I traveled for 20 hours, y'all. First, I had to catch the 22:20 train from Barcelona to Madrid-Chamartin. It reached at 7:20. Then I had to ride the metro to Madrid-Atocha Renfe for my 8:40 train to Algeciras. Then in Algeciras, I had to catch a bus to Tarifa to get to the boat that would take me to Tanger. I didn't reach Tanger until about 15:30 local time. The first part of the journey was the worst. I was in 1st class on the train but those seats are the most uncomfortable things to sleep in. Needless to say, when I got to my hotel, I ate, drank and crashed around 21:00.
The hotel I stayed in last night, Ibis Moussafir, was a really nice hotel. But it was about 11 km from the city centre. Now, I don't know about y'all, but I didn't come to Tanger to chill in suburbia.
So, the first thing I did this morning was check out. The clerk was very nice and recommended another hotel closer to the heart of the city to me. It is called Hotel Solazur. I took a taxi to the hotel. Do you have any rooms? Yes we do. So, can I get one? No, we're not giving out beds yet. Screw you, ya pompous Jeeves. Of course I didn't say that. I instead asked when they'll give out beds. I don't know, came the response. Alright then, can I at least leave my bags here and come back later and check in? That's ok. So, I left my bag and went out of the hotel to start my exploration of the city.
As I left the hotel, some dude walked up to me. Salam. Waleikum wasalam.
Do you speak English, he asks. Yes, I do. Don't stay in that hotel, it's too expensive. Come with me and I'll show you some cheaper ones. Alright whatever, show me the cheaper hotel. We started walking for what seemed like an eternity even though it was only about 30 minutes. Man, this mutha called Tanger is hilly. Imagine carrying two bags, albeit small, and walking up a hill. That was painful. Anyways, we checked out about 3 hotels. Two of them were full, and I didn't like the third one. Finally we found a place called Hotel Atlas. Now I have my own suite, with my own balcony and I'm paying less than I would have at the more expensive hotels.
Abdul, that's the dude's name, turned out to be a guide.
So, I engaged his services for the duration of my stay here. He took me shopping and I got me some Moroccan garb. I don't like looking like a tourist. He showed me some shops where brand names are hand made. Of course they're fake. How else can you buy a pair of diesel jeans for $20? Tanger may be a Muslim city, but it seems incredibly liberal. Sure, you see most of the women in their hijabs, but you see some in western attire too. It seems like a really laid back place. Abdul was telling me about how prostitution is a big thing here. Europeans and Americans supposedly come here all the time to satisfy their sexual desires, whatever those might be. He says Moroccan men even sleep with foreign men, as long as they get paid.
"She works hard for her money," he joked. As some point, we were walking up yet another hill when Abdul quickly ducked into a sweets shop. I thought it was rather strange, but I didn't say anything. He bought some fried sweets, which I didn't have much of a taste for, and we left. Later, he explained to me that he's not an official tour guide and that he had seen some checkers. If they had caught him, he would have had to bribe them about 300 dinars (7.68 dinars = $1).
He took me to his house, where I met his family. I was thinking to myself, this is a damn big house for an illegal tour guide. Probably sensing my thoughts, he explained that the house came from a huge transaction of hash he had with some Germans back in 89.
About 75,000 dinars from that one deal. Sweetness. Whatever keeps you afloat, dude. He also took me to a place where I had some traditional Moroccan dish. It was a'hight. Finally, we went to Cafe Haja (I think it's called) which Mick Jagger supposedly frequents. It wasn't a bad place, just decrepit. It was overlooking the harbour and if not for that damn wind, would have been a good place to chill.
This is going to be an expensive city for me. It's not even a full day yet, and I've already spent at least $700. I've already bought my train ticket to Casablanca, from where I'll fly to Cairo midnight of the 19th.
Abdul is coming to get me tonight around 20:00. He's going to take me clubbing. Tomorrow, we're going to some part of Tanger where I can get more cultured.
Random Thought: People drive like crazy here. If you're a pedestrian, you'd better watch out for yourself. There is some order to the chaos, though. Not unlike Lagos. And there's a lot of "motamba mobiles" here. Some of y'all know what I mean. Simply put, a "motamba mobile" is a diesel mercedes from back in the 70s or 80s.