The friendly folks of Tangier

The friendly folks of Tangier

After two days walking around the Medina (historic part) of Tangiers, I’ve decided that I wasted my energy worrying over the warnings that I’d beharassed. I have been flirted with a little — I may even have accidentally had a date — but no harassment whatsoever.

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The signs here do NOT keep me from getting lost.
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There’s a sign I can read! But no thank you.

 

 

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The street dogs I was accustomed to in Peru have been replaced by cats.

The first day, there were some boys who wanted to follow me around. I would tell them to go away, and they’d say “No problem, Madame, no problem” but they wouldn’t go away. They even waited outside the restaurant while I ate and followed me home! They would have liked to show me the way to square for a few coins, but I wasn’t going to encourage them.

Once, as I passed a group of young men in the plaza, one of them made a sort of kissy-sound. I braced myself, but nothing else happened. He may have been sucking on an olive.

Two or three times, just as I passed very close to a man on the narrow sidewalk, he would so quietly breathe “hello.” Each time it felt deliberately intimate,  very sensual, and my reaction was visceral. I hope I never responded noticably (although it’s hard to keep from smiling when it happens!). I would  keep my eyes down, wait until there was a more respectable distance between us, and then say “hello.” That was the end of it, every time. Fliratious, yes. Harassment? No.

Ismael, who has been my waiter twice now at the restaurant down the street, has already asked me if I’m married, why not, but I’m so beautiful, and let me know that he lives alone in the house attached to the restaurant. My free tea has been upgraded. The first day, I received  a small cup of standard mint tea. On my second visit, Ismael personally selected fresh herbs and directed the brewing of some special concoction for me. The man who came in after me wasn’t offered a complementary tea at all. Hmmmm.

Today I walked all over. Through the Medina, past the harbor (you can see Spain from here!), to the Casbah on the hilltop. People wanted me to look at the things in their stores, but were very polite when I said no. The man I bought a bracelet from yesterday greeted me cheerfully, as did Ismael when I walked past.

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I bought this cute bracelet yesterday. The price was nearly $40 until I walked away. Then, suddenly, it was about $7.
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Also bought this pretty scarf, soooo soft and lovely, with handknotted fringe. Again, paid less than a quarter of the original asking price.

Near the Casbah, some teenage boys again tried to direct me around, but I ignored them and they gave up pretty quickly. The Casbah is home to a fabulous museum that houses artifacts from the stone age through the Roman, Muslim, and Portugese dominations of Morocco. I was only allowed to take photos in the courtyard, but I highly recommend visiting this museum.

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Courtyard of the Casbah. So beautiful — but I’m still sad that I couldn’t take a photo of the incredible Birth of Venus mosaic in the Roman area. She is on a ship, driven by barebreasted water nymphs riding swimming horses. Spectacular!
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In the courtyard of the Casbah.

I  sat for a while in the plaza outside the casbah. The sky is vivid blue today, sun is shining, and seagulls were circling overhead. I stayed long enough to read a short story and no one bothered me in the slightest.

 

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I sat and read near this gate, under this clear blue sky. You can see the coast of Spain across the sea.
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Lots of people walked through the plaza, including these young women. Note the skinny jeans.

On my way down from the plaza, I peered into a restaurant I was considering for dinner, hoping to get a sense of the prices. A man nearby said “It’s open.” When I turned, he introduced himself, pointed me about the apartments he rents on the street (This one is an English lady, she writes books. That one is an Australian and her husband is Swedish.) Then he led me into the restaurant I had been looking at, showed me each room. He introduced me to the staff. He took me to the rooftop, then the terrace. I thanked him and said I was only wanting coffee. He order the coffee for me, pointed to a table. I sat. He sat across from me. How long am I in Tangiers, is it my first time, do I like it, isn’t the sea beautiful, how old am I?

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Rooftop of the Salon Bleu, where I had coffee with a nice Moroccan gentleman.

I drank my coffee and we sat in pleasant silence for a while. Finally I announced that I had to get back to work. He walked me downstairs and invited me to come back tomorrow for some REAL Moroccan coffee on his rooftop, and perhaps I’d like to meet the other writer?

I’m still not sure exactly what happened there.  I’ll have to find someplace else to have dinner tonight. Do you think it will give Ismael the wrong idea if I just go back to his place?

 

Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!

3 Comments

  • Mardi

    March 6, 2014 at 10:02 am Reply

    Such attention from men, reminds me of what it can be like in parts of Italy…… Interesting but unnerving….. My sister is in Centro, Italy right now, staying at http://www.ompio.org/en/culture-and-seminarcenter/welcome-to-centro-ompio. She is part of a working guest program. Her son is at a university, in Milan. She returns back to the states, in March, but, this working program has made it possible for her to absorb herself into what seems like a healing holistic center. Thought you would enjoy checking out the website. I suppose, during your travels, you will eventually find your way to Italy and Greece. As always, your blog is a joy to read. You have a “Warrior Princess/Traveler” in you. Maybe, these flirtatious men will pick up on your protective armor…. Take care, Mardi

  • Catherine

    March 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm Reply

    I used to be friendlier but I think having to be so careful in Egypt has changed that. Always having to be on your guard is so exhausting. I’d just like to have a nice sit down with a cup of coffee and talk about anything and everything. 🙂

    • Lauren

      March 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm Reply

      Yes, you’re wise. It’s sooo hard… I feel like I’m being rude if I just ignore people!

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