T.I.A. (This is Africa)


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Africa » Morocco
September 15th 2008
Published: September 18th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

As if the Running of the Bulls was not enough fulfillments for one vacation I still had 5 days left to drive to Africa and wander Morocco for a few days. So after dropping off Alex and Irish at the Airport, we picked up our new Canadian companion Erin. I don’t think she had any idea what were in store for her over the next few days, but then again either did we. We hit the road from Madrid heading across Spain to Gibraltar, where you guessed it the Famous Rock of Gibraltar lies. It is actually a British colony so when we got there late that night we had to go through customs. We tried to get a hotel here, but everything seemed to be full and expensive so we decided to head back 100 yards into Spain. This place was so small I could hardly believe it was part of a separate country. When we went back across the border the Spanish Customs agent appeared to be looking at my passport a little to long. Then he started ripping off a bunch of Spanish I could not understand and made a handcuff like signal with his hands. I was getting pretty nervous at this point as I had no idea what the problem was. Apparently when I flew in through Paris I never got a passport stamp so I was not authorized to be in Europe. After a few minutes he finally let up back in, but warned us that I can be arrested at anytime. Great…. So we found a hotel and I actually had my first bed in days.

Got up a little late the next morning and were in a mad scramble to return the rental car and get the early ferry in time. After a 45 min ride across the Straits of Gibraltar we were officially in Africa at a town called Tanager. The plan was to get a rental car and head down to a medieval city called Fes, which appeared to be only a couple hours away. Well two turned to 5, but we got to stop at some cool Roman Ruins on the way down and experience 120 degree dry heat with no A/C in the car, which was a experience of its own. Fes was home to a huge walled city like they used to have in Medieval times, which was suppose to be the main attractions there. It was interesting to see the structure of this city of walls. They say it’s really easy to get lost in here as there are like 7000 streets. One thing you notice quickly about Africa is everyone is your best friend and surprisingly they can speak English too. No matter what you are doing someone always has a reason to help you out and of course expect payment for it. This was a little annoying at first, but you learn to ignore it quickly. After the city walk we headed to the train station to catch our train at like 2 in the morning. We paid for the VIP carriage so I was looking forward to seeing what this so called VIP has to offer. I was happy to find out we basically had our own car ad I found my own little room to cuddle up into and hit he hay. That was until more people started coming on the train and after about 4 hours of much needed sleep I got booted into a cabin with 5 other people. When we got in there it was just the 3 of us and a woman and her daughter, soon after a guy came in and I guess his seat was the one the little girl was in. An argument started soon, and all the sudden the guy was sitting down on top of the girl and the mom was just freaking out. For some reason she wouldn’t pull her daughter away and was almost just tempting the guy to sit on her. The whole situation made no sense and this was my first taste of T.I.A., which stands for This is Africa. It is really the only way to understand these strange events that will happen to you when you are here. Since there is no way to describe it is the only thing to say.

We arrived in Marrakesh early in the morning and went in search of a taxi to take us on a couple hour drive to the Atlas Mountains where we would climb to the highest peak called Jbel Toubkal, which was like 4100 meters. Of course the second we got out of the cab the best guide in the mountains was offering us a great deal with meals and porters to the top. Due to a lack of time we went with it and were soon on a mission with two guides and a donkey to the top of this beast. There was not much for trees on the way up as it was a desert type setting of red sandstone. It was cool going through all the small Berber villages in the lower lying areas. The Berber’s are basically mountain people that have villages built into the sides of the mountains. The first day was pretty exhausting, and after a 6 hr hike we made it to the refuge where we would stay for the night. Shortly after dinner we all showered and crashed as I felt like I just ran a marathon that day. The next morning we were up well before sunrise and made our attempt to the peak. This hike was much steeper then before, but not near as long. We made it to the top just after the sun came up and it was quite the site to be above all the clouds like we were. We didn’t stay long as we had more to see in Africa. We took off double time down the mountain and got down the whole thing in about 5 hrs.

