Oct 24 Casablanca

As I noted above I arrived at 4:30 AM from Tangier, which was an extension of my final day in Tarifa.  I hitched a ride to town from my country hotel along the highway west of town.  Another guest visiting from London had planed to spend the day kite surffing but alas one of those rare days there was no wind in the windy city.  He left around noon and was going to meet some friends and play around of gtolf.  He dropped me near the port and pointed out a good fish resturant and I was on my own for the afternoon.  I had a delicious grilled white fish lunch and headed out to expore the town.  There were lots of local tourists out and about and it was interesting to visit the ancient city with narrow streets and high walls.

The ferry is scheduled at 6:00 PM and the 2 hour time difference should put me in Tangier before it is too dark.  I had puzzled earlier about the time difference but when I realized that we motored west for 35 minutes I got out the map and detcted how far west Tangier is relative to Tarifa and Gibralter.  Upon landing in Tangier I heard a young man ask if I spoke English.  His name is Ike and he was looking for the train station.  I said ‘it,s easy walk about 5 kilometers south along the beach front prominade and when you see McDonalds turn right the train station is right in front about another kilometer or so.  Or you canb walk along with me since that is where I,m going.’  We headed out dodging the taxies, the kids and the hustlers.  The brease was appreciated as we each had our packs on and it was still warm from the day.  I stopped at a hunut and bought some yorgurt and water and we made the 7 or 8 kilometer trip in about 45 minutes.

He purchased a ticket to Merikesch and I already had mine in hand for the same train.  We hung out for the two or three hours until train time.  His parents, mom is an American, on a bus tio India via Afganistan and Pakistan I,m guessingt back in the 70s.  He was somewhat impressed that I had  made the similar trip a few years earlier and heading the other way.

My earlier comment about McDonnalds as a sigh post generated some email notes from by friends.  Yes Virgina McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and Dominos have all been spotted as I tour around.  Which leads to a discussion about food.  Never one to intentionally miss a meal I have done my best to keep up my record.  I have done so without having to crash at one of the afore mentioned estqblishments.  They used to say that the way to a man,s heart was through his stomoch and  that might still hold true in some parts but it leads to questions like what do women want any way and I think I,ll leave that subject to another blog, maybe another blogger since I only have opinions and no real emperical data.

The food here has been generally good.  It is the end of summer in the north and the mountains are on the edge of fall frost if they haven,t already experienced it.  This may limit the options for variety when it comes to fresh friuits and vegitables, but in the souq,s , markets and super markets, there is still a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Getting them on your plate is a little more problematic.  The timing of eating here is a late breakfast, later lunch and late dinner.  Add in travel schedules and limited transportation and language ability and things get a little more tricky.

Resturant prices  can be quite reasonable to expensive.  Beer and wine is sometimes available, more later when I talk about bagdad by the sea, and again runs the gamet.  Food here is very much a carb based diet.  Not so cool for a diabetic like me.  Bread, two kinds, rice, potatos salad, and French fries dominate every meal.  The special meal of the week, couscous, is a derivative of wheat.  I,m not quite sure how it is processed, Wikapedia when I get home, but it is not unlike pasta I think.

Today for lunch I had the traditional soup, harira,  and salad.  The soup is a garbonso bean base, probably with chicken broth and a variety of other staches including pasta, and various vegetables.  It varies from establishment to establishment but it is thickened with starch of some type.  Add bread, dates and a boiled egg and, waha, you have almost a  lunch.  I added a salad which was four leaves of lettuce, a scoop of rice, a scoop of potatoes boiled and sliced, diced beets, a table spoon of canned corn and a table spoon of canned sardeans.  Some sliced tomatoes, shreded carotts and a half a boiled egg.  Not bad as salads go but half the plate was carbs.  I,ve adjusted by taking an extra dose of my med to compensate and get my sugqr levels down.

The fish in Tangier, and Spain, was quite good but often it is deep fried with more French fries.   Tangine, a variety of chicken, beef, and fish dishes are available with squash, potatoes and a deep brown sauce is quite tasty.  The couscous usually has chicken and carrots and is usually eaten family style with  everyone eating out of the same bowel with bread used as the utinsil of chocie.

Ice cream in a variety of flavors is available along with some very tasty looking pastries of various shapes, colors and sizes with honey playing a predominant role in many of these great looking temptations.  I,ve had some great apples and melons to finish off my diner.  A variety of fresh jucies are available along with processed yorgart.  Some places offer varoius kinds of meat on skewers and wrapped in bread.  All good.  Generally I,ve eaten without problem, save one night, although it seems a bit redundant, probably due to limited budget and language.

Language is another frustration.  As you probably know I speqk several languages, I,m still working on English as some have pointed out in my blog postings of late.  But I don,t have any real ability in French, I read better than I speak, and other than a dozen or so words of Aribic I,m pretty much at the mercy of hand jestors, once in a while someone speks q little Spanish or even  English.  As a PeaceCorps volunteer we pride ourselves with having a language ability in our host country.  This follows me all my life and I find it frustrating that I am only scratching the surface.


About thaineha

I am a returned peace Corps Volunteer, North Borneo (Sabah) Malaysia 1962-64 I am making my first trip to Africa. I will spend two weeks in Morocco, and about three weeks in Senegal and Mali. I plan to travel overland from Dakar to Bamako. I hope to meet a few Peace Corps Volunteers along the way and learn how Peace Corps service has changed over the years. I live in California and spent most of my working life as a health economist working in rural health care development throughout the US, California and a variety of international projects.
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