Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tangier- More than we bargained for....

The 2 Triangle Square

Adam and I read several articles on traveling to Tangier, Morocco. Some indicated that a paid guide was essential, while others said so-called "guides" were a rip-off and took the joy out of truely experiencing the "real Tangier."  Adam and I have grown pretty confident in our traveling skills in spite of cultural and language barriers...so, we opted for not having a guide.

I would say I was ready to leave Tangier about 15 minutes after departing the ferry. We were hassled the entire time by men wanting us to hire them or buy something from them. I just kept telling myself, "they are just trying to make a living," but the endless harrassment made it difficult to enjoy the city. We remained focused and determined.

One of our guide books suggested the town square (the "Grand Socco") was a must see and even gave the town square the 2 triangles mark (DD) for  favorability (more triangles than any sight in the city), and when we finally arrived at the not-so-grand Grand Socco, exhausted and frustrated,  the two triangles of disappointment made us quite concerned about other parts of the city we were about to encounter.

After being accosted by 3 young men, one of whom was trying to inform us that his father was the king of the Kashah, we grew concerned.  He nearly had us cornered in a part of town where it appeared there was no way out, but to practically run down a narrow, dark corridor.. . . into who knew what.  We  acted quickly and walked at lightening speed all the while realizing that we perhaps had bitten off more than we could chew with Tangier.

So, with tails between our legs and totally disorented walking through a maze of narrow streets and tiny lanes, I was so ready to leave. "But what about the museum?" Adam said with disappointment. My stomach was now gurgling with severe upset. Even with possible mugging and having our bodies dumped into the Straits of Gibraltar, it appeared Adam wasn't entirely ready to give up and  he just kept hoping things would improve. I stood there looking at him, arms at my side, sweaty, tired, feeling sick...wondering what the hell planet he was living on!

In my daze I noticed a tour group meandering by us. I thought Adam said "let"s follow them," which I promptly agreed to, but what he really said was "let's go in the direction they came from."  I decided, if we wanted to live through this experience, we had better tag along. The two young Canadians at the end of the tour group were happy to inform us that the guided walk had been filled with the awful experience of peering into the homes of poor people as the guide tried to put a positive face on it and helped them buy things like cigarrettes and day-old flat bread. I asked, "has all the parts of Tangier looked like this?" He replied with a grim smile, "yes." "Can I go home now?" I wondered as I peered back at Adam as he continued to look at his map...looking for some clue that the city will grow into the magical city he imagined it would be.

We simply gave up. After 5 hours of harrassment and near-death experiences, we paid a taxi way too much money to take us back to the ferry. I guess we aren't as seasoned a travelers as we thought, but we learned some very valuable lessons -- if even only one guidebook recommends a guide, best to have one.  PS...we didn't buy one souvenier, not even a post card. Adios, Anastasia

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