FORTY-NINTH MOVEMENT: MOROCCO
. . . but first, Gibraltar . . .
I woke up today at 10:30, showered, dressed, packed my bags, and got ready to leave on my flight to Morocco later in the day. I checked out at 11:30 and then hung around the hotel lobby, where I spent my time typing out journal entries and making updates to the website. At 15:30, I put my bags on and walked to Gibraltar International Airport’s terminal, which is located right next to the Spanish border. I reached the terminal at 16:02 and checked in for my 17:25 flight operated by Royal Air Maroc. I then passed through security (there was no Immigration or Passport Control, so I received no exit stamp to my passport) and waited in the departure lounge, where I had a pint of Heineken and some chips. At 16:30, the flight began boarding, so I quickly finished my Heineken and made my way to the departure gate. After having my boarding pass checked and waiting five minutes at the door to the runway, we were given the go-ahead to proceed to the aircraft (an ATR 72 Turboprop). I walked to and entered inside the airplane, stowed my carry-on, and found my seat. After the other passengers came on board, the plane closed its doors and started her engines. We were second to take off, behind a British Airways plane. Once the main street that crosses the runway was closed off to all traffic, the British Airways jet took off and we followed shortly behind. It would only be a thirty-minute flight to Tangiers, but we were given a complimentary drink (I chose apple juice) and I finished a second bag of chips I had bought back at the terminal (a spicy Bombay flavored bag of chips that tasted just like generic, curry-based Indian food).
. . . now Morocco . . .
As we neared the runway at Tangier Ibn Battouta Airport, the small plane swerved, tilted, and dropped several times, making this the bumpiest and scariest landing I’ve ever participated in (I handled in my usual way by laughing as I watched the other passengers’ nerves heighten). We then landed safely (shortly before 17:00 – Moroccan time) and parked next to the terminal. I exited the craft with my carry-on and walked inside the arrival area. After filling out an immigration slip, I passed through Passport Control. I then grabbed my checked bag and passed through Customs. Now, since no public transportation exists between the airport and Tangier (the Medina, where the hostel I booked with, is about thirteen kilometers away from the airport), I was left little option but to take a taxi. Inside the terminal, there was a listing of prices that are supposedly fixed by the government since taxis here don’t use meters; however, these taxi drivers, being the complete scum that they are (if you don’t believe me, try traveling the world and see if you come to an alternative conclusion), tried to get more out of me. After talking with the policemen nearby, I received a fairer estimate and went with that (150 dirhams, which, in my opinion, is way too high for a shithole like Tangier). I then entered in to a “taxi” (a normal car with a license on the front of its grill) and was driven to the Port de Tanger, next to the Medina. From there, I exited the taxi, walked past a couple of touts, and made my way to the hostel, which is located next to the old American Legation building in a crummy-looking area. After finding the hostel, I checked in, stored my bags, and enjoyed the view of Tangier from its rooftop terrace. I then laid down in my bed and took a late nap. I woke up after 20:30 and ventured out to grab some dinner. I walked southward until I found a place that looked okay and I had water, Sprite, spaghetti bolognaise, and bread. After dinner, I stopped at a convenience store and bought a large water and an apple soda to enjoy at the rooftop terrace. Eventually, around midnight, I went to sleep.