Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Morocco, part 2

Thanks to the French influence we enjoyed a nice variety of pastries and breads for breakfast at the hotel along with delicious fresh orange juice and hot chocolate. After gassing up we headed out for Tangier via the up and down hills of the Rif Mountains. It was a beautiful drive though cultivated hills and many herds of sheep and goats. Lots of people out working, cutting fodder for animals, tending sheep, returning from school etc. We pulled off at one point to have cheese and bread for lunch. We eventually reached the magnificent hill-side, blue-tinted (more like periwinkle—the color of Sarah’s bed room) town of Chefchaouen. We had hoped to be able to explore for a while, but we needed to save time for Tangier so after a few photo stops we headed out.

 Allah--God, al-watan--country, al-Melek--King on a reservoir.

Morocco has interesting speed limit postings. The signs can go from 100 km/hour to 80 and then to 60 within a few score of meters. Many of these quick slow downs are for the frequent roundabouts.  Added to the mix are slow moving trucks, winding roads and ups and downs. All of which made it very hard to even try to stick to the posted speed.  Into this perfect storm drove the Emmetts. We had passed several police radar patrolled areas over the few days of driving without any problems, but in the Rif Mountains our luck ran out. A radar gun got me going 73 in a 60. The office talked to me in French, I told him I only understood English or Arabic. He called over someone who spoke English better (but not much). I told him I was sorry and that I was trying. We really didn’t understand each other, but in the end he waved us on. Lucky day.  An hour later near Tetouan and another set of quick slow downs, I was nabbed again. This time I was not so lucky—300 Dirhams ($30) was the fine. From then on four back seat divers kept their eyes glued on the digital speed indicator and warned me (even if I was going 83 in an 80 that I was going too fast). Let me just say it is very hard to keep one’s speed constant with no speed control and many ups and downs and roundabouts.


We got to Tangier about 3:00 and set out to see if anything in the town reminded Marie of where she once lived. We eventually found our way to the old city walls and skirted them as we headed in the general direction of the three homes where the Tueller family lived from 1965-69. The city was now much larger and busier and not very familiar to Marie so she gave up trying to do it from memory. We then opted for plan B which was to hire a driver. I drove back to the old city and we parked near the Anglican Church. There we met a nice caretaker who called his cousin with a larger than usual cab (a Mercedes) to come and drive us around. It was $25 well spent. While waiting for him to come we all had some fresh orange juice to buoy us up for some more adventuring. With names of three neighborhoods e-mailed to us by Marie’s oldest sister Jan we were able to find one home still standing (easiest to find with its close proximity to the royal palace and the soccer stadium) and one home in the process of demolition. The home of the hill with the large garden was maybe there but now all the homes are walled and gated so we struck out on that one. We also drove by the American School of Tangier where Marie attended 1-4 grade. 

Small Anglican Chapel, part of a on-time Christian hospital, where the Tueller children went (after having a LDS sacrament service in their home) to Sunday School and learned lots of good Protestant songs that are still a part of the family repetroire.

Back at St. Andrews we took a tour of the church (the object of one of Matisse’s paintings) which is very impressive in that the interior was intentionally designed (in a gesture of ecumenical outreach) to look very much like the interior of a Moroccan style mosque. We then wandered through the old city looking for a place to eat dinner. We didn’t find anything we liked, but we did enjoy wandering through the narrow streets and markets. We ended up at the American Legation—the first foreign owned property of the US government. It was built and maintained in part to thank Morocco for being one of the first countries to recognize the newly independent USA. We got there shortly after its 5:00 closing so we couldn’t go in and see where Marie’s dad studied Arabic for two years and where her family stayed on their last night in Morocco. We headed out in search of dinner which was found at Pizza Hut.

The American Gate of the old city.

Strait of Gibraltar

Next stop was the newly built Mnar Castle Apartments Hotel about 10 kms up the coast. It was a great find—four bedrooms, large screen TV, OK wifi and a great view. We got there just in time to watch the sun set over the Atlantic and to see the lights come on across the Strait of Gibraltar in Spain. 


Next morning we opted to not go explore any more of Tangier and instead head back to Casablanca. It was not our best travel day. To pass the time, Sarah came up with a picture bingo game (each person had their own hand drawn set of images) where everyone but the driver kept busy looking for an orange tree, olive tree, ocean, policeman, donkey etc. We made it back just in time for the 2:00 tour of the King Hassan II Mosque only to find out that the only afternoon tour is now at 3:00—which was too late for us. We enjoyed the beauty of the mosque from the outside. I dropped Marie and the kids off at the port gate where they caught a SAS shuttle out to our ship. I then returned the rental car, explored a little of Casablanca, had one last fresh orange juice and then walked (and tripped bruising a rib) to catch the shuttle. Morocco was a great last port. We only scratched the surface of this wonderful country. 

 An interesting entry in the Billboard Festival of Casablanca.

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