Austin arrived in Morocco and a holiday appeared out of nowhere closing the British Language Academy and clogging up buses and trains to all destinations inside Morocco. Every Morrocan working outside of their home city was traveling back to visit their parents and every Moroccan still residing in their home city was traveling to the beach or some other destination city. In our case they were headed to Chefchaouen and they filled up the buses from Casablanca, blocking our poorly planned adventure to the small blue-washed city in the north.
We reassessed our plans and bought train tickets to Fes with a small and great group from Berrechid consisting of Anna from Germany, Maddie from Australia and David and Austin from Fodenvensel Studios. The day before our train adventure we took a quick trip to the beach town of Mohammadia to get sunburns – especially Anna and Maddie who suffered greatly during the sauna-like train ride to Fes. Fes provided long walks to the old medina and excursions into the largest urban area free of motorized vehicles. We talked to vendors, walked the maze of streets, listened to birds chirping and then returned to our rented apartment in the evening to cook a delicious dinner of nachos for Maddie on her last night with us in Morocco before she returned to Spain.
The group now reduced to three, we bravely approached some folks at a gas station for a ride to Tangier. A nice fellow drove us from the gas station to the edge of the city and pointed us in the right direction. In two rides we made it to the nearby city of Meknes. From there we got picked up by the kindest semi-truck driver in the world who drove us on rural roads to his hometown where we had lunch together. Then he introduced us to his parents and wife. From there he took us to the beach around sunset and we walked on the sand and kicked a soccer ball around before continuing the trip to Tangier where we finally said goodbye to our sweet truck driver friend. That 7-hour ride full of charade conversations (body language being our only shared language) was one of the highlights of the trip.
In Tangier we wandered in the medina at dusk until we met up with a group of 4 of our friends who live and volunteer in Casablanca. We spent two nights in Tangier with Austin totally sick and barely hanging on. The 7 of us made our way to Cape Spartel, the African portion of the opening of the strait of Gibraltar and the northernmost part of western Africa, not far from a sunken island that some believed for a time might have been Atlantis. We walked south along the coast, six of us climbing and scrambling over large rocks while Austin curled into the fetal position at every available opportunity, hoping to rest enough to begin her recuperation. The 7 of us ended up asleep on the beach after a nice lunch, waking up confused as to what time it was and how long we’d all been lying there with sandy hair. It was time to go and we stuck our thumbs out to catch a ride back to the city. A kind man picked us up and we piled into the back of his truck that he uses to transport smelly fish. Most of us made it to Café Hafa overlooking the straight of Gibraltar where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet and it is said to have hosted such writers as Paul Bowles, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, William S. Burroughs as well as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Most days one can have tea on the cliff and look out to the continent of Europe. The day we drank sweet tea there the fog blocked out the sight of Spain.
After Tangier Anna, David and Austin headed to the eastern part of the Moroccan peninsula to the city of Tetouan. The Rif mountain rose up on the southern part of the city and the sun shone down spreading rays across the buildings. At this time Anna got sick too and we all stayed in bed watching movies, coughing and blowing our noses. We hitchhiked from Tetouan all the way back to Berrechid starting our journey at 6 AM and arriving at home base at 6:30 PM. Despite the sicknesses a great trip was had by all. Due to illness we missed a stop at a waterfall oasis but we will be back another time to dive off a cliff through a waterfall into the icy waters below.