The Ferry from Tangier to Algeciras
October 20, 2007
On the night of the October15th, Mira and I were sitting around our little pink room in the Hotel Marraketch in Rabat joking and scheming up plans of how we would travel around Morocco. Before we knew it we hashed out a plan to go way out into the desert and check out the little end of the road abode of Figuig. But as we talked through the night, I went off on a string of romantic musings about riding bicycles across the south of Europe.
“We could pick up a couple of old lady bikes with baskets in the front and gear racks in the back in Portugal, and ride all the way around the coast from the Atlantic Ocean to the south of France ” I raged.
The next day we found ourselves on a boat to Spain. I like romance of going the wrong way. Mira does too.
So we rode out of Rabat on a morning train and made Tangier by mid-afternoon. From here we battled the crowds at the train station for a taxi; and one drove right up to us, told a Moroccan lady who tried to get in to go shit in her hat, and picked us up special. This was the most miraculous thing that I had yet experienced happening in Morocco. The driver must have thought that we were, as foreigners, far less inclined to battle for a taxi and offered us his service to make our time a little easier. Once inside the taxi, he started his meter up right away and we were on our way to the port. The taxi man even joked with us a little and made my exit of Morocco a little more heart felt. We soon arrived at the port and I tossed the driver a large tip, as I knew that my bulging pocket of Dirham would soon be worthless fodder.
The purchasing of our ferry tickets to Algeciras was rather simple, as there were numerous ticket offices lining both sides of the only road which sold the exact same tickets for around the exact same prices.
“How can so many places sell the same tickets to the same people and all stay in business?” Mira asked.
I did not have an answer. So I shrugged and went into the ferry terminal to buy a ticket in a more officious seeming setting. 370 Dirham (nearly $40) each would ship us to Europe. Mira and I snatched up our tickets and smiled at the thought of this adventure.
Once through the passport stamp check we made way into the tunnel that went into the ferry and found ourselves packed into the tightly enclosed corridor with three to four hundred other passengers.
-Everybody was stuffed eave to eave, and baggage flowed into person, and person into more people, in an endless continuum down the entire length of the entrance tube, like a straw that was clogged in an attempt to drink a hefty stew. Moroccans who were hauling entire homesteads as their luggage were pushing against little kids screaming in strollers; baggage cart laden porters tried crashing their way through unopenable corridors in the packed crowd, while the crowd pleaded that there was not enough room for them to pass- there wasn’t- but the porters just replied with yells to get out of the way.
There was no where to escape, and a deadlock grimace crawled across the faces of the entire steerage. Mira and I just plastered ourselves against a railing and looked out through a window at the night time view of Tangier. A crescent moon shown brightly above the Muslim world that we were anxiously leaving. There could not have been a better goodbye gesture. “Farewell ancient cities of Islam, farewell Morocco, farewell empty belly and Ramadan,” I whispered to the crescent moon. I was on my way to Europe to engorge myself on that land of plenty. The road of the Vagabond looked me in the face.
In Morocco I am money on legs, in Europe I am properly regarded as a poor man. The way of travel between these countries is as vast as these perceptions of my social standing. In North Africa I can travel as a king, and sleep in hotels every night, take trains and busses at will, drink tea in little cafes, and eat meals in restaurants without it unreasonably draining the sustenance of my pocket book. While in Western Europe I must travel as the rightful tramp that I am and sleep on the sly on hillocks, forests, back alleys, and rooftops; eat only what I can come upon or scavenge cheaply from grocery stores, and can never utilize public transport. It has been a little while since I have had to travel in this fashion, and, as I laid with Mira upon the top deck of the nighttime ferry, drinking a bottle of wine, and looking at the star spangled sky, I looked forward to getting back to some old time tramping.
Mira and I truly enjoyed our passage to Spain and heartily passed back and forth the bottle of sweet red wine that I bought with my pocket full of change at the port side duty free. I do not think that wine has ever tasted so good to me. The disparities of Ramadan only made my pallet crave the woefullness of excess, and I took long deep swigs from the bottle, told bad jokes, and laughed like I have never laughed before. In celebration we wrote a little message and corked it back up inside of the empty wine bottle and threw it off the ship and into the sea for someone to discover. We were going to Europe! We would be a poor once again!
I smiled to Mira and the stars in the sky my joyful embrace of my renewed birthright.
- Ferry from Tangier to Algeciras
- Ferry between Spain and Morocco
- Europe Travel