September 08- September 16, 2019; 1574 nm and 178 days after departure from La Rochelle
The 60 nm leg to Africa (sounds great doesn’t it 🤓) was unspectacular. The most exciting part was, us weaving through the traffic separation scheme (yes, there are traffic separation schemes in the water as well, here because of the strait of Gibraltar) trying not to get too close to any of those incredibly huge cargo ships.
We were prepared to wait a long time to get all the check-in paper work done in the marina of Tangier. Though it turned out to be much easier than expected. Maybe we were just lucky? Marina papers , immigration and customs, including a check of the boat (which meant checking the cupboards, the bilge and whatever they wanted to see) all in all took only 45 min. Later in the week we spoke to other sailors and they waited much longer to get their official clearing. Lucky us 😁! And important to mention, the staff and all the people we spoke to were very friendly and helpful and most of them spoke English, French or Spanish. Very impressive!
Still that doesn’t mean that if they say they help you that it actually happens. 😉 We were looking for a ship chandler as we wanted to get a flag for Madeira. They couldn’t give us an address but they said somebody would come around to meet us in 15 min to help. Same happened when we asked, if there is a possibility to buy a new water pump for our motor. (We discovered that the pump was leaking and we would have loved to repair it before heading to Madeira). Nobody turned up 🤷♀️. It seemed that they were either not interested in business or they just didn’t want to say that they don’t provide any marine stores. 😉
A week in Tangier is probably enough to get to know the city but definitely not enough to explore more of Morocco.
We started our first stroll in direction to the old city walls, where the “Medina” – the old town- is located. We walked through a labyrinth of cobblestone snaking streets with traditional Islamic architecture (Moorish, Andalusian and European colonial) and quirky shops full of knick-knacks.
So many different smells ( not all of them very pleasant). There were of course millions of spices and herbs, soaps, fruit , vegetable, fish, meat – whatever you can think of – all in one place. People sitting in tiny workshops and doing their business, e.g. sewing, welding or repairing bicycles next to pastry shops and people just sitting on the streets selling shoes or baseball caps or just handkerchief. A perfect place to wander aimlessly in a very bustling atmosphere, great.👍
The next day we had our first (I think, that is a must have drink in Tangier) mint tea at the famous cafe bleu with a beautiful view of the strait of Gibraltar and Spain. This Cafe as well as Cafe Hafa (even more famous) are locate in the “Kashbah” area of Tanger. This quarter is perched at the top of the Medina and was historically used as a defence station. As the highest point in the city, the Kashbah boasts with panoramic ocean and city views. Great to stroll around and enjoy the epic views as well as to take in a big part of Tangier’s history. All the amazing impressions and the walking made us hungry.
We decided to have an early dinner at a simple street restaurant back in the Medina. I can’t recall what we exactly ate, but I do remember that a homeless asked me if he could have our leftovers. I said:” sure no problem” (we had a lot left over as we didn’t know what exactly we had ordered, it was much too much). I was just going to give him my plate when he had already started to grab my food to scoop it in a piece of bread in an incredibly fast movement. I didn’t feel very comfortable as he was super close to me and almost shovelled some food on my labs. The whole situation was a bit weird and we also felt a bit ashamed. It’s so sad to see that so many people are so poor that they don’t mind eating your left overs and have to live on the streets. As suddenly as he appeared as suddenly he disappeared again, but not without whispering ” thank you”. The owner of the restaurant was shouting at him and chasing him off.
The next days we had planned a “hop on and hop off bus tour” to explore a little bit the surroundings of Tangier. It turned out that we had to postpone it for a day as I was knocked down for a whole day due to typical Arabian food or better gut problems. 🤮 Not nice! I won’t provide further details. Only that I unfortunately must declare that I am not a fan of Moroccan food, no not at all! To me the dishes are, though they have billions of spices not tasty at all and I do not like the smell of it. Sorry 😞
Finally we managed to get on the bus Friday in the morning. That was a very worth tour and perfect for me. Just sitting and enjoying the beautiful landscape of the outer Tangier area as I was still quite weak from my previous not feeling well day. The tour took us south to Cap Spartel and the Cave of Hercules through a very green park and an impressive rich residential area of Tangier. Ok, the cave and the Cap is veeeeery touristic but as we only had a few minutes to enjoy the incredible panorama of the Atlantic and the not too spectacular cave, we could manage being in this touristic crowd. As I said, the tour was great. It gave us an impression of a small part of the Moroccan nature and it made us clear it is definitely a country which needs to be explored more.
Before leaving Tangier on Monday midday to experience our first 5 days or 600 nm leg to Porto Santo/ Madeira, we spent a nice evening with a Canadian couple Shelley and James from “Carina”. We met them already in the river Guadiana, when we were anchoring so close together suddenly because of the current. They headed off the next day ( by plane) for a couple of weeks back to Canada, but we will hopefully meet them again in Madeira or in the Canaries later in the year.