Sep 7:  Casablanca to Chefchaouen


I slept maybe 2am-2:30am.  I had a dream.  I'd taken my earplugs out before that so I wouldn't miss my alarm.  The club kept going on and off.

Alarm went off 7:15am.  Left the hotel 8am.  Met Nikky (late-arriving Irish girl) on the minivan.  We'd chatted on the Watering Hole message board before the trip because we're the only two cool people in the group.  She says the Spanish Armada landed at Cork and that's why there are darker-skinned Irish people like me.  (My great-grandparents, the Craneys, came over from Cork in 1906.  Their daughter gave birth to my dad and their son sired former WWF jobber Jeff Craney.)  I later determined that this Spanish story is unsubstantiated.  Also, my above-average penis size would seem to rule out any Latino DNA.

We arrived in Tangier at 12:35pm.  Had lunch at La Marveille in la Ville Nouvelle.  I had a chicken tajine.  Stella thought Tangier was called Tajine, so this was an appropriate selection.

Before getting back on the van we were all keen to go across the street and take intercontinental photos, because this is one of the geographically awesomest spots in the world.

The beach in the foreground with the camels (there are 2...look closely) is in Morocco/Africa.  The buildings across the water are in Spain/Europe.  2nd straight trip where I have two continents in one photo.

Hard to see here, but the mountains in the distance behind the boat on the left are Portugal.  I think this is the first time I have 3 countries in 1 photo.  In case you had no clue where Morocco is, here's a clue.

More of the Moroccan beach and Spanish non-beach.  There are other geographical oddities to the northeast of here that we didn't see:  the Spanish exclave Ceuta (part of Spain, but on the African coast) and Gibraltar (UK) across the way.  The Rock of Gibraltar, being so close to Morocco, was in fact named after Don "The Rock" Muraco, who (in his better-known persona The Magnificent Muraco) feuded over the Intercontinental Championship in 1983 with Rocky Johnson, father of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who has often used the epithet "jabroni" which is a cognate of "Gibraltar".  Furthermore, LG dubbed me the Don of Morocco.  And Quincy Johnson dubbed me the Don of North Hollywood.  This is all very simple if you don't think too much about it.

Our driver's name is Wassoun I think.  He has a decent mustache.  He drove us toward the medina and we picked up Mohammed, our local guide, who according to Abdoul is the oldest man in Tangier or in Morocco.  He led us through the medina from 1:45pm to 3:30pm.

Bab Kasba, the entrance to the kasbah.  Thanks to my iPhone, we had entrance music.  I don't have to tell you what it was, but I do have to tell you that I thought the lyric was "Catholic radio there" instead of "cockpit radio blare" for 30+ years.

Mosque.

Mohammed in front of the mosque.  He caught me taking this photo and demanded 25.

Kasbah street.

Kasbah street.

La Tangerina.  It's a hotel that Mohammed said is mentioned in Rick Steves' book, so it must be important.  It's also in my Rough Guide.  Also, tangerines are named after Tangier!

Hotel that used to be owned by an English guy.  The windows have a Union Jack design.  The hotel is called Nord-Pinus, which in English would be Peter North, or should be.

Just outside the kasbah.  Tangier port and Spain, and theoretically Portugal.

Outside the kasbah but still in the median.  I think Mohammed said the structure to the left (the part with the canopy that's now a cafe, and the part under the trees in the center) used to be Tennessee Williams' house.  Tennessee Williams managed "Double J" Jeff Jarrett briefly in 1998.  And then he got fired for taking to long to remove his belt.  I enjoy educating all of you in wrestling history and I'm humbled by your gratitude.

The Dar Zero part of the compound.  Remember?  T-E-double-N-E-double-S-double-E Double-U-I-double-L-I-A-M-S.  And he managed J-E-double-F J-A-double-R-E?-double-T.  Spend my days workin' hard on the go, but the hands on the clock keep spinnin' too slow, 'cause I can't wait to be alone with my baby tonight.  And then we found out it was really sung by the real "Double J" Jesse James, known since then as the Road Dogg, because we needed one more letter doubled.

This is just a thing.  Mohammed said it's in the Andalusian style.  Rick Steves said on TV that Andalusia "comes with a whiff of Arabia".  This LG chap I've referred to in this and previous travelogues has the surname Arabia.  So at least two of us get a giggle here.

Real Madrid store.

Barcelona store.  Everyone here is a fan of one or the other.

Blue-ass steps!

