While moving from Málaga, Spain to Barcelona we spent a day in this nice little seaside town, visited the Picasso museum, and relaxed a little in the sun.
Tangier (Tanger) is a busy port city and like the other big cities here a mix of the old medina and new town. Tanger blended the coastal feel (though not as cool) of Essaouira and the winding maze of hilly streets in Chefchaouen, with a little bit of a Fés feel to its medina. Altogether I was most impressed by the colors in the old city so I've included some of that in the photos below. We stayed in a rather posh hotel for half of the time and an equally nice but less resorty hotel for the rest. Lauren has some more pictures or those places up on her blog.
We ventured into the medina in Tétouan the day before Ramadan and photographed some people going about their daily lives. Many people choose not to be photographed, and in this city were quite pleasant about it. Those who do not mind are quite cheery, even excited about being photographed.
I was intrigued by our first room in Tétouan, a room in a budget pension recommended in the lonely planet guide. It was first by the high ceilings, the European architecture comforting in a country seemingly filled with smaller doors built into already-small doors. Second was the color, an odd green that reminded me of my childhood dentist, or that the room I had locked us in used to be some type of insane asylum. Hopefully they've changed the beds. Our experiences with the lonely planet guide (though it is from 2009) have been hit or miss so far, so we've come to not expect too much. Free wifi in the hotel- great, no power outlet- tough. I worked until the laptop was drained.
So far our continued sporadic movements and last minute bus rides have resulted in just a couple full buses and this time some unsuccessful phone calls to try and not get an extravagantly expensive room in Tétouan, a city advertised as being much less frequently visited by tourists than many other Moroccan cities. After the one night we booked hastily just before we left our previous hostel and headed to the bus station, Pension Iberia was full for our remaining days and we were unable to stay another night. After being escorted by an extremely kind an only Arabic-speaking boy from our accommodation to three fully booked hotels there was space left in the fourth. We booked the remaning nights for our original rate and things were looking up when we found a shower and sink in the room. Showers are occasional and laundry for our few garments less frequent, so being able to have both, and for that matter not having to leave our room for them, was pretty special. My brother would certainly not find a similar comfort in these luxuries, but based on our lodging so far and lack of funds this was pretty top notch. I was even more intrigued by this space than the last- the tall door, matching windows, paint textures, colors, and viewless window that brought plenty of voices, music, cool air, and sunshine. Not pictured are the severely damaged floor blocks, noticeable only if you step on the thin rug that was laid down to conceal them. I decided to make a series of photographs in this room about this trip so far, what we've been dealing with so far, how it's affected us, and the feelings we have about the upcoming weeks and months.
We're still in Morocco, since the last post we've been checking out some more towns and seeing the differences in Morocco as you head North. There's still plenty of Arabic and French, but now in the previously Spanish-controlled Northern sections there is a lot more Spanish. Since both our French is horrible it's kind of nice to be able to communicate a little better when people still tend not to speak any English. No excuse for not learning much better French, but that'll take more that the few weeks we have left in Northern Africa. Since Moulay Yacoub we've been back to Fés, up to Chefchaouen, further up to Tétouan, and arrived today in Tangier, or Tanger as it's said here (like danger). We'll spend a few days in Tanger before crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and taking a detour from our Africa trip for a week in Barcelona. Thanks RyanAir. Chefchaouen was a pretty quaint little mountain town that looked like the photo to the left, in a word, adorable. Cobbled streets and winding hilly walking paths make up the old medina, with the only wheeled traffic being had pushed/pulled carts, the occasional small delivery truck, and a motorbike every so often. It's pretty hassle-free and inexpensive, and it makes sense why it's a popular Moroccan and European tourism destination. We travelled one day with some Brits, and Australian, and another American to see Akchoura falls, which did not disappoint. The day was expectedly hot and the cool crystal clear water felt amazing. We relaxed, photographed, and enjoyed the spot despite the hoards of other tourists when we went on a Saturday.
Here is a closer view of the "alleged" sunspots, per my brother's request. Below is video of sunspots 1520, 1519, and 1521 from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, the video is captured in the 131 Angstrom wavelength which is good for viewing solar flares, and appears teal. Sunspot 1520 was largest on July 11-12, while we were seeing it from Moulay Yacoub and also when it emitted a Class X1.4 flare . The "X" classification of solar flares is the most prominent and powerful enough to send radiation to Earth, causing Aurora Borealis.
We met up with a Peace Corps volunteer and visited him in the town where he did his initial training and Arabic language study, Moulay Yacoub. He showed us around town and told us a lot about his time in Morocco so far. It was nice to get out of the big city and spend some time hiking.
Here are some photos of Dutch, the newest resident at Marrakech Rouge, at least as of a few days ago...
Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, is a welcome change from the aggressive vendors and motorcycle laden streets of Marrakech. The fortified city rests inside its castle walls, well shielded from the sun, wind, and heat outside the city. Vendors line the streets and sell similar products to Marrakech, but they hardly even ask you to look at their goods, much less grab your arm and try to pull you inside. Outside the city walls is a beach town with high winds, kite surfing, and beach camels. I shot some video that I'll put up later, in the meantime here are some coastal camels in front of Mogador Island.