up stairs, down stairs, but mostly narrow. We were heading to a government regulated bazaar—but the vendors stayed with us. Finally, one who had been trailing me trying to sell 5 copper bracelets for 20 €—I kept saying no; then he said 15 €, I said 5; he said 10; I held at 5 and started to walk away. So he quickly said—OK 5 for 5 AND my Pilot gel pen. SOLD.

Inside the carpet bazaar, we were first given a demonstration showing levels of quality, how carpets are tied, etc. Good carpets can be shown on both sides. With each new level, a man came out carrying a carpet that he unrolled in front of us. After the demonstration, suddenly a whole group of men appeared, seemingly from nowhere to herd each of us around trying to make sales. There were carpets, brass ware, ceramics, clothing—two women in our tour group had asked Carlin to help them bargain: one had picked a blouse, the other two caftans. As it turned out they did their own bargaining without help (except, I suppose, the moral support).

As soon as we left—once again, the street vendors swarmed. One picked out Carlin, offering a djellaba. Carlin kept saying no, and when we went into an herbalist shop, the street vendors left. The herbalist showed us all sorts of homeopathic items—sort of bizarre—very showman in his presentation. There was a cream or a powder for every ailment: acne, snoring, weight reduction, and asthma. The minute we left the shop, the same street vendor appeared to continue his sale to Carlin. Just when we were ready to leave the casbah and get on the bus, he suddenly agreed to a price, about $20.

Leaving Tangier, we drove slowing past all the new hotels, then drove back to the ferry connection to go to Terifa—back through customs. The bus then began our drive to Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol. We first passed the Rock of Gibraltar where we made a photo stop.

The drive to Torremolinos was a 2 ½ drive, all along the Mediterranean coast. The amount of construction is unbelievable—an explosion of growth. Once at the hotel, we had supper on our own for the evening, so we linked up with a couple from NYC (Lee & Barbara) and two teachers from California (Lucille & Kim). We walked along the beach until we picked out a restaurant. Carlin and I got paella and red wine. A Spanish treat!


DAY 10--3 July 2006 Mon
We had today at leisure, so we slept until we awoke (i.e. no alarm)—after breakfast, we went walking through a shopping area: part NJ shore and part class jewelry stores. I got a white cotton skirt, and we also got various items for gifts.
We stopped for beer, and people watching. We also went looking for a local bank to break a 500 € note.

Once back in hotel, around 2:30 (all the stores closed at 2 for siesta) we relaxed, had a bottle of green wine, and got ready for dinner.

Our tour group went first to Mijas—a charming mountainside village with white washed houses and donkey carts and a spectacular view of the Mediterranean.
Then we drove to Carihuela, a former fishing village, for dinner. We had various fish dishes—clams, sardines, grouper, and calamari as appetizers; then sea bass baked in rock salt.

Carihuela is right next to Torremolinos, so we walked back to the hotel—a 10 minute walk, while the bus took about 20 minutes, since it couldn’t go straight down the beach. I did a quick detour to dip my toes in the Mediterranean.

1 comment:

Yurgen said...

I liked your trip. I hope you really enjoyed your journey. I also have been to Morocco.
Most of all I liked Tangiers. It is beautiful, combining many of the best attributes of other Moroccan cities. Tangier has a rich cultural heritage and is a city full of life. That's why many western people buy in Tangiers property. The city of Tangiers is filled with busy Souks, labyrinthine streets, and overlooked by castles as well as luscious verdant hills. Also Tangier is amazing, especially during sunset.