First African experience -Wild!
Tetouan Travel Blog› entry 16 of 37 › view all entries
We got the night ferry across the Mediterranean from Algeciras to Ceuta. Although on the African continent, Ceuta is still part of Spanish terratory so there was no issue with passports at this time. Darryn had the low-down on Morocco as far as I was concerned and since I was still bummed about the loss of my books I followed his lead.
From Ceuta we headed inland. It was my desire to go to Fes. I've collected hats all my life so naturally had to get my hands on one of these famous lids. The bus trip from Ceuta to our first Moroccan town, Tetouan, was not much fun. We were hungry, tired , and even at this early time of day it was hot.
When we were stopped at the border we were all led out to a small building beside the road. It was no bigger than a guard box. It had a door on the side and two windows on the front. One of the windows was open and it was into this window we were directed to hand our passports.
Call me over-cautious after my recent experiences but it took some coaxing to add my passport to the pile of about 20 that were now on the windowsill in front of the official I could not understand. When he closed the window I was less impressed. Time then rolled on and on. It seemed an age before the other window was opened and the pile of passports (all now stamped) were passed back out to us hot and bothered travelers. Back on the bus and through to the city centre.
I was 24 years old at this time and although I'd been a cop in NZ for 4 years I still actually had much to learn. I know now that countries such as this are filled with people who must make a living by quickly finding someone who hasn't learned how to avoid them yet.
Darryn and I were quickly spotted and "befriended" by a local who asked us what we wished to do, see and buy. Darryn thought a leather bag would be good and when they took us to their "uncle's" shop to check out the leathercrafts I was removed from the room Darryn was in and shown a beautiful selection of rugs.
It wasn't that I was very interested in buying a rug but I had heard it was one of the handcrafts the area was renowned for so I wanted to check them out. When I was shown a selection and asked for my opinion on the colours it was evident my approval of the brightness of the red one meant I was keen to own it. The price quoted astounded me and I was sure if this man was expecting a sale from me he'd best forget the rugs and bring out his range of handkerchiefs.
A mint tea and a good twenty minutes later the price of the red rug had been sliced to shreds and no matter how many times I told the man I couldn't afford one, or I wasn't in a position to carry it through the rest of Africa, he was not detered in the least and somehow I ended up parting with a good wad of my travel fund on a big red carpet that I was sure wasn't magically going to fly me about the continent.
It was then that things got very fast paced. We moved quickly downstairs to where Darryn was drinking mint tea with his new bag but I didn't stop there and was instead bustled out the door and down the road. For some reason we had to make haste if we were going to get somewhere before lunch.
Lots of discussion was then had between my "friend's" uncle and the man behind the counter. A small docket was written out and given to me before we hurried back to Darryn. We were both then taken up onto the roof-top where we were rewarded for our purchases by a look across the old medina of Tetouan before we were given a tour of the modern medina and dropped at the bus station in time to catch the next bus to Fes.
The next point of confusion for me was the demand from the woman sitting on the floor outside the mens toilet at the station. One of the locals finally told me that she had to be paid for the use of her convenience so once that was sorted we had to scramle for our bus. Still no food had been purchased but now there was no time we were off again.
Darryn and I found a seat at the back of the bus. It wasn't really built for the two of us and our bags but the fullness of the old bus made it obvious we had little choice. We pulled out of the station with a capacity load.
By the time we'd reached the outskirts of town we had collected another few passenger and several chickens. The afternoon was hot and the road was now winding up through the mountains. On the second bend the lady in front of us threw up on the floor and the runny mess flowed easily under her seat and though to the back of the bus behind us. The smell was torture in the confined space but windows were kept shut in an effort to keep dust out so there could be little respite.
As the journey continued we stopped frequently to allow more passengers to board. We now had them perched on the armrest of our seat pressing us uncompfortably with boney limbs. Poultry squawked noisily, vomit flowed beneath the seats, dust knocked at the windows. The only relief, if you could call it that, was far too frequently the bus was stopped by Police who insisted on walking through to eyeball us all so all those standing were ordered off to make room for the official. Money then exchanged hands between the driver and the chief and everyone was back on to continue our journey.
It wasn't until the sun had set that we finally arrived in Fes. More hungry, more tired, but well pleased to be off that damn bus!!!!