Madness in Meknes

Trip Start Apr 04, 2006
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Trip End Mar 30, 2007


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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Welcome to Africa!!!

We left early Friday morning from Marbella in order to catch an early ferry from Algercieras (Spain) to Tanger and then hopefully a train from Tanger at 2pm to Meknes. This was our plan!!!! Needless to say, that was NOT reality!!!

It all started with our bus from Marbella to the port of Algercieras departing an hour late (due to an accident it had been stuck in prior to arriving to Marbella). As a result of our late departure - now at 10am, we'd miss the 11am ferry to Tanger and would be forced to take one either at noon or 1pm.

Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, we discovered that ALL the ferries were cancelled, due to high winds, with the exception of a large, slow boat scheduled to depart at 4pm. So with no other possibilities in getting ourselves to Africa, we purchased two tickets for the 4pm passage. So, the key word earlier was "scheduled"... the boat didn't depart the port until 5pm!! The 13km crossing usually takes two hours on the slow boat... but today, it took over 3 hours! AND... it wasn't a pleasant crossing to say the least. Besides the continually rocking from the 15 ft swells, we have never seen so many seasick passengers in our lives!! People were throwing up ALL over the place!!! Some made it to the bathrooms, others had sickness bags... some made it over the deck... and some just made it out to the deck! FINALLY, we arrived in Tanger at 8pm... but unbeknownst to us, Morocco is on a different time zone than Spain, so it was only 6pm. At least we were able to gain back two hours from our incredibly long day!! We decided to stay in Tanger that night, as the next train to Meknes would have arrived into the city at 1am.

The next morning (Saturday), we caught a taxi to the train station where they seemed to be filming a commercial for Moroccan railways. Therefore when Jeremy approached the gentleman to purchase the ticket, we think Jeremy was filmed as part of the commercial, but we don't have any proof if this is so.... but Jeremy believes he gave an Oscar winning performance!!!

A benefit of being delayed until morning, we were able to view the countryside on our way to Meknes. There were numerous fields interrupted by dirt roads and lots of garbage. It was quite a difference from what we had seen traveling through Europe. After a 4 hour train ride, we arrived in Meknes around 3pm and found our hostel. Most Moroccan towns are divided into an old town (the medina) and a new town (ville nouvelle). Our hostel was located in the ville nouvelle. After dropping our bags, we decided to walk the 20 minutes to the medina of Meknes. The medinas are very narrow alleyways where its easy to get lost in. Not very long after entering into the medina, we got roped into looking at a carpet shop. Hence, we looked at the various types of rugs sewn throughout Morocco and explained to them that we didn't have a home to place a rug in and there was no way we were backpacking around with a 10 foot rug strapped to our packs. Sorry Jacqui!! :-( Once we slipped out of the shop without a carpet, we tried finding our way out. Unlike Venice and other old towns, we didn't have a map; nor do we think they even have one of the medinas. After about 10 minutes of trying to find the exit, in which looking up at the buildings doesn't help because they are so tall, Suzanne started to have a panic attack because it was so narrow and no exit was in site. Thanks to some kids playing soccer in the alleyways, they led us in the direction of an exit. Finally, we found one of the gates leading out!! After about 10 minutes of calming down, we decided to walk the outside of the wall back to our hostel. Of course, the way our luck was going... it wasn't going to be a great walk back. Within minutes of starting our walk back, we heard screeching brakes. Suzanne turned to look towards the sound and saw a guy being hit by a car head-on, go up on the hood, hit the windshield, fall to the ground and do a couple of rolls. Looking back now, it really looked just like how it does in the movies... but in reality, much, much more scary! As we were the only ones around, other than the guy in the car, we were the first to reach the victim. Of course, we aren't the best ones to be first on the scene as we can't speak Arabic, nor can we speak French which is widely understood in Morocco. Jeremy went over to the guy on the ground as he was rousing himself. By this time, the driver had gotten out of his car and was also helping the man up. At this point, the man who was hit turned and gave the guy who hit him a big hug!! We eventually got him over to the sidewalk and by this time, a crowd had formed and so we left as there wasn't any more we could do.

So our first 24 hours in Morocco comprised of a long day waiting for a ferry, sick passengers, a panic attack and a man hit by a car who gives the driver a big hug!! What a day!!

Our second day was a much calmer day as we walked around the medinas.

After two nights, we were off to Fes.
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