Outside the medina in la Ville Nouvelle.  I think this architecture is notable.  Resembles Bourbon Street without drunk people on the balconies and boobs and beads.  Or, Bourbon Street WrestleMania weekend.

Same street, other direction.

St. Andrew's Church & Berber market.

American Legation.  Morocco was the first country to recognize US independence.

WE THE PEOPLE.

Fort.  Probably a good place to have one with 3 other countries a couple minutes away.

Hotel Continental.  Not Intercontinental.  Just Continental.  Why?  I imagine The Honky Tonk Man floating over from Spain in his pink Cadillac, looking for a place to pick his guitar, and deeming this hotel unsuitable.

Back in the van.  We rode for 2+ hr through mountains.  Good scenery, but I've seen the same scene in countless other countries.  Looked like I could have been in Turkey or Peru or California or France.

Someone's water spilled on the floor of the minivan and soaked my bag, and the stuff in it.  I let loose a dozen F-bombs.  That flooding could have been avoided.

There's an optional excursion tomorrow (one of 3 on this trip) to go hiking.  I wanted to go (I love hiking in LA, though I haven't done much lately because my usual hiking partner is out of action for at least 40 weeks) but it was going to take 5-6 hours, plus we just got hot and too much sun in Tangier less than 2 hr, plus the hike costs 35 (not keen to pay $50 for a hike that I could do for free in LA with better scenery), so I didn't commit.  I needed a recharge day anyway.  The hike wouldn't happen unless at least 5 people committed, and only 4 on the bus said yes, but later Rebecca became the 5th.

Abdoul said kif (hashish) is "legal and illegal", so "be careful".  He didn't say "don't do it".  Nice.  G Adventures officially says you'll be kicked off the tour if you use drugs or prostitutes, but individual CEOs (Chief Experience Officers...I hate that term...it means tour leaders) vary in their enforcement.  Hopefully not getting Abdoul in trouble here.

Abdoul said the architecture in Chefchaouen is more Moopish than Arab.  He actually said "Moorish" but he was relying on a misprint.

Arrived at the Hotel Madrid in Chefchaouen at 6pm.  My room has no AC but the window opens to a "chimney" (a courtyard maybe 20 ft at its widest and several stories high) so that should help with cooling.  Bathroom has a bidet.  Always a welcome alternative after I shit my bed in Egypt.  Tap water is very cold.  From the mountains I assume.  Would be nice if it's OK to drink.  My room has 2 beds, so I'm excited, because there's more room for me to unpack.  There's a drain in the bathroom floor, unlike the Casa hotel.

The town's name is pronounced shefSHAHwen or shefSHAUen.  By AU I mean OW, like the sound you make when you step on a sea urchin.  Some people were calling it SHEFshawahn.  Where did they pick that up?

I emptied my small bag that got soaked on the van and laid everything out on the bed like Elaine's panties.  My money belt containing the USD that I bring on every trip in case my ATM card doesn't work took the brunt.  Had to arrange the window and bed drapes so no one could look in the window and see my drying cash strewn on the bed.  And I didn't leave my key at reception when we went to dinner.  Minimizing risk.

At 7:10pm we walked into the medina for dinner.  There was a Charlie Chaplin guy in the street, just like at the Chinese Theatre, though his face was less rubbery and inhuman.  He wasn't out of place because the Smurf red carpet thing (see below) suggested Chefchaouen is the Moroccan Hollywood.

Kasbah as seen from Aladin Restaurant.

Girl dancing to Beat It.  There were red carpet arrivals later and I don't know what this event was, but the VIPs went into the kasbah after.  Arab and Berber Smurfs are OK with me, because I never knew what culture Peyo was from and I didn't know he died in 1992 until just now.

Medina wall, looking like the Great Wall of China.

Chefchaouen medina.  Note the distinctive blue color.  You know who's responsible for that, don't you?  The Jews.  Seriously, Jewish refugees from Spain were required to move into the medina in 1760 and changed the color scheme.

I had the full dinner menu--harira, kefta and seasonal fruit.  The apple was so sweet that I abandoned the ensuing plum because I just wanted to finish there.

Back to the hotel 10pm.  Nikky's looking to drink (asked for wine at dinner) but we need to do more research about the alcohol scene here.  Good thing there's an Irishwoman in the group so I'm not the only alcoholic.  Did some Internet stuff and transcribed these notes.  Took a PM pill right away.  Room is cool.. OK to sleep.


Back