30 Before 30 – Go to Morocco/Visit Africa (pt2)

Next up, Tangier! Tangier was so much nicer, thank god. We went straight to our hostel, dropped our bags off, and felt the weight literally fall from our shoulders. Tangier is also on the coast, so while it was still about 115 degrees every day, it felt so much more bearable (meaning we could actually step outside).

Our hostel was really cool–I’m confused about my pictures because I feel like I took way more, but I can’t find them! But from what little you can see, not a bad place with not a bad view.

We went to Hotel Continental, which is steeped in artistic history, and was such a cool sight. The whole trip was strange though–we were always the only people wherever we went. Except at the beach! But Hotel Continental is such a tourist destination, it was shocking to find it completely empty. Other than our server we didn’t see one other person in the entire place. Though now it makes sense because I talked to some locals and literally EVERYONE had bailed because of the heat wave. The city was EMPTY.

There was also a cool gift shop run by this guy who knew all the area codes in the major American cities. I got a really cool print, but lost it on the flight home 🙁 I’m trying to contact them to see if I can get a replacement.

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Also, we got a bit lost in the medina (it’s SO confusing), and again a bunch of locals offered to help. Katie, annoyed at being lost and constantly harassed and followed, asked directly how much they wanted to be paid to take us to the hotel. This directness I think caught them off guard, and everyone quickly assured us it was a free offer. We did this the rest of the time and it seemed to work really well.

Below you can see an overhead view of the medina, and what it looks like walking inside–it really is like a maze of alleyways. The bottom two are on the path back to our hostel, which was in the middle of everything.

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Photo credit to Matt Gross for The New York Times

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After a cold drink of water a few rounds of golf, we decided it was still too hot, and we’d head for the beach. This was my first time swimming in an Arabic nation, and it was such a strange experience. I wore a one piece and shorts, and was still completely out of place and honestly, the people there were not happy with me. Then I noticed–women were swimming fully clothed. No special swimwear, nothing. Just jumping in with pants and shirts and everything. (This was when we realized our one piece/shorts combo was a no go, and gave up on the beach.) Also, there was a camel! I’m sure this is for some sad, touristy reason, but it was cool to see. And it was the first time I’ve been in the Med!

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We had a delicious dinner of couscous and tajine, loaded up on local chocolate (try the chocolate of every country should be on my 30 before 30), and went back to the hostel and watched a few episodes of Community while showering in cold water every 15 minutes.

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After a fitful night of sleep (we were on the roof, which was gorgeous, but the only way to have any air flow was to leave the door open… to the roof deck where our fellow travelers were drinking, smoking, and playing guitar until the wee hours of the night), we started seriously considering our next move. We were supposed to head into Fez for a day, which was averaging about 130 degrees, and then Casablanca (about the same as Tangier), and then back to fly out of Marrakech–all in two days. We went through a lot of options–including, honestly, taking a ferry to Spain and getting ourselves a nice, highly air conditioned, room. Eventually we decided to go to Fez as planned, but fly back to London from there a day early. This meant we only missed Casablanca, because as originally planned we got back to Marrakech just in time to catch our flight.

Again, here, we kind of failed. Fez was shockingly hot. I wouldn’t say we had really adjusted at all, but it still blew my mind it could be that hot. It was hard to breathe. No one was outside. One local laughed at us for even being there, saying the people of Fez had left for better weather. We literally couldn’t walk more than a block or MAYBE two without having to stop… you might notice these are all excuses leading to the fact that we found the nearest hotel (pretty far outside the city), got lunch, played golf, I tried a beer, and then went straight to the airport. HOURS and HOURS early, we couldn’t even check in. It was just. so. hot.

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These are the two best pictures I got, and I’m not going to lie to you, they were taken from the cab on the way to the airport.

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We arrived back in London and it was freezing, and I promised myself to never complain about the cold British summers again. I am sad about this trip because I really do think we would have loved Morocco in any other circumstance. It almost feels like cheating to say I’ve been, but then I think about how burned (literally) into my mind it is, and just because I didn’t get to do all the tourist stuff, I definitely experienced Morocco.

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