The Shareef don’t like it…

December 13, 2018

Tarifa is a small port in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, on the southernmost coast of Spain. It is primarily known as one of the world’s most popular destinations for wind sports. The town is located on the Costa de la Luz and across the Straits of Gibraltar facing Morocco. At exactly 36 degrees latitude, it is the southernmost point of Continental Europe, situated south of the two African capital cities of Tunis and Algiers.

Africa, namely the port of Tangier, is a mere 45 minutes by catamaran. An opportunity not to be missed to venture out of the EU & get my first official stamp in my passport.

My first stamps

Leaving Tarifa and entering the Straits of Gibraltar you first feel the swell of the sea before gazing upon Sagrado Corazon de Jesus’ at the end of the outer breakwater.

‘Sagrado Corazon de Jesus’

Arriving on African soil for the first time, was a bit of a non-event, the rain hammered down, and the wind tried it’s best to shake the living daylights out of everything. A trip to Tangier felt like a fine day in Burry Port.

It was a small consolation being told it was 23C on Tuesday and it has not rained in 3 weeks when your guides script has lines items such as ‘well from here you can see the ocean on a clear day’.

Le Mirage, Tangier

Eventually we ended up in the old city and went on a guided tour of the Medina, the old Bazaar, and the European quarter. Our guide Mr Mohammad is a graduate of the local university who majored in the only subject at the time, tourism. He adorned himself in a navy blue Fez, traditional djellaba finished off with black Chelsea boots. Unfortunately, we just called him ‘Jeff’ as in, the striking resemblance to one Mr Goldblum.

Mr “Jeff the fly” Mohammad

Next turn on the bill was Mr Abdullah. By day managing director of a busy Berber rug emporium and purveyor of quality Moroccan Tat, whilst by night I am sure he is Tangier No1 Comedian starring in “Live at the Casbah”.

Paul A “It’s the way I sell ‘em” Abduallah

Lunch was at a local Moroccan restaurant and although tasty and wholesome, my tagine recipe has more kick. The accompaniment whilst we dined was supplied by Morocco’s number 1 Take That tribute – “Take Out”. I wasn’t too sure about their versions of anything and did suggest that they were more like the Moroccan “Status Quo” as in they only knew one tune but could play it in 4 keys.

L-r Howard, Jason, Mark & Gary – “Take Out” 78th Reunion Tour

Where ever you go, you get hassled by street vendors trying to sell you anything from a €25 Rolex to their sister. They are a pain in the derrière – I screamed at one in rhyme, I said “12 times I said No- 13 I ignore.” Being polite sometimes isn’t the best way to deal with persistence.

This guy took a pic of me to sell – I took 16 of him to blackmail, what an amateur

Venturing into the Bazaar, the Medina, and European Square you get a flavour of the real Morocco which is as every stereotype would have you believe, a dark, smelly place whose inhabitants wish to fleece you at any and every opportunity.

Venture out into the newer areas and you find a truly international city with varying commercial activities, a true jewel in the North African crown.