Yesterday we went to Africa. What a strange sentence to write! Bob deserved a break from chauffeuring us all over Southern Spain so we joined a tour group that picked us up at our resort and drove about an hour and a half to catch the fast ferry to Morocco. On arriving we were shepherded into a bus and driven around the coast. We saw the Cave of Hercules with all its lovely views. Unfortunately, the beauty of it was marred by merchants within its walls.
The coast offered a view of the spot where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Tradition says that during certain seasons you can see the demarkation of Sea to Ocean. It all looked the same to me.
From there we headed to the pony rides of Africa – dromedaries. We figured we had monkeys jump on us in Gibraltar, so riding a camel was not a big leap.
After we dismounted the camels the tour went downhill. They took us to a lunch in Tangier. We had been alerted to the danger of pick-pockets in the crowded streets. There are a lot of ways they try to get you. I was listening to our guide when all of a sudden I felt someone bump into me and slip their hand into my pocket. Always on the ready, I squeezed the intruding hand with all of my might and almost crushed the hand of the poor older woman, who was part of our tour, who had slipped and was using me to steady her – or at least that’s what she claimed. It was a little awkward!
Our lunch was good but the “surprise” of belly dancing was cheesy. And then it got worse. We were herded to a carpet store where we had the opportunity to purchase expensive carpets, none of which could you fly around on. After making it out of the carpet arena we were deposited in a “pharmacy” where we could purchase herbs and local concoctions for everything from backaches to laziness.
We made it through those two things without being tempted to make a purchase and then we headed down the streets of Morocco where we were approached by very persistent local merchants who had local jewelry, belt, mirrors, magnets and the like. It was fun and interesting to negotiate with these folks and it gave us a view of a different way of life.
We felt like we were on the movie set of an Indian Jones movie. Even our guide looked like he stepped off the silver screen.
I started looking for the movie director who may have been yelling, “Release the street merchants. Now release the small child clutching a single coin in his hand. Bring in the rain clouds to give reason for our guide holding an umbrella.”
We can now say we’ve been to Africa.
On a related note. I collect magnets of all the states we have traveled to. They are displayed on our refrigerator at home. Once we had a layover in Illinois and I insisted on buying a magnet. Bob said I hadn’t really been on Illinois soil. I said it counts. Our trip to Africa was like that. It counts. Yes, I enjoyed it; but there was so much more to see that our tour did not allow. I’m glad we did it and glad Bob had a relief from driving, but I might just have to return one day.