Film Stars And The International Jet Set
Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
215Trip End Dec 20, 2010
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Where I stayed
We had some time to burn in Tangier before our flight to Cairo, Egypt.
We felt great to be back in Tangier, a city that many don't spend much time in. We love the edginess of the people and the port city vibe. It has that frontier city feel and we were there for the end of Ramadan celebration called the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr. This day marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted. The Eid falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting, as per the lunar sighting. Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast; a special celebration is made. Food and money is donated to the poor, everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes, and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. We were expecting some revelling and ya-hooing fun behaviour to be happening as people let their hair down but found that on the actual night most people were out in the streets either eating snails or just walking around greeting each other and not really gathering in any particular place. Everybody had new clothes on and these were more like prince and princess costumes and quite a site to see. The women looked amazing with hair and make-up complete and the children looked absolutely adorable in their little outfits with much detail. Most families have their photograhic portraits taken on this night in one hour photo shops across town. There were some traditional vendors in the main street of Tangier who had set up elaborately decorated royalty type thrones in garish gold and silver with fabrics and flowers to decorate. There was different size thrones for babies and children and it seemed you had your photograph taken then collected it a a later date. All the rage in downtown Tangier.
The day of Eid-ul-Fitr our hotel owner locked us in the hotel for half a day whilst he visited his family. This meant we really were alone in the hotel and took the time to do our washing and to lay around in reception putting on the Fes hats, sliding down stair railings and answering the phone.
We checked back in to the Pension Victoria Hotel which is where we stayed at the start of our Moroccan journey four weeks ago. The hotel has basic rooms, a shared squat toilet and showers you can only access if the owner is around. However, the large rooms do have lots of natural light and Tangier's best views of the boats coming and going in the Strait Of Gibralter. The view also includes a regular beggar lady and action in the alleyway below where a guy sells cigarettes. There is an ancient restaurant attached to the hotel where the only patrons are men but we have been able to get take-away mint teas there. Plus you can do your washing on the rooftop and we were the only people staying there which meant we had a whole hotel to ourselves. If you can deal with dodging the men and hash and opium dealers that hang around out the front, it's gold. Under our window there is a guy wearing an old suit that sleeps on a block of foam with a cat and newspapers as a pillow.
The hotel is like a big old machine that is falling apart but somehow still chugs on. Late one night i nearly flooded the room when the a tap fitting in the sink in our room broke off and the water quickly filled up the sink and threatened to spill over onto the floor. I ran downstairs in my underwear waving my arms and yelling in Spanish and English doing charades and aerobics at the same time. The night reception guy came up with a spanner and some wire but Nadine had saved the day and turned the water off. We were given a plastic bucket that i stuck on my head. Maybe we sent too much time in Room 6 but there is some interesting artworks in the room and they depict a bellydancing woman (we never saw any in Morocco but think they exist in Men's clubs), one of a kitchen table and a gold framed piece that has boats and the Strait Of Gibralter drawn in black pen and coloured in with coloured pencils. We drew our own picture of Morocco and left it there in the frame the day we left. Also behind this frame was a mysterious package hidden there and forgotten by someone leaving to Italy, Spain or France. I am not sure why i was looking behind the picture, maybe i have seen too many Scooby Doo Where Are You? cartoons. The package contained what we think was hash and marijuana but had been there too long so it was hard to tell. Just for the record, we didn't smoke it. Instead i had fun jumping off a ledge onto our beds. I broke a bed by the way but the room was well trashed before we slept there. We only wish we had a television set to throw out the window, true 80's rocker style.
Visiting Tangier really is like stepping back in time to the 70's or 80's so we did an 80's photo shoot based on this theme. The best thing seen in Tangier was the sign we saw out the front of a closed shop that read:
"Jimmy's World Famous Perfumerie- Patronised By Film Stars And The International Jet Set"
Unfortunately Jimmy was never home but we can only assume that he is now shacked up in a mansion on the Mediterranian Sea with Pamela Anderson running his hammam, Angelina Jolie co-ordinaing his Fes hats with his jellabas and Posh Spice hand selecting the fresh mint for his tea. If i ever own a business, this sign is to be written on a plaque on the door. I Love it, it's the best.
One day we went to check out the famous Hotel Continental and thought we might stay there until we realised the rooms were not so ritzy and the view to the water was the same as ours at Victoria. It would have been a flash hotel in it's day though. We went to the beach one day which was surprisingly clean. Everybody wears full clothes to the beach. There was a string of 80's style beach bar clubs with names like Golden Beach, Snob, Palma Beach and Soleil Rouge and there was even a restaurant named after Celine Dion. We saw some advertising for a Pizza Hut Ramadan pizza deal, they will cash in on anyhing hey! We dodged the stalker blokes trying to sell us hash or just trying to walk with us. This was done by crossing to the opposite side of the road to where they were then crossing back when they crossed until they go the message that we were playing the game so they would disappear. We were amused to find that the king has his photograph on the bus shelters down there.
