Sunday, February 21, 2010

tangier 02.19-21.10

We started our day with excitement. We were headed to our next destination! Had a delicious last breakfast in Fes, grabbed some cabs and headed to the train station. And then we found out, the train isn't running to Tangier. It had been raining sooo much, that the train tracks were flooded and covered with mud and dirt and debris. After some translating and maneuvering, we determined that the train was running as far as Kenitra and from there we could take a bus the 3-4 hours further to Tangier. At this point we were mostly concerned with making it back to Marrakesh the night of February 20th in order to catch our first flight toward heading home early the 21st. We decided to risk it, and figured we would take the bus from Tangier and hop the overnight train at Kenitra and pray we make it to Marrakesh on time. Worst case, we buy new tickets and fly from Tangier. Eric and Brie were the masterminds while Janine and I went along for the ride.

We hop the train, and play Harry Potter style again. It was raining, of course. But the sky was so dark on one side of the train, and incredibly sunny on the other. The landscape was absolutely amazing, and we even saw a rainbow. The train moved incredibly slowly, as the water level was high and there were men manually digging out the train tracks. We kept ourselves busy, had snacks, and then it was time to get off the train. Well, so we thought. Apparently Kenitra has two stops, and we ended up getting off at the wrong one. What happened was, we rushed to get off the train. The train started moving before we could get off. Eric hopped off, Janine hopped off, the train is speeding up, I hop off, take a few steps and completely fall and slide along the train platform, and of course after me Brie hops off and lands perfectly. I completely suck! I felt like a huge idiot. My knees had already been impairing my ability to keep up I really didn't need cuts and bruises to add on to it. I blame all the heavy bags I was carrying and that I was off balance. I know that Eric took a picture of me afterward, and Janine was being a mom and cleaning my wounds. It was an experience and one that only I could pull off! So after my trip (har har) we hopped on another train, to get to the next station that we should've gotten off at, and I successfully got off that train without any incident.

We caught the bus which amazingly ended up being not that bad. Also, there wasn't a bathroom on the bus, so another good reason to dehydrate hah. It was packed with people, but it wasn't incredibly smelly or gross. It was rather comfortable, although tiny. Also, apparently the bus driver will pull over and stop if you are hungry and have left your sandwich in your bag under the bus. Because that's what he did, pulled over so this lady could get her sandwich. She was thrilled, the rest of us were confused. We arrived late in Tangier and caught a cab to our final hostel. It was gooorgeeeoousss, and warm. Had clean bathrooms, and showers with shower curtains! (all the others were just a drain and a slight ceramic tiled base. It was really interesting trying to shower without getting everything wet. Also because most of the shower heads weren't attached to the wall. And I think that the shower in Fes was electrocuting me because every time I adjusted the water temperature my entire arm was pins and needles and felt odd. Probably also bad that I was standing in a puddle of water.) After we ran around the hostel and took pictures, we were famished and decided to go hunting for food.

Tangier is the most modern of the 3 cities, so they have places open late and alcohol. We wandered down by the pier for a while and eventually found a place to eat, and by that point we were so hungry we ate everything we could think of to order. We didn't get back to the hostel until around midnight and we immediately crashed. Our final day in Morocco was going to be incredibly busy because we had to see anything and everything in Tangier before we headed home.

I woke up and showered in the most amazing shower, and headed to the top floor for breakfast. It was a gorgeously amazing day. The sun was shining, the weather was warmer (going to be in the 60s again, with some rain. Brie said "partly cloudy" to which my response was "that means it'll be partly sunny!") and we had an amazing view from our table. We met with our guide in the lobby, his name is Mustafa (Mufasa- ish. It always made me think of the Lion King). And he had an action packed day planned for us. Mustafa was incredibly nice, had a great sense of humor, and by the end of the day we had all bonded with him. He even gave Eric his own scarf that he had admired so much, it was very sweet. We started driving around in a van and saw a few mosques, and local houses. Tangier is actually very similar to California. It's on the coast and just incredibly gorgeous. We went to a lighthouse that doesn't have electricity. There is a family that lives there and has to manually light a fire at the top of the lighthouse for boats on the water. Pretty crazy. The view from the lighthouse was looking out over the ocean. It was breezy and sunny and just perfect. Afterward, we got to RIDE CAMELS! (be careful, they spit!) Brie was incredibly excited as she didn't expect to get to ride camels or even really see any (other than the one Eric ate). We all got to ride camels and have a walk along the beach. It was really bumpy, and when the camel stood up or laid down, it was like going up and down on a seesaw. We went to Hercules' Grotto, which is a cave made mostly by water over a long long time. Mustafa took us to the local Casaba (rock the casaba!) which is mostly just businesses and residences and a few shops. For lunch he took us to a local place, that tourists would never go. The food was absolutely delicious. Everything we ate in Morocco was amazing, and also amazing that none of us had gotten sick during the trip. We went to a museum where they had significantly better preservation methods. They also had the best presentation of artifacts. We went to the Continental Hotel, which supposedly was where the movie Casablanca was filmed after. They even said they had the piano from the movie there, but I'm not entirely sure. I'll have to watch the movie again to verify. That evening we had coffee on the roof of the hostel, enjoying the view and relaxing before we began our trip back home. Mustafa joined us and we chatted with him about Morocco and what he thought of his home.

