It’s my last night in Tangier, and I’m really looking forward to moving on to Chefchaoen tomorrow. Tangier is a port city, rough around the edges, and I’m getting tired here. Here are some snippets of the last couple of days in Tangier
– My friend Christine, who was married to a Moroccan and has spent a lot of time here, told me “It might be helpful to think of yourself operating along the etiquette lines of a Jane Austen novel – in Morocco it is actually rude for a strange man to approach and address you, lacking a proper introduction – unless of course you are in harm’s way. Moroccan men know this.” She told me that even if they have business they’d like to transact (offering me a tour, inviting me into their shop) once I’ve declined, it is they who are rude if they persist.
This has helped me so much! Now I walk around feeling properly miffed if they dare to speak to me with neither an introduction nor a reason. No more guilt!
– Yesterday, through the paper-thin walls of the riad, I heard a young woman crying. She was sobbing hysterically for several minutes. I thought it might be the girl from the front desk, and she and I were alone in the house. I wanted to help, but didn’t want to intrude. Finally I decided to take her my last little pastry as a gesture of goodwill. She accepted it with a smile, still sniffling a bit, and offered to make me some tea. Women and food = instant friendship. (Helen befriended me in Cartagena by offering me an orange).
– Last night, around 2am, someone was pounding angrily on the riad door! I waited for the clerk to answer, a little afraid of what would happen next. The pounding continued for several minutes, interspersed with the ringing of the bell. I began to realize I might be alone in the house. What if the night clerk stepped outside to smoke and locked himself out? What if he wanted me to let him back in? I decided that was too bad, he’d need to call the owner. I was NOT going to open that door! I stayed in my room with the door locked until, finally, I heard the door open and voices (a young woman, angry, a young man, much quieter).
– This morning at breakfast, I met the young Englishwoman who pounded on the door. She was a loud, obnoxious creature who was rude to the staff and insisted on talking to me nonstop even though I tried to bury myself in my journal and barely responded to anything she said. It’s been more than two weeks since I last had a face-to-face conversation with someone who speaks my language, and I am lonely. But I’m not desperate! All that solitude has probably made me more sensitive to loud, obnoxious types anyway.
– Today I went to the bus station to buy my ticket for tomorrow. My credit card never seems to work with foreign websites, but that’s fine. I enjoy having errands to run, and a reason to find a new part of the city. At the bus station, a young man named Hakim helped me with the ticket. He also said I am beautiful, and that he has tomorrow off work and would be happy to accompany me to Chefchaouen, and am I married, and he would like to marry me. When we finished our transaction, we shook hands and he said I have cold hands which must mean I have a hot heart. All bullshit, of course, but very healing for my poor wounded ego.
– Had lunch on the pier. Delightful! But I’ll go back for one final dinner at Ismael’s place tonight. I’ve eaten there every night for a week. It’s nice, in my alone-ness, to be greeted as a friend with warm smiles (by the whole family now, and the other regulars) and to be given little morsels of extra goodness like a favored pet. Last night it was a tasty flatbread, the other day a pastry, and always a large glass of tea.
– I searched for photos of Chefchaouen on Google to help me anticipate tomorrow’s move. Google has categorized them according the most popular groups, which include:
– The waterfall (I must go see it!)
– Hash (???!!!????)
– The Medina.
Now I know why everyone tells me the people of Chefchaoen are so laid back! Apparently it is the very center of all marijuana growing in Morocco. Think I’m kidding? Click this link and look at the categories across the top of the page! (click the link anyway, because Chefchaouen is beautiful!)
Time for a little work on the book, then I’ll shower and begin packing!