We decided it would be an interesting outing to visit a McDonalds restaurant in Morocco. The one at the beach had lanterns and a fully set dining table with gold McDonalds logos embossed on the crockery. There was a Ramadan meal deal on offer as well as Halal offerings too. The food was expensive by Moroccan standards. I was busted by the store manager for taking a photo of the menu board and the look she gave me was enough to get the Fatima hand out. I was lucky she didn't throw a Mc Arabia burger at my head. We ordered the Star Wars Happy Meal that came with a Jedi's light sabre toy. Now this device is perfect for using as a weapon on the streets of Tangier and it would have been safe for us to walk alone here at night had we kept the weapon. Instead we gave it to some young girls who had watched us eat our food and make fools of ourselves with the box the meal came in. There was insructions on how to use your cup to make your voice sound like Darth Vaders and pictures of Ewoks. Cool. There was one of those fibreglass Ronald McDonald characters sitting on a chair out the front of the restaurant. Ronald looked the same as the Aussie one except he asked us if we wanted to buy some hash.
That same day we came across an LSD inspired fun park that had some wacky, scary rides and carnival games. The pellet gun game was back as was the throw a rubber ring on a glass coke bottle game plus the spin a chocolate wheel and never win a prize that has been sitting on the shelf since the 80's game. Young boys asked us to take their photograph (a first for Morocco) and fresh fairy floss was being spun from an old machine. There was a kiddies train that featured the Pink Panther, a weird gnome and an evil Mickey Mouse on acid that kids sat on. We had a great time. We saw a Moroccan Peter Andre hanging out at the front of the dodgems, we rode on the retro ferris wheel and Nadine had a bash at DJing with the most popular blokes in town who were running the scary octopus ride.
Whilst buying a faux Lee brand belt buckle in the main street, a kid selling chicklet chewing gum latched onto my leg and wouldn't let go. He stayed there all the way down the street and I basically had to shake him off with a little force. I felt bad but what was i to do, i had no money on me.
Monkey recieved his very own jellaba (loose-fitting outer robe with pixie or wizard hood) made by Mama Pixie (me) so he is not so naked in the muslim countries. I sewed the garment using a fabric store bag and our dodgy sewing kit, not a bad effort. Men also traditionally wear a red fez hat and soft yellow slippers (baboosh) with a jellaba but we have no materials unless i trash the hotel room some more by cutting up the bed sheets. Anyway we bought monkey a Fes hat in his size back in Fes, why do they even have hats in Mono Loco's size? The jellabas are very cool and we have been on the lookout for one for Margs. We often wondered what the hood (cob) was used for and now find out it is for sun protecion and also as a pocket for carrying bread or groceries when it is not worn on top of the head. Monkey is well imressed with his new end of Ramadan oufit that matches his Mama Deenas. Yes, monkey calls each of his mums by a different name so we know who he is referring to.
We certainly did have time to burn. We spent the rest of the time drinking double shot, strong as poison, cafe o laits and buzzing around. After Ramadan fasting was over, the people were happier and more relaxed throughout the day. The men seemed to just sit around drinking mint tea in cafes. Doesn't anybody go to work? What the hell do they talk about all day in the cafes? Over the four weeks in Morocco we have just scratched the surface in understanding the Muslim culture. The guy next to me at the internet is watching graphic porn on his computer, what would Allah think of that?
I have bought some D.I.Y henna powder, a syringe and a design book for applying tattoos. I intend to practise on Nadia tonight so she may not be talking to me tomorrow if i mess it up. Will keep you posted.
I have developed an intense olive addiction whilst in Morocco and have been known to eat a kilo a day. The olives are a major component of the agriculture and gastronomy of many countries adjoining the Mediterranean Sea and very good value to purchase in Morocco. One kiloof premium Kalamatas is 16 dirham. Cheap as chips. I favour the marinated Kalamata type olives with garlic, oil and coriander. I have designed what Nadine calls the chow bag for the purpose of devouring multiple olives rapidly. The chow bag is a black plastic bag that works by hooking the handles onto your ears with the bulk of the bag and the opening falling below your chin. You eat the olives then spit the pips directly into the chow bag. This proceedure is best carried out in the privacy of your hotel room.
We just found out where people keep their dogs as they don't have any gardens or backyards, on the roof of course.
We love Morocco