I think I just got way too excited to be blogging again, and posted about my day when it was only 30% finished. Here’s what else I did in Tangier:
It’s still too early for check-in but I maneuver my way through the medina to find my hostel. A “medina” is the term for an old Arab or non-European quarter of a North African town, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I took that straight from Google.
The hostel is charming and beautiful but utterly silent, even though it’s now almost noon. A French woman comes to check me in and identifies me as Canadian, despite by British passport, based on my poor French accent. Awesome.
I feel much more at ease now that I can leave my important things in the hostel and explore without all of my cash, passport, and livelihood attached to me.
I bring a small black and white map, but allow myself to get lost in the medina, knowing that this would be hard even for someone with an inner compass.
I take random turns through small winding streets, following white walls and doors painted in bold shades of blue. Shops are beginning to open up and I am encouraged to enter what must be 100 places over the duration of my walk, but never do. As you can imagine, cat calling is also extremely common here, as it is in many other countries where women are not valued as equals. Hell, it still happens in Canada. I keep my bag close and eyes averted, trying my best to avoid any unwanted attention – trying to stay alert while I adjust to this new environment, running the words of warning people shared before my departure, again and again through my head.
Don’t get me wrong though, I still enjoy every moment; every new corner, every blue door, every time I realize I’m back where I started. The bright colours and prints displayed on rugs, scarves, tagines and leather goods, the silver jewelry and deep baskets of spices.
It’s beautiful, and I realize over some time that no one’s objective for the day is to harm me. Once I sit down and relax at another cafe for another mint tea, I feel quite foolish for spending my morning so paranoid. I don’t plan to walk around in a crop top with my purse unzipped in the middle of the night, but I can definitely chill. It’s also no where near as hot as I was expecting. As per usual I did very little research. I’m still in the most Northern part of Northern Africa, (I can literally see Spain across the sea) so it’s only 20 degrees, and I was expecting a hefty 30. That will come later though, as I go further South to Marrakesh.
It’s also windy as hell today, and Tangier doesn’t have the cleanest of streets, so as some men are cat calling me (uncomfortable) a large piece of cardboard comes flying with a gust of wind and smacks the back of my head (now even more uncomfortable). They all laugh. I keep walking like nothing happened. Just terrible.
I find my way back to the hostel and can finally settle into my room. It’s a 7 bed dorm but so far it’s just me. I take a little siesta and when I wake up I’m still alone. This is disappointing, because I was hoping to make some friends. I go out into the common area by reception…still just me. I can’t figure out why it’s such a ghost town!
Dinner time rolls around. I venture back outside, but this time with more of an aim. I google some places to eat in Tangier, realizing I hadn’t seen any street food on my morning and afternoon expeditions. Well, nothing major. One man was selling baguette sandwiches but that doesn’t seem super Moroccan to me…
I decide on a TripAdvisor approved restaurant and head in that direction, keeping my eyes open in case I find something more interesting. It’s entirely possible I’ll get lost, anyway.
Spoiler alert! I don’t get lost. Well, a little, but I sort myself out. No help required. The restaurant is absolutely adorable, moderately expensive for my backpacker budget, but still affordable. I order a vegetable tagine, which comes with bread, a hot blended pea dip (I make it sound awful but I swear it’s good), and some olives to start. It’s ridiculous, guys. Drop what you’re doing and go find some authentic Moroccan food somewhere. This is not a drill.
I get a free mint tea and little pasty dessert after my meal which is a fun bonus for a meal that’s 65 Mdh (conversion). Apparently free mint tea is a thing across the whole country, actually.