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Christina's Life - Living it!
2nd Oct 2011 - 4th Oct 2011 - Med 2011
Escape to Morocco

At last after 10 days the wind has dropped enough for us to leave the lingering clouds of Gibraltar behind us, we were so excited to be sailing Amy from the most southern point of Europe across to the north African continent, en-route for Ceuta, a colony of Spain bordering Morocco.

Within minutes of leaving we saw a whale in Gibraltar bay, his huge tail disappearing beneath the waves just metres from us, such an exciting sight. We then crossed the 'Straits', 100's of enormous ships and even more dolphins, sailing in big seas and strong winds – hairy. Within an hour or so the hills of Ceuta started to appear out of the mist, more big ships to avoid and then into the harbour, so exciting. Ceuta – the reputed home of Hercules, was a really cosmopolitan city, not as we imagined it. We walked and walked and then stopped for a fabulous steak dinner, 1.2kg between us, needless to say a 'doggy bag' was in order.

Then it was on to Morocco - our ultimate destination this year! But we woke to fog and the wind was due to be blowing in the wrong direction to sail so we decided to stay in Ceuta and cross the border by foot and go to visit Tetouan – Oh and we wouldn’t have missed it for anything – what an amazing experience. At 10am we caught the bus to the border, where we were met by hundreds of people milling about, all with carts or barrow loads of bags and bags – not sure what was in them but a fascinating sight. Through to border control we were met by two men dressed in kaftans and baseball caps – they sorted our passports for the control – we’d just employed our guide without knowing it! On the other side of the border the fog was still thick – quite eerie and suddenly in front of us there were acres of old Mercedes taxis all touting for business. Our guide Norri ushered us into one and told us that Moroccan time was 2 hours behind - so surreal, 11am became 9am and we’d only walked 100 yards!!

We were driven into the centre of Tetouan and then walked into the medina – into another world, it was fascinating, tiny cobbled alleyways with dirty water running down the middle of them – fish stalls on grubby old slats, live chickens running about, old women sitting with their vegetable produce on the ground, old men sitting around chatting, cats everywhere and just so many people squashed into such tiny spaces. Every nook and cranny of both the Arab and Jewish quarters were crammed full of workshops, everyone making or repairing something from shoes to metalwork, exquisite embroidered dresses, stonemasons and in front of the workshops it was just one huge flea market with stalls selling anything and everything – most of which looked like it had come out of the arc! We were taken to the see the Turkish baths, the fires beneath them and the wood piles that fed them and then onto the tannery where the hides were being washed or soaked in water running straight off the mountain. Of course we were also exposed to the houses of the herbs & spices and the carpet salesman – beautiful buildings and interesting sales pitches but got away light although Chris did have a great neck massage in the spice house! We refused to join the Americans & Japanese in the obvious tourist restaurant and got Norri to take us to a typical Moroccan café for lunch, seemed like a good idea at the time, it was really basic & very cheap, no real ill effects …. until the taxi ride back to the border … ooh feeling a little green and also joined in the taxi by another 2 passengers squashed onto the front seat while we had all the space in the back … weird!

Crossing the border on foot into Morocco was fascinating and only surpassed by the return into Ceuta, 1000's of people with their bundles & bags, like hordes of refugees, the long queues; one for men and one for women and Europeans! All queuing in the blazing sunshine creating any bit of shade they could while they waited to be let into “Spain”. We joined the end of the queue but it wasn’t long before the police brought us forward to the front … such discrimination against the Moroccans but we didn’t complain and didn’t look behind!!

What a fantastic time in Morocco, such a shame we couldn’t stay longer but time’s running short and the med winds are not looking good for our return … it’s time to get going back on our way again.

Next: Fantastic Final Fling …. Heading Home!
Previous: Gibraltar…British Pubs, British Food, British People and British Weather!!

Diary Photos

Mist and murk of Gibraltar

Philip at the most Southern point of Europe

Chris at the most Southern point of Europe

The Rock from the south

Lingering cloud over Gibraltar

We've escaped - sunshine at last

Dophins in the straits

Philip with our guide Norri

Gates to Tetouan Medina

Medina market

Turkish bath fuel pile

Modern barbers in an old world

Traditional tannery - washing the hides by foot

Scraping the hides inside

Scraping the hides outside

Old characters

The Kings Palace in the middle of the old city

'Local taxi'

Opulence of a traditional Arab house

Top of Tetouan

Ooh bliss!!

Helping Hercules in Ceuta

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