After our time in Granada, my peers and I drove down to the coast and ended up in the port city of Algeciras. We were staying at the beautiful Hotel Reina Cristina. After a day of walking through the Nerja Caves, my friends and I enjoyed dinner and a swim in the pool ready for the exciting trip the next day.
After breakfast we all jumped on our bus and drove to Tarifa, a small town on the coast, to get on a ferry and make our way to Tangier, Morocco.
Morocco, was one of my highly anticipated stops on the tour. As we boarded the ferry my excitement increased. After getting my passport stamped by the visa officer on board, my friends and I were lucky enough to find seats by the windows with panoramic views of the Gibraltar strait.
As soon as we docked and exited the ferry we were ushered onto another beautiful coach bus. As we made our way over to the bus, we were immediately spotted by peddlers who flocked our group encouraging us to buy whatever they were selling. As we got on, we drove up a small hill overlooking the city of Tangier and the strait. We stopped, and my roommate and some of the other students climbed atop a camel led by one of the locals. I had no intention on getting on top of one of those things and instead enjoyed the scenery.
As we made our way to New Tangier, our guide explained some of the city’s history. Tangier was a hub for Europeans and Americans. The French, Spanish, Italian, and the U.S. each had districts and embassies there. It was a city of trade and exchange of goods and often information. The different districts fostered a multicultural community which offered educational, social and financial opportunities to the citizens of Tangier. While he spoke, I could see the flags of different countries swaying from a top buildings. It was fascinating.
While in New Tangier, we also visited large estates and properties owned by wealthy people including some well known celebrities.
Afterwards, we walked through “Old” Tangier. We passed markets, visited a popular rug store, stopped by ornately decorated mosques, saw beautifully designed archways and more. After lunch, which was a traditional meal that included dates, couscous & chicken, we visited a local pharmacy. As we all sat down, exhaustion seeping into my bones, the owner of the pharmacy introduced himself. As he spoke I looked around the shop, and had an inkling of what he would be telling, rather, selling the group. First, of course, was Moroccan Argan Oil, explaining its different uses and benefits. He moved on to showing us other cosmetic products such as a lipstick that changed color depending on your pH level, a rose cream made from pure rose petals and more. Then he shifted over to herbs and teas, and others. After purchasing some of the products including the herbal tea, we made our way back to our bus and back to the ferry where Spain awaited us.
What I like about Tangier is its openness to some western ideals, and that there is still reverence and respect for their religious traditions and beliefs. However, the excessive peddling while we toured the city was overwhelming and for lack of a better word annoying. But it did not completely overshadow my time spent in Morocco. I fully intend on visiting this beautiful country again.