Saturday, August 1, 2009

Travel Log, June 15th, 2009

[Written on the train to Fes.]

Fes photos will be here.

[By the way, I usually use the spellings "Fes" and "Tanger" instead of "Fez" and "Tangier", because that's what they are in Morocco.]

This morning, the gals and Dani got breakfast at a brightly colored, modern cafe with English signs for "chicken and fries" and "egg burgers". We ate pastries and yummy coffee. Bees swarmed inside the pastry displays, which was weird, but perfectly normal apparently.

The 2-3 hour drive to Tanger was fabu until 33km away, when our collective nap was interrupted by Joey pulling off the road. "Flat tire." "Shooooot."

Five foreign women, two toddlers, and many luggage pieces stood on the dusty side of the construction-vehicle-laden highway while Joey looked for a wrench. No wrench. Thankfully, the road was CONSTRUCTION-LADEN! A MECHANIC came over to help, and fixed us up in about 30 minutes.

We are SO close to Tanger! Just 33 km!
Our hero attaches the spare.

During this time, Beth had to answer the call of nature. Now, we were on a cliff, looking over to a house on one side, and construction crews on the other. There was a high bush about 50 feet from the van. Amy and I followed Beth with a blanket into the scrub. "Watch for things that could bite your feet, please", I said as we in our flipflops trudged through African flora. Giggling the whole time, Beth survived the experience behind the blanket-shield.

Beth had to use the bathroom.

Last sister picture in Morocco:
Gonna miss Bebe!

Dani called it a "Rubbish Party." One happens with every groups: things just go wrong all at once and you have to laugh about it. We survived until today without one, so we were due.

We reached Tanger at 10:40amish. Now...our train left at 11am, and Joey confessed, "Oh. I don't know where the station is, actually." Shoooot. Praise the Lord/al hemdu Allah, we found it, hugged super quickly, and Joey followed Beth and I in to buy two first class tickets to FES. The train was late--we got tickets at 10:50ish, and it arrived at 11:07. :)

We've been napping, chatting, enjoying the scenery, and watching the cute Moroccan family that shares our compartment. Dad, beautifully jilaba-clad mom, and eight (?) year old daughter. We happily bought a fromage sandwich and coffee from Cart Man. WOO. ADVENTURE TIME.
We passed whole fields of sunflowers!

Anecdote time:
When one asks Benson, "what does a sheep say?", he replies in a deep, husky growl, "Baaaaaaaaa". Dani calls it the "smoker sheep voice". Now, his Arabic name is Mubarak. That's MANLY for one year old blonde Benson. One has to say "Mubarak" in smoker sheep voice, we decided. And, here for you, I doodle:
Moobarak the Smoker Sheep

We are now relaxing in our Fes accomodations--a lovely (and large) room in the house of the host family of my friend Adrienne's. Fatima and her daughter Khadija host students for the Fes Arabic language schools. K, who just graduated from highschool, speaks excellent English, while F only speaks Arabic. They currently have two American students, but we haven't met them.

When we disembarked in Fes, we immediately found a WC. OMG, can I use a squatty potty now or WHAT? I am a pro. Next: find H20 and Magnums. Got it. Water and chocolate ice cream bars. Perfect. Next: call K. Got her. Take petit taxi to Hotel Batha ("But-ah"), they meet us. Fab.

IN FES!!! We relaxed with a Magnum before catching a cab.

We walked through the busy train station and found a row of red taxis. A suave guy asked, "taxi? You need taxi?" "Yeees..." "OK!!" He took us to his taxi and drove us off.

Taxi man: "You staying at Hotel Batha?"
Us: "We're meeting friends there."
Taxi man: "Oh I know a good good classified hotel!"
Us: "Noo..we're fine, thanks..."
Taxi man: "Oh. :("

In the middle of the ride, another guy jumped in the front seat from a crosswalk. "OOOOOH I SPEAK ENGLISH!!!!!!!"

He said something about WELCOME and he works in tourism and the new king (I thought this king had been on the throne for ten years, but malish) loves tourism so each of us must bring back twenty people. Sure, sir. Then in a flash of suaveness, he left.

We made it to Batha, grossly overtipped him, and were quickly found by F and K. Apparently, B and I are obviously two American girls who probably know Adrienne. They were both in lovely jilabas, but no headscarves.

We walked through a busy street or two to the medina. Woo! The walls look so old and the alleys are stone and narrow with nooks and crannies, just like I pictured. Thankfully, we took one main road, basically, to their place.

Our bedroom door:
Our bedroom door.

After--oh yes--tea, we set off for a cyber cafe under general directions from K and instructions from F (through K) to not talk to ANYONE, not even kids, and to watch our purses. Check. B and I set off, watching landmarks as we went. We made it to a street with shops, and turned left for a good ways, in a heavy downpour, until we said "ummm..." and turned around. Shoulda gone right. Soon, we saw a "Cyber Cafe" sign, pointing into a gravel alley, and down into a basement mall place with pizza, Orange Julius, and INTERNET. We played catch up on life for over 1:15. We determined that Charlotte is probably a Desert Wolf Spider.

We regretted leaving our happy Moroccan bubble, actually. Sigh. Life. We did not need to be reminded about you.

We returned to the house no problem, until reaching their door. We had a key. We put it in. We turned. Lots of times. Nothing. We rang the doorbell. We heard feet and person. K said "open the door, that is the only key!" These are of course the kind of doors that you need to unlock with a key on BOTH sides. Shooot. We tried. We failed. We threw her the key:

She tried. She failed. "MAMA!!!" Mama came. Mama failed. She said, "I'm throwing it back!!" It lands:

Shoooot. B and I CRACK up. As QUIETLY as possible. Passersby stare. We are locked out, and have locked in our Fes hosts. Sweeet. Soon, a squeegee head appears, and after several tries, knocks the keys free to our side. Fine. Try again we do, finally success ours is. We all laugh and they manage to not look too annoyed! Ha!

F fed us incredible chicken tajine and amazing lemon juice, which was like lemon meringue pie in a glass.

F called her cousin to be our guide tomorrow. Funny thing. He speaks Arabic and French. We...don't. BRING IT ON!! [I will pull a Das Nibelunglied and say that this would lead to much, much sorrow. Or at least stress. But no one had ever seen such beautiful clothes, ever.]

P.S. Hoceima's prayer dudes totally win the mosque prayer call contest. Chef's were boring, and Fes, the "spiritual capital of Morocco", sounds like dying cows. "Moooooooooooo."

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