Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag First steps in Morocco
26 november 2016
First steps in Morocco
From Spain to Morocco we’ve sailed with four persons. For the onward journey Lia (captain & owner) and Arnaud and I will stay on board, whereas Ine, a friend of Lia, is planning to fly back home. To make the most of her time in Morocco, she and Lia take off in the morning on the day after our arrival to visit Tanger overland by train. Arnaud and I take it easy and it isn’t until the afternoon that we get of the ship to take a look around in the old town (Medina) of Asilah.
The ship is docked at the inner side of the breakwater, or in other words: at the ocean side of the harbour. To get into town we have to walk around the harbour, crowded with small fishing vessels at anchor, to a barrier with a 1 square meter booth with a police officer. It’s very obvious that he has not seen us before and he is clearly suspicious. We point at the only tall mast in the harbour and tell him we’ve arrived in that sailing vessel. “Nous arrivez a bateau.” And we are from “Hollande… Pays Bas”. Ahhh oui! And since that was about all that I seemed to remember from my high school French – my Spanish being even worse –, the conversation ended there, but at least some trust was gained. We think….. From that moment on a ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Bon soir’ was enough to get past the booth that seemed to be attended 24/7.
We head for the Medina, the old city centre originating from the 15th century when 30,000 Portuguese soldiers took the city and built massive fortifications and a sea wall. About 30 meters after we’ve entered through a side-gate someone walks up to us and starts a conversation. He starts telling us about the murals we see painted on the walls, about the school, about the fortification and about the origin of houses (Portuguese, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.). It takes us a little too long to realise that he is a guide and probably wants to get paid afterwards. We try to shake him, but fail miserably. “No, this way. That way is closed.” His tour leads us past a tapestry/carpet shop, where the owner invites us in to have a look (probably an uncle or family friend of our guide). Unexperienced as we are with these practices at this point, we manage to leave the shop only after we’ve paid €5 – approx. 50 Dirham, which we don’t have yet – for a cloth which is to be used as a towel according to the merchant. After this experience we’ve had enough of the Medina and exit through another gate, but not after paying €5 to our guide as well, since we don’t have any small change to give him.
We wander further through town and notice big differences between on the one hand the Medina – neat, clean and visually attractive – and the street just outside the Medina – lined with restaurants and bars that are clearly visited mostly by tourists – and on the other hand the streets less than one block away. Here the street is lined with grocery shops ranging from small to tiny to ‘no-room-to-turn-around’, with cafes visited only by men, with shoe shops and with phone/telecommunication shops in the same sizes as the grocery shops. On the sidewalk and street local food is sold in farmer’s market fashion, but often without the stalls, straight from the floor, or from the cart (with donkey) with which it was brought in from the nearby rural areas.
It feels like we don’t belong in these streets. We don’t feel threatened or unsafe at all, but we feel hundreds of eyes on us and we conclude that to the local people we are just as odd and unfamiliar as the atmosphere of these streets is to us. We’ve seen enough new shores for one day and head back to the ship.
The next day we spent inside, since it’s raining cats and dogs outside. We watch a movie, play minesweeper and pinball on the Windows XP computer that we use for the OpenCPN programme that provides us with electronic charts for our navigation and clean the ship. In the evening, Lia and Ine return from Tanger loaded with stories, and with a quest. Ine has bought a plane ticket home before realising that she has not got an entry stamp in her passport yet, and has technically not arrived in Morocco yet and therefore probably cannot leave either……
To be continued!