Morocco - A New Experience

Last week we joined a coach trip from Nerja across to Tangier for three nights. So the answer to my challenge is that the photo was taken in the Rif Mountains on the way to the town of Chefchaouen, where the photos above were taken. This was a first visit to Morocco, and quite an eye-opener; I had imagined that it would be dry, brown and dusty, not at all the green, well watered land that it is - at least in the north of the country. It was clear too, that a one hour ferry journey from Tarifa to Tangier crossed from the first to the third world. There is a huge disparity between the living standards of those who live and work in the modern parts of the cities (we also visited Tetouan) and the rest of the population. Whilst the Kasbas and Mdinas are fascinating glimpses of an ancient way of life, they are also evidence that many people still live this way. In the countryside, travelling from one place to another I was struck by the universal presence of donkeys as a mode of transport, and by the number of people we saw leading a single cow on a rope to a patch of grazing where it could be tethered to feed. Men and women going to buy or sell in a nearby town were also a constant feature of the landscape, waiting patiently by the roadside for some vehicle to stop and offer them a lift. Finally I was struck by the fact that traditional Berber/Arab dress is still everyday dress. Men ( and not just older men) were as likely to be wearing a djellaba as to be wearing European dress. More difficult to accept was the constant presence of street hawkers pressing you to buy bracelets, watches, items of clothing or headgear, and the necessity for our coach driver to buy his way out of and back into the port in order to gain permission from some port employee or other to allow our baggage to stay on the bus through various spurious checks - though we all had to dismount and meet him on the other side, in order to pass through an unattended “control point”. Perhaps saddest of all was that it cost €10 for a ferry company employee to agree that, in view of the driving rain, one of our number, a wheelchair user, should be allowed onto the boat ahead of the rest of us.

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