Sunday, May 3, 2009

3/5/09 Tangier

We got up for breakfast down in the restaurant, which we weren't sure if it was free or not. Turns out it was, or at least we didn't pay. It was solid, lots of breads and even Coco Puffs. There was one very good pastry with soft bread and chocolate inside, a decent breakfast. I came back up and sent in my column, it's funny I think.

We went down to the beach since it was a little nicer out today, the winds weren't nearly as bad, although the waves were still crashing with all the wind. The beach was amazing, crystal clear and the sand was maybe the softest I've been on. Plus there were camels on the beach that I'm sure you could ride for some money.

No one was out tanning or swimming even, but there were a lot of kids playing soccer along the water. At one point, one kid motioned to me (by gesturing for my big hair) and wanted me to play. I turned it down but I really wish I didn't.

We went up into town and wandered around for a good while, trying to find the Hotel Continental. We went up by the pier and started seeing signs for it and followed them up to it.

We walked around inside. It was like finding a hidden temple in South America. On the inside, it was incredibly ornate, with tiles, furniture, fountains, all there but faded in some sense. The place wasn't nearly as much of a dump as I had thought it would be.

We went out to get something to drink on the terrace, ordering mint teas. They are amazing here. It's a nice view of the city from there, and it's still hard to believe I'm actually here.

We then walked around by the hotel and up into the residential area. This was what I was hoping for with every place I've been to - the small streets, beat up boxy houses, clotheslines, this was the old world that I wanted to see.

We ended up coming out on some old ruins of some sort overlooking the water, but were bothered by an man and a kid (these are quite common, they try to give directions in return for money, whether you ask for them or not) so we just went back into town and walked around after stopping and going through the port area.

We came back to the room and I took a quick nap, I'm really exhausted, but that's to be expected.

We went out to try to find Cafe Hafa, where the Beatles, Kerouac, Rolling Stones, among others have gone. The problem with going to a place where you are the only Americans is that not only is there a language barrier (I'm not really sure if most people speak French or Spanish here) but when you Google things, it comes up in a different language. Plus since no one has been here in 50 years, there is no info about here. After some intense searching, we found the street, but no map and it wasn't on our terrible map (we tried to buy one earlier, but they wanted 7 Euros, which would have been the most expensive thing we'd bought here) so we just headed out toward where we kinda thought it was.

First we stopped at a fancy pastry place and got some cakes. I had a really awesome fudge cake and some ridiculous apple pastry with a frosting bird on top. We took them over to a park by a mosque and ate there. Both were awesome (and something like $2 total, everything is so cheap here it's unbelievable).

We then headed up into the hills, following old narrow streets up to the Casbah and finally to a cliff overlooking the ocean, an amazing view. The sun was setting in the other direction so we walked over that way but couldn't figure out exactly how to get where we wanted, so we went over to a cliff and sat on rocks over the ocean, pretty crazy.

We gave up on Cafe Hafa and came down into the city and wandered around looking for a place to eat. It's not easy to find places given the language/vegetarian issues. We couldn't find anywhere so we stopped at the room and got some water before going back out.

We wanted to go to Caid's Piano Bar, which was the inspiration for Rick's Cafe in 'Casablanca,' and a supposed espionage hangout back in the 1940s. We stopped in earlier in the day and it was basically empty, including the piano in the center of the room, so we were hoping it would be livlier later on.

It wasn't. There were maybe 8 other tourists there, and they played Spanish pop music while the piano sat empty. The place looked old and as it was lit by mostly candles, the feel was still somewhat there, it's just to bad that it sat mostly empty. I had a cup of coffe with milk, the most expensive I've had here (about 4 Euros) but probably the best too.

We walked back to a pizza place right by our hotel. I didn't want to get pizza, but it was getting late and my options were really limited. The pizza was interesting, different than anywhere else, the crust a little thinner, the cheese and sauce somewhat more spicy, not so bad. I figured it would be something I'd eat if I actually lived here (everyone else was a local) and for about 3.50 Euros, you couldn't really complain. I also had another mint tea (the real mint leaves is what really does it) and we headed back, exhausted.

I went out try to call home and apparently my phone doesn't work here, so I ended up just walking into the center of town and back.

I felt a lot more comfortable here today, although I'm definitely treated as very foreign. The people here aren't sure if I'm British or French or what, but I really don't look like anyone here. All the men past like 25 look like Borat. Women only go out in groups with other women, it's a huge difference in culture.

The streets were packed tonight for a Sunday night, no idea why. The culture here is very cafe oriented, even when I went out to walk around at midnight the streets were lined with people drinking coffee. I keep thinking about what it would be like to live here and how I sort of want to for like a month or two. It's so different (and cheap). This is the most interesting place I've been to by far.

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