Luckily our entire trip home was pretty uneventful. Loooong, as over 24 hours long, but at least uneventful. We took the bus to Kenitra and got into the train station around midnight. Our train left at 2 or 3AM, and all we could do was sit around and wait. It was chilly and uncomfortable, but we entertained ourselves while we waited. Once we got onto the train and found our sleeper car, Brie and I changed into PJs and sprawled out. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep almost immediately. I'm pretty lucky where I can fall asleep just about anywhere. The train ride was at least 7 hours, and I did actually have to use the bathroom on the train this time. BUT luckily, it wasn't as bad as I feared. It even had toilet paper! Our train arrived around 8am in Marrakesh and we rushed (and I managed not to fall off the train) to catch a cab and get to the airport. The airport was really annoying. We were tired and people were being pushy. We had more luggage going home and Eric was trying to not have to check anything. We ended up having to check a few bags and I was stopped at the security gate because they thought my bag was too big. In reality, I'm just small and my bag was the perfect size. I told them 3 times that I wasn't going to check my bag and they were going to let me through, and they finally did. Then through security they searched through my entire bag and asked me if I had fire. Really, fire. In my bag. Of course I didn't have fire in my bag, and they eventually let me through. Again at the gate, to get onto the plane I was stopped. By this point, I really wanted out of Morocco. She told me I had to check my bag, I told her no I didn't, 3 times. Apparently repeating something 3 times is the magic number in Morocco because she let me through. Finally we boarded the first plane to Barcelona, and on the way onto the plane I notice Mike was in front of me. Mike was our friend from Ireland who also stayed at our first hostel in Marrakesh. He also ended up sitting next to Eric, small world! We caught up with him (and my bag fit perfectly on the plane mind you, like I knew it would) and enjoyed a slightly turbulent flight to Spain.

We had a few hours in Barcelona before we had to board our next plane to Paris. We got food, and it was amazing. Even for airport food, by that point we were so hungry and my snack supply was low. We also, washed our faces and brushed our teeth. It's the little things that make life good. And, being able to drink from the faucet was also refreshing, having clean bathrooms, toilet paper and soap! I ended up sitting in business class to Paris, and had the entire row to myself. It was comfy and I did more reading for class. Eric came up to visit with me for a bit, and there was a baby in the seat in front of me, but she was cute and almost quiet. Went spent probably about an hour in Paris, which was so sad. Soooo close! And most of that time was spent walking to the gate and getting our bags searched about 3 times before getting on the next plane, where apparently my seat was in business class, which might as well been first class honestly. I had a giant seat that reclined, a special dinner and champagne and drinks and you name it I had it! I felt kind of badly because Brie, Eric and Janine were all the way in the back, and I was lonely without them. I found that when you spend so much time with people, being alone again sucks. At least the guy who sat next to me was really friendly and we had fun chatting and watching movies. During some of the flight to NY I snuck back and hung out with Brie, Eric and Janine. Brie and Eric were drunk and dressed up as super heroes! using blankets and eye covers and it was a lot of fun. Once we landed in NY I had to run off the plane and through customs, I had less than an hour to catch my next flight to DC. My knees were screaming in pain with every step but I managed to make it onto the plane. I slept the entire flight home (which was only about an hour). The moment I got home I threw out my sneakers, put all my clothes in my hamper and showered. I slept about 3-4 hours and showered again before heading into work. It was amazing to be back in a clean shower, clean clothes and in my bed!

This was an AMAZING FABULOUS WONDERFUL trip and I had the best time. I can't believe how well everything worked out and how well the 4 of us managed to get along. We laughed soo hard and soo often throughout the entire trip, my abs were incredibly sore. I love all the pictures and the memories and am incredibly grateful I was able to go to Spain and Africa with Brie, Eric and Janine.

View more pictures from Tangier here! and Brie ROCKS (the casaba) for helping me with corrections!! D8>

1 comment:

Brie said...

I'm so glad we decided to go to Tangier!! For a while it seemed like it wasn't going to happen. Eric and I have this magic between us that makes everything turn out ok if we put our heads together.

When I first heard your flight was cancelled to JFK, I was so sad I almost cried... I am SO HAPPY you came with us, you're right the 4 of us got along famously and it wouldn't have been the same without Slowbot. MORE ADVENTURES TO COME!!