So apologies in advance for missing letters.
So! Here’s what’s happened:
Monday I left Paris via Orly airport and met Mala at the Madrid airport. We met up with Ana who took us out for tapas in three different places. The place we went for sangria was actually one of the places I went with les filles over a year ago (Las Cuevas). She walked us through the gay neigborhood. It was lots of fun being in Madrid with a madrilena.
So the next morning we caught the bus to Algeciras which turned out to be a ten hour ride. It wasn’t so bad; we entertained ourselves; I was only a little worried that we didn’t have a place to stay reserved in Algeciras. We got to Algeciras though and found a perfectly decent hostal with air conditioning; booked our ferry for the morning, and ate.
We took the bus to Tarifa in the morning and got on the ferry for Tanger; the dude looking at non-EU passports was looking at EVERY SINGLE PAGE so we were actually the last two on the boat. The ferry was cool but only a 35 minute ride. I got a stamp in my passport. Getting off into the port at Tanger was a bit disorienting but interesting. We changed money and ran into some Scottish girls who had taken the night bus down from Madrid and were also going to Fes; we split a cab to the train station with them.
We caught the train to Fes which was fine until the air conditioning stopped working and it was sweltering hot in our car. The way the wmen dress is interesting–some are very traditional, some wear head coverings but are still very stylish and modern, and some wear completely western clothing. We go to Fes at 4 and were picked up by Linda’s friend who took us to his apartment. He was a little worried about finding us at the train station but I was the only white girl and Mala was the only Indian so it turned out to be pretty darn easy. Fes was pretty uneventful and we weren’t there for long–we just got drinks and fries in the ville nouvelle and took lots of confusing petit taxi rides.
We picked up the rental car in the morning yesterday. It was a brand new Fiat– seriously we are the first to drive it. Driving here is totally fun–in the cities you can kind of do whatever you want and everyone’s going so slow it doesn’t matter. We stopped in Volubilis to look at the Roman ruins and ate lunch at the cafe there where we were harrassed by a bee.
Then we drove straight to Essaouira. We drove past Rabat and Casablanca. So that took about 5 hours. The highways are really well marked and it was really easy. Near the end we went through a lot of little towns where people generally walked in the middle of the street and Mala honked at them and they thought it was hilarious. We got pulled over for passing in a no-passing zone (which of course all the Moroccans were doing too) but the policemen just wanted to chat and explained the law and tried to speak Arabic to Malavika (not the first time this has happened). So they didn’t even ask to see papers. We passed lot of donkeys. I took two good pictures of them out of about 20 efforts. Also near the end of the ride the scenery was beautiful. I’ll post pictures when I get back. We pulled into Essaouira at sunset and since it’s so dusty here that was really pretty.
Yeah so finding the hotel in Essaouira was a bitch. Everyone walks in the streets here so it was really hard to not kill people and figure out where e were gong. The street signs are all in Arabic (I knew that they would be). We asked a few shop owners for directions and they were really nice but bad at giving directions. We finally stopped at a swanky hotel and the guardien and the woman concierge gave us detailed directions and explained that we couldn’t drive to the hotel because it’s in the medina and you can’t drive in the medina (duh). So we parked where she told us to and the parking guardien walked us to the hotel. We were so relieved to be there–the sun had gone down and I was beginning to despair.
We dumped our stuff in our super cool hotel room and Mala convinced me (already half in pajamas) that we should go find something to eat. We went out into the street and were stoppd y a young guy who asked us (in English) if he could ask Mala a question about an Indian song. Then we asked him if he could tell us a good cheap place to eat so he showed us to this tiny cafe where we went up to the third floor terrace.
I am so excited to have a full day of non-travel. We hope to find an artisans collective to look at thuja woodwork and walk on the beach and maybe get massages. We go to Marrakech late tomorrow afternoon.
This keyboard is a bitch. So I think I have to stop. But I think I’m all caught up now.