Hell Train - Ship Ahoy!!
Tangier Travel Blog› entry 18 of 37 › view all entries
During dinner with our Fes guide he said our plans to cross into Algeria and make our way into the heart of Africa were not the best laid plans for two white boys from New Zealand. I was keen to get to CHAD and have my passport stamped on my birthday -seemed a pretty cool idea to me.
Our host insisted that we'd strike problems with officials every inch of the way. I'd spent a large portion of my cash by buying up half of Fes anyway so we were easily convinced that much of Africa would see us facing what we'd faced in the 36 odd hours we'd been in Morocco. We bustled out of his house, gathered our belongings from the YHA and were delivered at the train station.
We bought very cheap 1st class tickets but when the train arrived the 1st class carriage was littered with sprawled africans and our seats seemed impossible to get to with our packs.
I suggested we find somewhere on the train with less traffic. The most obvious place was out atop the roof but that seemed a bit extreme to me and I wasn't sure we wouldn't be pushed off by some of those already riding up there, for want of our packs. I'd obviously become very suspicious and untrusting.
We settled on the gap between the two carriages. We perched on our packs unable to sleep, distrubed only occasionally by someone wanting to get into the very smelly toilet just behind us.
We arrived at Tanger a little after dawn and found we didn't have the cash for a ferry ticket back to Spain. It had been a hellish, what - 48 hours! Wow, seemed longer - but somehow my brain remembered I had 20 pounds stashed away for emergencies, this was surely the time for it.
I went up to the ticket office with my note, then argued with the man about the exchange rate. The man wasn't happy. Darryn wasn't happy. I wasn't happy, but I won and we got our tickets for what I thought was the right price, unfortunately the man said we couldn't get on this boat as it was leaving. Our tickets were for the next one later in the afternoon.
Darryn was now MORE unhappy and wasn't having any of that. Fortunately since the boat had been boarded there wasn't anyone checking tickets etc at the departure gate. We shot out to the gangplank and almost threw ourselves across it as it was being withdrawn.
That must surely have been the most astounding 48 hours of my life! We were both happy to be leaving Africa!
We found a space on the floor of the ferry and I recalculated the ticket price. My arguments had almost cost us the sailing but I'd scored a win of 4 English pence. Oh dear!
It's one of those problems you suffer when you visit countries like this. The locals are so intent on selling you things and the bartering system so intense it makes you over value your money to a point of becoming almost fanatical about it.
In relation to my three rugs, all were waiting for me when I returned to NZ a year later but the last one purchased, at the suggestion I might sell it, had had it's "Extra Superior" label ripped off and stuck onto a budget rug. This cheaper one had less knots and shorter pile.
The crooks who had done this knew I wasn't planning on heading back across the globe to argue. But here we are in 2008 and they still look great spread on my floor -all three of them. Plus, what a story eh?!!