Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

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Rock the Kasbah

August 19, 2007

I remember hearing Rock the Kasbah when I was little and thought it was pretty catchy. Now, after seeing the Kasbah in Morocco, every time I hear the song, I’ll think of a strong urine smell and dirty street peddlers offering me hashish.

That’s right, I broke the rules and hit up Morocco. Americans, especially those on base, are restricted from visiting Morocco because of a terrorism scare. I think the base officials should just be honest and tell us not to go because Tangier it is like a giant smelly dog shit in the middle of a sandbox.

Don’t get me wrong… the people are very nice (when they’re not trying to sell you drums, carpets, hash and their younger sisters), but I can gladly say I visited Morocco, broadened my horizons and probably picked up a Venereal Disease while eating coos-coos at lunch, and I won’t ever go back.

Allow me to start from the beginning. A group of us went to Tarifa, the southernmost city in all of continental Europe. It is also the windiest fucking city I’ve ever been, too. You can be in a restaurant and get a gust of wind and sand shot in your face. Well, we got to Tarifa on Saturday night and decided to take a “Super Speed” ferry to Tangier, Morocco the next day.

I know I’m studying Spanish, but “Super Speed” must be lost in translation… what’s advertised as a 35 minute ride took us almost 2 hours from port to port. Maybe they decided to take the scenic route, you know like halfway out into the Atlantic and back toward this be.

So we get to Tangier, walk out of the boat, and I, being the tourist putz I am, start snapping pictures of the port… until I’m accosted by two guards who tell me to put my camera away and just shake their hands in my face. (Great first impression of this beautiful place, right?)

So, when we bought our tickets for the Speed Ferry, we paid the extra 0.60 Euro (Seriously, less than a Euro) for a guided tour including lunch. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out which was the better deal. Yeah, that’s what we thought until we started the tour.

We get on the bus after another 30 minutes of waiting in the port. Suddenly, we hear this booming voice over the PA system: “Hello, my name is Ahmed. Ah-med. Not Acchhhh-med and not A-med, but Ahmed.” (Yes, he literally said that.) We even had to practice his name before we started the tour. (I just called him schmuck-ass.)

We start the tour, see some lovely sites. I even see Jewish synagogues… I nearly shit my pants. Jews in Morocco just never occurred to me, but we even have our own section of the city. That’s right… we’re coming back.

We get to the infamous Kasbah. It’s split into 5 sections… living quarter, merchant quarter, artist and 2 others (I wasn’t totally paying attention). All you need to know about the Kasbah:
• Protect your pockets
• Try to breathe through your mouth to avoid the damaging your olfactory with the piss stench
• Do not make eye contact with the street hustlers
• If you do make eye contact, you’re fucked
• If you’re fucked… start spouting off random slang words to them… the one that worked best for me was “Buttplug”


• If all else fails, pull out your camera and start taking pictures of them… they’re all probably convicted felons or local pedophiles, so they hate having their pictures taken… it’s like mosquito repellent

Please don’t be fooled. I had a great time in Morocco. We got to see Camels (and my travelmates got to ride on them). We also saw snake charmers. These guys were like the ambiguously straight versions of Sigfreid and Roy in Morocco. One guy played the drum and smiled with his 3 teeth while the other guy stuck snake tails down girls’ cleavage. The trick was that the snake wrapped its tail around the girls necklace or shirt, so the guy had to reach in to get it out… brilliant man if I do say so myself.


We even had a delicious meal of shishkabob (still don’t know what kind of meat it was, but I noticed a few dogs were missing off the street when we left the restaurant) and coos-coos, bread, soup, etc.

After lunch, it was time to really immerse ourselves in the culture. Unfortunately, the tour guide’s idea of immersion was making us sit through in-store demonstrations and trying to sell us random Moroccan shit. For example, we had to sit through a 30 minute (and I shit you not) a 30 minute demonstration on Moroccan carpets. The guy told us to “feel his wool” and explained the difference in quality between woven carpet and knotted carpet with the double swoop. Midway through his demo, I started laughing hysterically, actually tearing up, and he stopped the demo so that I could calm down. I just couldn’t help myself. You would have laughed if you were right there beside me listening to Muhhamed tell us about his wool and the fine quality of his rug.

It’s pretty obvious that it was quite an experience. My mom told me when I was younger that she went to Morocco. When she was there, all the men were trying to buy all of her younger sisters from her (I’m sure it was a seller’s market at the time). I wasn’t able to profit off my travelmates, but going to Tangier definitely made me appreciate Spain moreso, and America even more.

That’s my recap of this Moroccan paradise. So, next time you listen to Rock the Kasbah, remember my story and think of the urine smell.

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Sick as a Dog But Loving Life

August 3, 2007

I have really sucked at keeping this thing up. I’m either busy, exhausted or sick. I just got over a badass bug, but I’m feeling better now. I’m still going to take it easy this weekend. Last weekend, I was “volunteered” as the driver, so I drove for a good 8-10 hours of the weekend just trying to find where the hell we were going.

In Spain, they don’t have normal highways, they have roads and rotaries. I hate rotaries (or as some of you assholes call them, roundabouts). If you’ve ever seen National Lampoon’s European Vacation when Chevy Chase drives by Big Ben a hundred times, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I think the Spanish installed roundabouts every 1000 feet to fuck with foreigners’ heads. The best part… they put the directional signs about 50 feet away from the roundabout, so you have to rubberneck to see which turn you should take. Even then, you have to get in the correct lane (I’m still confused if it’s the right lane or the left lane). I used some “Boston Driving” passed down from my father and created my own roundabout rules. Sure, I was honked at a few times and some Spanish had the look of death, but I just smiled and kept driving.

So enough about roundabouts… I have seen some beautiful sites while I’ve been here. Last weekend we visited Ronda, which is a city built around a canyon. The sites were pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, after 3 hours of driving, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have and neither did my travel mates. After about an hour and a half of walking around the city, we took off for the beach (another 2 and a half hour adventure including shitloads of roundabouts and winding mountain roads)

We got to Tarifa, the southernmost city in continental Europe. Right when we got there, we noticed we were above the clouds, which seemed kind of weird. We pulled over and realized we were looking at a mountain in Africa. It was so close, it was amazing. I can’t really explain the feeling, but to be standing in Europe and look across the Straits of Gibraltar to see Africa is a pretty intense feeling. We snapped some sweet shots and moved on.

We ended up sleeping on the beach in a lifeguard stand. It sounds like it would be fun, but little did I know that Tarifa has 35 mph winds all the time. Needless to say, it was as cold as a witch’s titty, and then some. I was freezing my ass off! I managed about 30 minutes of sleep, but it was a good 30. We ended up just hanging out on the beach for the rest of the day, catching up on sleep and enjoying the view.

Pretty cool weekend overall. I’m pretty sure those shitty winds got me sick, but what can you do? At least I got to see Africa…