North of Morocco : a glimpse of Africa

April 15, 2017
"Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs." Amin Maalouf
Going to North of Morocco was my first time on the African continent and the closest I have been, up untill now. I had the chance to go thanks to a close family friend who hosted us for 3 weeks. I think the best way to see Morocco is through the country's locals. Because it's within families of friends and friends of friends that you get to see all the beauty of the culture. Everything works by word of mouth. People communicate so much with gestures and funny thing drivers hoots to say hello. It's the kind of culture where everyone takes their time. When you have to meet someone you have all day to come by nobody gives you a time to be there.

So throughout those 3 weeks we had two main places that we stayed in. First of all in the busy city of Tangier in our friend's apparement for several days and then his beach house. We would wake up and take a typical Moroccan breakfast in a bakery nearby. Morrocan panecakes with cheese and honey and mint tea. This city never sleeps and the cultural choc is great. You can feel you are in Africa because of the weather and the view. But also this city has so much to offer between markets and great food. Tasting cheap incredible fruits on the streets. The beautiful chaos of traffic, pedestrians and light is quite unique.

Among the cities and sites we had the chance to visit, we also went to visit the historical rich port of Asylah who was at one point took by the Portugese who left remnants like the city walls. In this little town, you walk through this maze of little streets. It is a wonderful place with so much history and culture. But also the landscape and nature is breathtaking between the wild sea hitting against the rocks under our feet and the fog creating this magical atmosphere.

After spending several days in Tangier our friend took us to his beach house. In a less busy area where we were kind of the only tourists. What was amazing was the diversity of people on the same beach some wearing swim suits some with more layers. What was wonderful with the women there was the way they wore their hijab with so much colour, sometimes with heals. The contrast was beautiful.

The sea was beautiful as the wild landscape we had the chance to see. We actually swam in the mediterranean part of North Morrocco because the Gibraltar detroit is where the ecounter of the Mediterranean sea with the Atlantic ocean takes place! And there is a well known place near Tangier that we went to where the collison between the hotter sea flows and the cold ocean causes this incredible foggy scenery.

Speaking of detroit, we also went to the closest part of Morroco with Spain and that we could actually see from where we where standing. That was awesome!

Throughout this travel experience that was also a family trip I enjoyed so much meeting our friend's family in the mountains where there vacation house was (picture 1). Being able to see that kind of raw and wild landscapes is really a chance. Being able to shop in markets with all the morocan people was really a beautiful culture choc. This part of Morocco has so much to offer between the mountains, the sea and the culture.

From the cities we went to Tetouan, Tangier and Asylah. In summer, the best way to appreciate the spirit of those cities is to go to the big markets from the late afternoon where all the moroccan come eat and shop or take a coffee until midnight where you can walk on the dike and enjoy the evening.

Because we had a car we where able to go around from cities to less busy area and really visit the region. Concerning using cabs in this case it's much easier to order them from a hotel (some of the staff are really nice and will gladly help you out). But also being aware that you might pay more like in a lot of countries where you have to negociate. That's why when you have a local friend it's much easier to negociate and be understood. Of course, you can try to learn some arabic words we often underestimate how much some words can be a huge help. Personnaly learning how to say "Excuse-me thank you" in Morocco was a huge help because first of all everyone says it if you pay attention and if you want to walk through those people busy streets you will have to say it more than once.
And it's kind of the same thing as drivers hooting to say hello or stopping in the middle of the street to talk to a friend. It's just how people communicate. 

So then we came back in France after taking two planes in Morocco (random layovers) and one we missed or who never came I don't really know. But we ended up spending a night in Casablanca to take our next morning flight. Quite an adventure I would say!

And even if at one point we found ourselves in a cab with a door that didn't close properly speeding with this ancient piece of car in the middle of the mountains. I still loved it. Between the time  I got lost in Tangier with Hafsa or when I got my hair straightened in a typical morocan hairdressing salon which was set up in a lady's appartement on the third floor of a block between two shoes stores. I just live for those kind of things!

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