Sunday, March 3, 2019


In December I went to Morocco with Kathy, Ric and Rachel. We visited Tangier, Tetuan and Chefchaouen (The Blue City). I enjoyed it so much, I was happy when Laura found a package tour to Morocco for Spanish language students (which we both are, since we are enrolled at affiliated Spanish language schools). We booked it and left for a 2.5 day trip to Morocco on Fri. We caught the tour bus about a 10 min walk from the flat Fri morning around 9am. As expected, the trip was largely populated by American college students in Sevilla for their study abroad semester. The majority had been in Sevilla only about 6 weeks. We were definitely the oldest in the group, but since we've both been teaching at the college level our whole professional lives, the generation gap was easily overcome.

We drove south for about 2 hours to La Línea de la Concepción, a Spanish town that abuts the "British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar". In the bus station I had to take a picture of this vending machine that not only had the usual soft drinks, but also a row of beer. I didn't see any way to prevent vending to the under aged, so local kids must love this place, haha:

Walking out of the bus station, you can see the "rock of Gibraltar" peaking out from behind the buildings:

The park in front of the bus station was cute:

We walked to the border with Gibraltar, waved our passports and got on buses to go out to the tip of the peninsula of Gibraltar. The weather was clear, but windy. The mosque at the point is lovely:

I liked this sign, not only for its information, but for its distinctly British sounding title, "Some of our more regular seabirds":

Situated at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, this lighthouse serves one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world as ships move back and forth from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean:

The rock of Gibraltar is a massive limestone outcropping. The caves of St. Michael are garishly lit, but impressive:

Outside the caves, Barbary macaques abound. These monkeys are all over this part of the rock. They have no fear of tourists. Indeed, despite being told by the bus drivers and tour guides to not interact with them, this bus drive coaxed one of the monkeys onto the shoulder of one of the students in our group:

Here's a monkey on the other side of an iron fence. That worked for me:

In the town of Gibraltar, Laura and I watched some glass blowers make a collection of beautiful crystal vases:

In a small space, you have to make use of every square inch. Here the sidewalk went across the tarmac of the only airport--literally across the runway. When planes landed, traffic signals and gates blocked cars and pedestrians from crossing. After they taxied out of the way, the road would open up again:

Back on the Spanish side, we took a ferry across the Mediterranean to the Spanish town of Cueta which is on the African continent. We even took our tour bus with us:

Here is Gibraltar as we sailed by it on the ferry in the dusk:

Once in Cueta, we got back on our bus and traversed the Moroccan border (which took a looonnngggg time, 2.5 hours) and drove to our hotel in Tetuan (only about 35 km from the ferry port). Here's the view from our room. There was a major road construction project happening right outside the window:

On Saturday, after a hotel breakfast we left around 8am and headed to the city of Tangier. We drove through it, but didn't really stop. Instead, we went to the Atlantic beach and rode camels on the beach. It was pretty cool. The best part is that the kneel down for you, you climb on relatively easily and the stand up:

Me and "my" camel:

Near the same location, we stopped at Cap Spartel, this is the point where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet. Not surprisingly, there's a lighthouse here too:

Here's Laura jawing with some of the students in our group:

 From Cap Spartel, took our bus to Chefchaouen (The Blue City). Here's a picture of one of the many market squares in the medina. The mountains looming behind the city are beautiful:

It's called The Blue City for a reason:

The sunset was beautiful:

After Chefchaouen, we took our bus back to Tetuan for a dinner for the whole group. It included some traditional music, dancing and other entertainment. The dining room was quite ornate. The food was really good:

After dinner, we went back to the same hotel in Tetuan.

This morning we  woke to cool clear weather in Tetuan. We were guided through the Medina of Tetuan:

The medina is a maze of stalls, markets, homes and people. Our guide pointed out this double row of bricks at one point during our walk. He said that two rows means your on a commercial street, one row means residential/dead end, three rows means it leads to one of the seven exit gates of the medina wall:

While interesting, I don't think it really helped me to navigate the city any better, haha.

We stopped at a "farmacia" where the proprietor pitched a variety of spices, oils, perfumes etc to our group. After a while, I left the presentation and hung out on the street with our Moroccan guide. I also snapped this picture of the "convenience store" across the street:

The stall sold a lot of the same kinds of percussive instruments that we observed at our dinner show the previous evening:

Here are a couple of the students we were friendly with during the trip:

These are the hills of Morocco as we drove out of Tetuan and back to the ferry port:

There are public restrooms at the border crossing. The lines of cars are so long and slow that there's plenty of time to jump out and go to the bathrrom. This is a unisex urinal. I've never seen one before, but, according to female students on the bus, they stood on the foot spots and squatted over the hole. When I used it, I just aimed for the hole:

Back on the ferry, we were both pretty wiped:

The bus ride home was uneventful and we made it back to the flat around 8pm. A busy few days, but a fun way to see Morocco.