This final post about the 5 most fun things David and I have done is about our weirdly fun day in Morocco. David and I went to Spain, to visit our friend, Dr. Linda Foley, who was teaching psychology at the U.S. Navy base in Rota for a year. While we were in Spain, we decided to take the relatively short ferry ride from there to Tangier, Morocco, for a day trip. Since then, David and I have frequently remarked that the day we spent in Morocco was one of the strangest day of our lives. The colors were unlike anything we had ever seen; from the sky, to the ground, to the clothes people were wearing, the colors were different hues, contrasts, and patterns than those with which we were familiar. And the smells! Oh my! The smells in the places we went were strange; not unpleasant, just different than any smells I have ever smelled before or since that day. From freshly killed meat, to handmade rugs, to exotic spices, the smells were most unusual. Our guide, who spoke to members of our tour in their native language with flawless execution, asked everyone to refrain from taking photographs of certain people because photos are believed by some local residents to provide a window to the soul and thus, are undesirable. David, of course, accepted this request as a challenge to take as many amazingly cool photos as possible without getting caught! The places we went, the sights we saw, the food we ate, and the overall experience of being “strangers in a strange land” combined to make this one of the most perfect days of my life. I am ready to return to Morocco tomorrow, or any day after that; I’ll start packing now!
I don’t know what I expected when we boarded a ferry one early morning in Spain for the relatively short crossing to Tangier. I don’t know what I’d expect if I did it again because it took us to a place so different and unfamiliar than any place we’ve ever visited. The boat was nothing special though it did have a market onboard for souvenirs. Group tours are not the type of thing Melissa and I usually prefer; spending time with large groups of strangers is often uncomfortable for us. But, I think that day, because of the guide, whose multilingualism was amazing, and the safety in numbers phenomenon, the group tour worked! Tangier is a cosmopolitan place. Multilingualism is the norm – making us feel very sheltered in our American point of view. But, the tour went not to the modern world of Morocco, but to the Medina. The labyrinth of streets is overwhelming – one could easily get lost. The guide and his assistants kept everyone together as we navigated the narrow, twisty streets through a market (with lots of “fresh” meat, spices, and vegetables for sale). Then, to a spice market for more immersion into the taste, smell, and health benefits of exotic spices. A carpet shop was, of course, a required stop – but I cannot imagine buying a carpet under those circumstances without considerable study ahead of time. The tour was all very “canned” yet somehow comfortable. And the guides kept the “hawkers” at bay as much as possible – they stayed with our group all day! Lunch was good and included the most heavily clothed belly dancer I’ve ever seen. Then there were the camels. Dirty, smelly, odd looking – especially up close. Some of our group elected to ride them in a pony ride kind of set up. We didn’t want to get that close! The boat ride home had us contemplating all we’d seen and how much more we wanted to see of a world more foreign than any other we have ever experienced.