For our last full weekend in Morocco, students and program leaders boarded the bus at 7:00 a.m. to make our way up north to Tangier. Tangier is a port city with centuries worth of history and some very important neighbors. To start our trip, we visited the Cave of Hercules and Cape Spartel. Both locations were full of breathtaking views and it was hard for me to leave either one. Because Tangier is so close to Spain, students got the chance to use Spanish with the local merchants as well as the French and Darija spoken in Rabat and Marrakech.
After the Cape, we headed into the city itself for the rest of the day. After lunch and a tour of Association Darna-an organization that educates women, children, and teens on various skills like language, sewing, etc-the group met up with some tour guides to learn more about Tangier. For many students, including myself, the defining moment of the tour was when our guide took us to a lookout. Behind the white buildings of Tangier and across the Atlantic Ocean stood Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar. The idea that someone could take a ferry and arrive at another country on a different continent was something many of us had never encountered before. For me, that made it so apparent that the world is so much smaller than we think and reflects Tangier’s diverse and distinct culture which was developed through the city’s interaction with foreign neighbors.
Once the tour was finished, everyone was given a few hours to shop in the Souk and buy some gifts. Not nearly as crowded as Jemaa- El Fina or Rabat, the souk wound up and down the streets and held a variety of clothing, jewelry, and trinkets. Our haul included some scarves, handmade leather camels, kaftans, a few rugs, and many, many postcards. Around 6:30, we all reboarded the bus and headed home to Rabat where our host families were waiting with dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Tangier was by far my favorite excursion of the trip. Between the views, history, and diverse environment this city had it all. Tangier was peaceful and welcoming, but not sleepy. Instead it was filled with a laid-back liveliness that made it unforgettable to me. When I come back to Morocco, I can’t wait to spend more time exploring the “Door of Africa”.