Friday, August 2, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 15: The Spain Trip

Sup, y'all!
So my last blog post was on my trip to Tangier, where we'd gone particularly to travel over to Spain for a day or two. Here's the remainder of that trip with suggestions of what to and not to do when you're in Morocco and want to take a ferry to Spain.

It took about 3 mins in a taxi to get to the port, where we had to go to this other place to show our passports and something else (like, I don't remember) and were finally told to go to the actual port--seriously, finally!--where we had to again show passports and tickets and all. It was half annoying. Khair, we finally--no, really, FINALLy--made it to the actual ferry. Now, as much as we'd rushed and were told to hurry up because we might miss it, the freaking ferry didn't leave till like 45 minutes later than scheduled! That was really annoying. But it's okay because that meant more time for photos and stuff in the stunning sight of the sea :)

So here.


Taaa-daaaa! The me!
 It was such a happy, happy thing to do for the self :) Sorries but I took more pics of myself than of the sea or the surroundings, so.

Here are a couple of videos of the ride, too.


Now, although the thing is advertised as a "35-minute ride," it's actually 45-50. Not that I had any complaints about that at all, of course. Approaching Spain ...

I don't know what this is but it's at the port in Spain.
 I think a map of Spain and Morocco here might help demonstrate how close Spain and Morocco are to each other:

You see how there's Tangier and then there's Tarifa so close to each other? Yeah, we went from Tangier to Tarifa in that ferry.

We had been given lots of misinformation, such as that there's nothing in to see or do or no good restaurants in Tarifa, so we did what most of the other passengers did: take the bus (free; the fare comes with the tickets) hanging out outside the port from Tarifa to Algeciras, an Arabic name/word the full version of which is Al-jazira al-khadra ("Green Island"). The ride from Tarifa to Algeciras, we were told, would be hardly 10 minutes. We were advised (by a couple of people, including the folks we'd met on the train from Meknes to Tangier) to go to Algeciras from Tarifa, and then from Algeciras to Malaga or Marbella; Marbella, folks said, would be hardly 20-30 mins from Algeciras, and now I've no idea how the hell these people were estimating their time because that's not even close to the time it actually takes to get there! And on a bus, like we'd been suggested? DUDE! The bus ride to Marbella was an hour a half or so and to Malaga was three whole hours. 

So basically, don't trust anyone with these things. Do all your research your own self, use Google maps to tell you how far each place is from wherever, ask actual drivers how far things would be in a taxi (which I don't recommend at all - they're too expensive) and in a bus. The buses are much cheaper.

So! As it turned out, the people who'd given us any info were totally wrong. Basically, by the time we arrived in Algeciras, it was already evening, since Spain is an hour ahead of Morocco time, and we'd spent about an hour in the ferry and then some time waiting for the bus to leave to Algeciras and then the ride to Algeciras. On the way to Algeciras, we got glimpses of Spain, which suggested the country's very beautiful.

There were cows and goats and stuff.

More grazing animals.

Where the bus stopped us in Algeciras

So we arrive in Algeciras, right, and all these taxi drivers ask us where we're interested in going and they tell us their prices to like Malga or Marbella and so on, and we're like "WHOA! We don't have that kinda money! No way." Oh, and there were a lot of Arab speakers, mostly Moroccans, there, among the taxi drivers. This one Spanish taxi driver comes to us and says, "Do not get a ride with teh Arabs! They will charge you too much and take you on illegal roads and get you in trouble." I suspected that was racial stupidity and may or may not be true, but I moved on. 

So we head to the bus station to see what times and prices there are for our preferred destination. Turns out, the next buses to Malaga and Marbella wouldn't get there till like another 2-3 hours. Since it was already evening and we thought it'd be a whole waste of time for us to wait there and then wait another 1.5-3 hours in the bus, we decided to go back to Tarifa and just roam around the city. Well, that's what we did. Tarifa turned out to be pretty nice, and we weren't disappointed at all :)

Something weird about Spain (that never happens in the U.S. and so it was so disappointing and hurtful - sniff): ALL RESTAURANTS ARE CLOSED BETWEEN I think 2 and 6:30pm!!!! And we were starving! We would ask for a good restaurant nearby, and people would stare at us so strangely and look at their watch or clock and go, "What? Food? Now? Why are you eating now?"

