Hundred Miles (Morocco)

Well, this week has been amazing! For those of you who don’t know (and didn’t catch on to my Facebook posts), I spent the past five nights in Morocco. It was nice to try out not only another country, but a completely different continent. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Africa! So crazy! I still spent Saturday in London, where I spent about four hours carving a pumpkin. Then, Jess and I went into central London to do some shopping and to check out an event called Thrill the World. Basically, it was a planned flash mob where people dressed up as zombies and danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” song (also notice the play on words with his “Heal the World” song). This dance was arranged so that it would be done at the exact same time as multiple cities around the world, and they were trying to break the record for being the biggest Thriller dance in the world (I’m not sure if they actually beat that record or not…). The downside to this is that in London, the dance wasn’t scheduled until 11pm, so it was quite cold outside by the time it actually happened. It was an interesting experience though! The next day, we got an extra hour to our day, as daylight savings time was either starting or ending (still don’t really understand how it works…). That morning, we had a fire alarm mishap, where the fire alarms all went off and we couldn’t get them to stop. I called the agent and about an hour later, he showed up with another guy, who told us it must have went off because of the steam from the shower. Anyway, I spent the rest of the morning packing for Morocco and then I made my way to Gatwick Airport, which is actually a really simple trip from our flat. Going through security was the smoothest process I’ve ever seen. Instead of lining up along the security belt (like pretty much all airports do), they had about 5 or 6 lineups perpendicular to the belt. So people at the front of each line had their own section of the security belt and could easily set their stuff in the bin and set it on the belt.

Then after going through security, you go to the end of the belt, grab your bin and take it to an empty station (there were about 15-20 of them), and then you could take your time putting all your stuff back together, putting on belts and shoes, etc. without having to take up space at the end of the security belt. I was extremely impressed! Once you get through security, they make you walk through the entire duty-free department store in order to get to the gates. It was like walking through IKEA, with the twists and turns, except this time you were twisting and turning through alcohol, perfumes, cigarettes, and watches, among other things. Finally, I made it to the end but here, they don’t tell you the gate number until about ten minutes before they start boarding. I found a quiet cafe to have lunch while I waited to find out my gate number. The bathrooms here were pretty well-organised too. Each sink had its own hand dryer, which was behind the mirror, so you just had to hold your hands under the mirror in order to dry off your hands. I finally found out my gate number and headed over. There, they also did things a bit differently.. They had to scan your ticket and passport in order for you to enter the gate. So then when they actually started the boarding process, there wasn’t a long lineup to scan everyone’s tickets. I think Gatwick has some pretty good ideas that actually work! I flew with Air Arabia, and the flight lasted three hours. It’s so crazy that in three hours, I can fly over multiple countries and reach a different continent whereas from Saskatoon, I’d just make it to Toronto in the same amount of time. The flight started off with a “Travel Prayer,” which I though was kind of cool. The tv screens had English subtitles so I was able to understand what the prayer said. Then the flight started! They didn’t have individual TVs, just the one tv in front of every 4 or 5 rows. They played Mr. Bean’s Christmas special, and then they played a show called ‘Hole in the Wall,’ which is somewhat self-explanatory. Basically there are three people standing in front of a pool of water, a wall comes towards them with awkward-shaped holes in it, and the people have to try to match their bodies to the shapes of the holes in order to not get pushed into the pool. All the players really sucked at it so pretty much everyone just ended up in the pool. I arrived in Morocco at about 8pm but by the time I got through customs and got a taxi, it was about 9:30 when I got to the hostel. I was starving by that point but because it was Sunday night, not a lot was left open so I settled with getting some Pringles to hold me over for the rest of the night. That night, I had a bit of trouble sleeping, as a prayer reminder started early in the morning (they do it six times per day: at 5:15am, at sunrise-6:40am, at noon, at 3pm, at 5:30pm, and at 7pm), so there’s kind of a megaphone that blasts through the entire city and multiple men pray/sing on it for about 15 minutes. During this time, tv’s are turned off and you notice many people wandering off on their own. After the prayer happens early in the morning, all the roosters are woken up and all I hear for the next couple hours are cockadoodle-doos.