We then lined up a taxi to get is to an ocean town called Essouria, where we couldn’t finally relax a little. The cab came right to the lodge and picked us up, the only problem was he was asking for double the going rate. At this point I should of known something was up with this guy. We got him down to the right price and then the adventure began. Shortly after leaving the lodge we were turning a corner and there was a huge pile of stone sitting on the side of the road. Now driving a 1965 Mercedes as he was I thought for sure he would stop and backup to make the corner without hitting the pile, but no way. He just ramped up over it like he was driving Bigfoot. I was shocked, he knocked the stones all over and then this guys comes running down yelling at him and he just shrugged his shoulders and took off. T.I.A. No more then a hundred yards later I hear something rattling under the car and the muffler is dragging on the ground. We get out and immediately Dave and I are ready to get out of this mess and request our money back. He is saying that it is no problem and the next thing I know there are all these guys crawling under the car with cardboard and rope. T.I.A. So going against my better judgment I got into the car and we took off again. This was a grueling 4 hour drive in the heat and the whole time I had to listen to this Taxi guy act as my French tour guide (They speak French there) and though I never responded he couldn’t figure out that I had no idea what he was saying. Over the course of the trip he pulled over a couple times to put water into the radiator and then got pulled over twice by cops and paid off the first one because he had to cabbie license and on the second one we got out of the cab and let him figure it out.

So we arrived in Essouria…barely, but I was happy to see the ocean and feel the breeze. We got a hotel right away and checked out the town for dinner. Now this area is known for the wind and I heard that there is some kite surfing that goes on so I was pretty anxious to rent some gear and give er a whirl. The next morning the wind was howling. I got some gear and headed for the beach. Within minutes I was all set up and having a local guy help me launch the kite, when all the sudden I see this 4 wheeler coming full speed right at my lines. Now imagine 4 thousand pound plus lines stretched out across the beach with one end attached to me and other to the taunt kite. This guy was going full bore right into him and I though for sure he is going to get seriously messed up. Wham. T.I.A. He shot right through them breaking the line and sending the gear everywhere. He quickly turned around to see what the hell happened. That’s when I saw it was a COP and I was getting a little nervous again as I started thinking about what a jail in Africa might be like. Now this cop was an idiot, as he knew this was the kite surf area of the beach and
Sleezy SalesmanSleezy SalesmanSleezy Salesman

This guys trying to give us his pitch on all these spices and telling us the qualities of herbal viagra
he shouldn’t be going through so fast, but he seemed to think it was our fault and he came back and raised hell for an hour with multiple other cops coming into the picture. I kind of snuck out of the situation as the kite instructor’s took over the argument. I had a good go at kiting that day, but the wind was a little overpowering for me so the session didn’t last to long, but it was well worth it. After a day at the beach we took a tour around the big fishing boats in the marina and enjoyed a great meal of some sort of fish that was served full with skin and all on my plate.

The next morning we were up early to get back to Marrakesh to catch out flights and I had a few extra hours so I went and on a self guided tour around the markets in Marrakesh. There were full of snake charmers, musicians, magic carpets, and tour guides of course. I had a nice sweaty stroll though all the markets and only got harassed by one guy that I refused to pay for taking a picture of
Waiting GameWaiting GameWaiting Game

Trying to get comfortable at the train station as we waited four hours. I was so tired I actually fell asleep in that awkward position
the snakes. I eventually just put my video camera right in his face until he went away. And that was it. Its hard to believe that Spain/Africa trip only lasted 10 days a it felt much longer like these trips normally do. Though it was not as exciting as running with the bulls, it gave me a great taste of Africa and left me wanting to come back and trek across the whole country, which I hope to do someday soon. Ill keep you posted on that one.

I also have a movie I just finished, but it is a little big for You Tube. You can download it from the link below

http://idisk.mac.com/reedwhiting-Public?view=web



Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


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Lamb?Lamb?
Lamb?

So he said. Tasted more like a 10 year old ewe.
LocalsLocals
Locals

I told him to stop trying to hit on the local girls
Baby TurtlesBaby Turtles
Baby Turtles

I almost bought this thing and smuggled it home to give to a friend of mine who is a turtle farmer, but thought the risk of an African jail out weighed a good present.
Spices and SkinsSpices and Skins
Spices and Skins

This is a typical sight throughout the markets. All sorts of wierd stuff that cant believe they actually sell. Leopard skin anyone?


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