Today we are going to Muse about Tangier, the last stop on our Morocco trip. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
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Last Stop, Tangier
Our two-week tour was coming to an end. We had been to Marrakech, Rabat, Fes, Volubilis and Meknes. We had seen Medinas and Kasbahs. We had shopped and bought or considered buying spices, leather goods, carved wood pieces, dyed fabrics, woven carpets and ceramics. We had been seduced by the cuisine and rich history of Morocco and by the culture so very different from the one at home.
We were getting tired. One more stop, Tangier and then home.
Tangier (Tanger, Tangiers) is located at the northern tip of Morocco diagonally across from Gibraltar. The last time I had been there was in the early nineties. It was a city in decline. The days of intrigue, when “Tangier was considered as having international status by foreign colonial powers, and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, writers and businessmen”, were behind it. When independence from France and Spain was realized in the mid 1950’s, Tangier was ceded back to Morocco. Over time many businesses left and Tangier became a seedy port city. That is what I remembered.
The Changing City
What a pleasant surprise to see the area now. In the last twenty years the government has encouraged investment and development of the area. There is an emphasis on tourism and infrastructure. Around the city there were many construction projects. Cranes and scaffolding . . . we saw a lot of cranes and scaffolding.
Tangier sits on a bay with wide expanses of beach.
We had difficulty getting through this area because all along the beach area the government is building wide modern boulevards. The beach was dominated by people under thirty walking, playing soccer, fool’n around and occasionally swimming. Mostly men only.
The youthfulness of the group was refreshing but not surprising. A guide told us that 50% of Morocco’s population is under 25 years of age.
At one end of the city is the Medina and the Kasbah, the ancient parts of the city.
Spreading east are the newer sections of the city.
It is a wall of highrises and modern apartment buildings.
A guide-book I read extolled the beauty of the beaches and coast to the east and to the west of Tangier. But, it went on to say that if you wanted to enjoy them you should go soon because they are all rapidly being changed with development. I believe it. When I was first in the Costa del Sol in Spain, it was quaint and picturesque. Thirty years later it was congested and tacky. I think the northern area around Tangier within ten years could rival the Costa Del Sol or even the French Riviera.
While there, we went into the Medina of course. It might interest you to know that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States and our first foreign consulate opened during the Presidency of George Washington in the Medina of Tangier. Furthermore, in 1821, the Legation Building in Tangier became the first piece of property acquired abroad by the U.S. government. We wanted to see the American Legation Building, but unfortunately it was closed the day we were available.
We found the building after a strenuous uphill walk. Both of us were winded. Subsequently, in leaving, we got lost and wandered around narrow dark passageways trying to find our way out. After about fifteen minutes of frustrating maze adventure we came across a young girl who guided us back to more public areas. We gave her 5 Dirhams, about 50¢. She seemed happy.
We found ourselves at Le Petit Socco, a small square in the Medina. There, we spent time watching the people coming and going.
Notice all the men seated at the sidewalk café. That was very common: men; no women. It is a cultural issue I guess. Rarely would we see a woman or several women together, enjoying a sidewalk café. If you saw a woman seated you probably saw a tourist.
We enjoy a café.
Here is another one.
Again notice it is almost all men.
We watched the passing milieu.
Across the street was the French Embassy. I saw no security. Guess all are friends now.
Dinner at Miami Beach
One night we were looking for a place to eat. We saw an advertisement for the restaurant Miami Beach. It was on the water and we were told it was quite good. Well we thought, a taste of home.
But it was quite good and we beat the crowd.
Dinner at Villa Josephine
One night we told our concierge that we would like to go to an Italian Restaurant. He recommended Villa Josephine.
This was built by Walter Burton Harris around 1900.
Independently wealthy, he was a writer, journalist, traveller, socialite and correspondent for the New York Times. It is said he was the inspiration for the Indiana Jones character.
His Villa is now a hotel and the restaurant is well worth visiting.
Italian, it was not. Nice, it was!
If you find yourself in Tangier, I recommend it.
more to come
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