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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?