Tajine pots!
The next morning (Monday), I had breakfast and then three of us (an American and a Welsh person) decided to explore Tangier together. We just kind of wandered around and got lost in different streets (with a bit of help from the locals, who were intently watching us and would let us know when we shouldn’t go a certain way). The cool thing about Tangier is that next to Arabic, French is the most common language (then Spanish, and THEN English), so I was able to try out my French. Moroccan French is SO clear and so easy to understand, so it wasn’t too difficult to get back into the hang of it, after not speaking it for three years. Anyway, during our walk it started raining so we ran into a close cafe until the rain passed. After that, we were starving so we headed to Cafe Hafa, which was recommended to us by one of the hostel owners. This cafe overlooked the entire Strait of Gibraltar and on a clear day, you can see Spain on the other side. It used to be frequented by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones! It’s well-known for its Moroccan tea (which is offered in every single cafe you go to), which is sweetened mint tea and is delicious – I had at least one every day that I was there! After lunch, we decided to head back towards the hostel and take a walk through the markets. Then, we took a taxi to Hercules’ Caves and timed it JUST RIGHT so we were able to watch the sunset, which was amazing! The story behind Hercules’ Caves is that Hercules used the cave as his resting place after finishing his twelve labours. We were actually quite lucky because they caves had been closed for the past two years, and only reopened a couple of weeks ago. After we got back to Tangier, we joined up with another person at the hostel (a Canadian) and went for a late dinner at another recommended restaurant. We told the chef to make wherever he wanted so he made different types of tajine – a traditional dish, which is pretty much a stew. I got to try shark for the first time! It was good, and didn’t taste like anything other than another type of fish.
Cap Spartel
On Tuesday, I got up and had breakfast. Then me and another hostel-goer went for Moroccan tea and had a good visit. It’s so weird going in some of the cafés because in this one especially, I was completely outnumbered by men. It was completely full and I was the only female in there. We then went back to the hostel, met up with another girl (another American) and the three of us went for lunch. After walking around aimlessly and failing on finding the restaurant that was recommended to us, we gave up and walked into a random one (or rather, the chef walked up to us and urged us to come inside). They served us a lot of food: a salad each, fries each, tajine, couscous, skewers, and mixed veggies – half of which we couldn’t eat. And then when we went to pay, we were all shocked at the amount, as it was the most we’ve ever been charged for a meal. Which made us a lot more careful about choosing restaurants in the future, and making sure we didn’t just let them “make whatever.” After that, the guy left to move onto the next part of his trip, and the other girl and I decided to do some shopping in the markets. I found a few treasures and then stopped myself from buying any more, even though everything was extremely cheap! We went back to the hostel to drop everything off, then met up with another guy and the three of us took a taxi to Cap Spartel, which is a lookout point where the Mediterranean meets up with the Atlantic. After that (because we were in the area), we asked to go to Hercules’ Caves since the other two hadn’t seen it yet. Then on the way back, the taxi driver asked if we wanted to stop by the camels and of course, I said yes! I bartered with the camel guy to let me take a picture on the camel for 40 dirham (about 2.60 pounds). I was just expecting to sit on it for five seconds, snap a picture, and get

off. But he actually got the camel to stand up, and then took us for a short walk. The other girl decided to ride one as well and since the guy had already tried it before, he was our personal photographer and snapped a bunch of pictures for us. Being on the camel was a bit scary haha mostly just when it stood and sat because it bows down really fast, which makes you lose your balance really easily. I also felt like I was tilted to one side the entire time. But it was so cool! Definitely one more thing to check off my (non-existent) bucket list! After we got back to the hostel, Marie and I tried to find another restaurant and once again got lost. A kid told us he’d show us the way and took us on an extremely long walk in the opposite direction. I became more and more sceptical, as I didn’t think we were THAT far off from the restaurant. The kid took us to a completely different restaurant and I recognised it as the restaurant that the hostel owner specifically told us to avoid. So I said we weren’t interested and finally escaped, and then I took her to the restaurant that I had been to the evening before.

On Wednesday, literally everyone left me haha I even had the whole room to myself! But that meant for the first time, I’d be wandering around Tangier alone. Before I got there, I read that it was a touristy place where everyone hassled you, but I had never found it that bad. Probably because I was always with someone else. On Wednesday, I started to notice it quite a bit more. I decided to check out the beach and take a walk along it, as I hadn’t seen it yet. But I also noticed that there, I was followed a lot  more. It was all harmless, but it made it more difficult for me to enjoy myself. Once I got to the other end of the beach, I saw a McDonald’s so I decided to take a break there! I needed to test out the McFlurries, as I do in every country I go to. Unfortunately, they only had M&M and Kit-Kat 😦 nothing too unique. I opted for the Kit-Kat one and then headed back towards the hostel. After hanging out there for awhile, I decided to go back to Cafe Hafa to check out the sunset. It wasn’t as great compared to Hercules’ Caves, but it was still really relaxing! After that, one of the hostel owners took me and his other friend to a sushi place for dinner, which completely blew my mind considering we were in Morocco haha it was really good though!
How can you resist this?!
On Thursday, I decided to see if I could walk to Cap Spartel and then check out the hiking trails over there (since I didn’t want to pay the full taxi fare on my own). I was thinking 2.5 hours isn’t that bad, but I underestimated it and forgot that most of the trek would be uphill. I also couldn’t figure out how to get to the coast, as it was all walled off so I ended up having to walk along the main road, which was extremely hot with no shade and no wind. I guess I should also explain that in Morocco, women are still objectified so it’s important to stay covered in a sweater and pants, and even then you still get stared at and the men try to talk to you. Therefore, wearing jeans and a sweater while hiking in hot weather isn’t the best combination. I made it to a park, and then I was able to cut through the park in order to get to the coast, and then I decided to just head back down into town, since it was way past lunchtime and I was starving. By the time I finally got back and was able to eat, it was around 3 or 4pm. I had a bit of a scare because the night before, I had been playing with the cat that frequents the hostel (but doesn’t technically live there) and it scratched me. So after talking to my mom about it, and her copying and pasting a whole bunch of stuff about rabies from Google, I started freaking out and decided to walk to the nearest clinic. As I waited in the waiting room, I actually started to feel not only scared, but stupid. Out of all the ways people die, I basically risked my life because I couldn’t resist playing with a cat… After what seemed like the longest wait ever, I was finally let in. The doctor seemed confused as to why someone with a tiny cat scratch was sitting in his office. I had no idea what the French word for rabies was, so I had a difficult time trying to explain my concern. Eventually, I think he understood but said I shouldn’t need to worry, as it didn’t look infected. He wrote me a prescription anyway, in case anything changed within the next week. Hoping, it’s nothing though!!!!!!! I went back to the hostel and spent the rest of the night visiting with all of the new people who came for the weekend.
The next day (Friday), I headed back to London 😦 My flight was at 1pm, so I got back to London at 4, and got home around 5. Then, I just did some laundry and relaxed for the rest of the night. Jess is away for the weekend, so I’m going to have to figure out how I’ll spend my Halloween weekend! Hope everyone enjoys their Halloween! Love always
Hundred Miles – Yall feat. Gabriela Richardson

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