I think it's incredibly dumb of Tarifa, a tourist port city, to close its restaurants at such times of the day, knowing that the tourists might get there at random times and be hungry and need food!

So we decided to head to the port area since we were close by and get our return tickets to Tangier and chill in the meantime. (We figured since everything was so far away form where we were, it wouldn't be a good idea to spend the night there and spend over half a day traveling around on a bus back and forth.)

On the way from the port to Tarifa

On the way back from Tarifa to the port!
This image below was an uncomfortable sight. How does Spain advertise Morocco and the trip from Tarifa to Tangier. It's distressing, I know. "Morocco the exotic," "Moroccan women the exotic, the mysterious, the  veiled." hah. That's not how Moroccan women dress, and green eyes are not the norm among Moroccans or Moroccan women. What a pathetic illustration.

:S This is how Spain advertises Morocco!!

Roaming through the streets in Tarifa. It was nice :)

Some random house I got a peek into (without going into it, I promise. The door was already open.)

This is a common sight in Morocco, Pakistan, Jordan, and it was cool to see it in Spain, too! A car in a street like this.

Food court by the port.

By the port

By the port. Walking here was such, such a delight!

Another food court nearby.

I got a burrito there, and ... it was a bad, bad idea. (I also got sick from it later. #Sadface)

Passed by a talented artist there!

The talented artist, mashaAllah.
So we'd gotten our tickets back for an 8pm ferry. The ferries leave every two hours or so. We ate, and, considering how late the other ferry had left, we headed towards the port around 7:45pm. So we get there and are told, "Sorry, this ferry is closed. You'll have to wait for the 10pm one. You need to be here 30-40 minutes before departure." And disaster ensued. We decided to just enjoy the next hour and roam around some more and get there REALLY early, like at 9, so we don't miss it.

Get done around 9. The sun is still out shining, by the way. Oh, Spain. In fact, the sun was out till like 10pm! That's because Spain doesn't change its time for daylight saving (I think most countries don't). Morocco does it only for/during Ramadhan, and once Ramadhan is over, it changes it to its original time. Pakistan tried it once, heeee heee, and it was a big fail, especially with farmers and folks in rural areas, so they decided never to do it again.

Anyway, so we got to the port around 9. Had to wait in the waiting area till about 9:45 (!!!!!!!!! Like, what the hell). The customs were there to let us go but just didn't feel like giving us access. Come 9:50, come 10, come 10:30, and we're still out waiting in the waiting area. We couldn't figure out why they wouldn't let us go on the earlier one. Maybe there were more people on the earlier one (there were very few, maybe 10 at most, on this 10pm one), I don't know. So we're finally allowed to get on the boat at like 10:40 or something. Then, of course, there was that long wait on the boat. For, like, nothing. 

I made a video of the time when the ferry starts its engine and is ready to leave. 

It was a peaceful and beautiful night. The sea was still stunning. There was no one at the top "floor" of the ferry this time around, so I got to enjoy SO much--and I sang out loud and stuff. It was a happy, happy night, alhamdulilah.

There was a cafe on the top floor, and around 11pm, as is customary in Morocco, the folks were eating their suhoor (early "breakfast" to start their fast). One of the men came out and talked to me and my roommate. Asked us our names, and when roommie told him my name, he goes, "OH! THAT'S A MUSLIM NAME! Is she Muslim?" Roomie said yes. He then brought us some dates and milk :) Image to the left. It was o generous of them. I told you Moroccans are a very generous people. God bless them infinitely.

So. That's all that happened ... I'm writing this from the U.S. now, since I've returned, but I still have at least 3 more blog posts to write about Morocco so I'll continue with these journals till I'm done.

See you all next time!

In peace.


  1. Great blog man, I really love your writing style that you are using for your posts and stuff,

    1. Thank you, Chris! That's so kind of you to say! :)


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