After our camel ride, the tour bus dropped us off just outside the walls of the old city of Tangiers. We walked through the twisting alleyways, trying to fend off the almost aggressive touts flogging copper ornaments, bangles and postcards. Although it seemed like the other members of our group, all Americans, didn’t mind the hawkers that much and some even haggled while keeping up with the brisk pace our guide set, Gareth and I felt harassed by the unwanted attention. We came to Morocco knowing theoretically what lay in store for us, but found ourselves avoiding eye contact and trying our best to ignore the men who kept pushing trinkets into our hands. I surreptitiously eyed some of their wares, careful not to let any interest show, and thought that I might have bought some of it had their sales methods been less intrusive. I don’t like being pressured into a sale, and I have absolutely no talent for bargaining, so I resolved myself not to buy anything at all. Little did I know what lay in store for me!
We suddenly stepped out from the maze of alleys, surprised by the unexpected sight of the ocean ahead of us. Our guide explained that the grey waters in front of us was the place where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. It was a cloudy day and we couldn’t see all that much, but he assured us that on clear blue sky days one could see all the way to Europe. Having had this vantage from Gibraltar only a few days before, we were sorry not to have good weather for this view too.
Then we were once more ushered back into the medina, once again dogged by touts until we were rounded up in a crescent moon shape around a pair of performers. I could hardly believe my eyes: we had happened upon a group of snake charmers. Now, I don’t know if this is something they do for silly tourists like us, or if it is an authentic form of entertainment, but I couldn’t care less. I was in Morocco, I had ridden a camel and now I was watching a man teasing a cobra for fun and profit. I had the presence of mind to remember that my camera has a video mode, so the 32 second clip below gives a quick glimpse of the madness.
After the obligatory collection bowl had been handed round the group, we were rounded up again and headed deeper into the city to go and experience a traditional Moroccan meal.
For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.