Tangier Morocco

We took the coastal route for the short drive from Assilah to Tangier.
After getting lost a bit, we met our host Peter at the big circle outside the Medina.

Peter showed us where to park, and we put on our backpacks and walked what seemed to be a long walk down busy lanes of the medina, to his beautiful Dar B&B.

We got an airy lovely roof top room with stained glass windows and a lovely garden.
In the bedroom, the author Paul Bowles, stares at me from some black and white photos on the wall.

Paul Bowles became a part of Gertrude Stein’s literary and artistic circle in Paris in the 1930’s.
He moved to Tangier permanently in 1947.

A few years back, I saw a documentary about his life in Tangier.
He was married to author and playwright Jane Auer, but he lived openly as a bisexual man.
Although, it seemed like his wife was the only woman he was interested in, otherwise, there were only mentions of his many love affairs with numerous young men.

He was an old man at the time of the documentary, reflecting with honesty on his life.
He had a sad and air about him, although I doubt he would have agreed with me…

Among his many books, Paul Bowles translated a book of stories that an illiterate Moroccan man told him.
It is a wonderful book called: “A life full of holes.”

Tangier’s old Medina is alive with people.
Every narrow alley has a large amount of people coming in and out of…
The shops are filled with goods, but the tourists shopping are few…after all they do sell the same crafts, jewelry and clothing everywhere….. we were told that in summertime it is much busier.

There are many tourists around, just not the usual dreadfully huge amount, that make the merchants happy…. But make booking a nice room, or a table at a restaurant difficult.

Tangier is a port town.
It is connected to Spain by a short 35 minute ferry ride on the speed ferries, or it takes an hour on the regular ferry.

Over mint tea on the rooftop patio, Peter admitted to us that Tangier has some shady characters living in it….

Tangier has always been a major port for the drug trade, and it is still very much a visible and palpable part of the place.

It is so amazing to see how the pleasure and escapism seeking foreigners, live next to mountain women selling fresh goat cheese with a huge shy smile…. And next to hard working local people, as well as devout Muslim people.

Walking into the old Medina, I was offered drugs a few times, by young skinny men with quick eyes, standing on street corners ready to make a trade.

Pipes, and paraphernalia for preparing and for smoking drugs are sold in many stores.
Young western hippies walk around in loose arab cotton shirts, brown sandals and unruly beards, looking for hashish…. They do not have to look far… It is available on every corner.

The houses in the Medina are ancient, rundown and crumbling… Although some old houses, like the one we are staying in, are beautifully renovated.

The merchants in the market yell at you if you take their photo.
Some merchants have an obvious love-hate relationship with the tourists.

We strolled through the busy lanes, tried on some Jellabas, had mint tea in a central cafe, overlooking a busy area, and watched the people walking by.
Some were selling street food… Blind men begging… Poor ladies selling tissue paper….Richer ladies wearing fashionable sunglasses, mobile phones and stylish full length traditional cover dress and makeup…. The parade of human life walked by….

Later we had dinner in one of the makeshift restaurants in the street.
The kitchen looked fairly clean…… and besides….we heard of people getting sick eating in “clean” places.
In Morocco, just because you get a lovely and clean sitting area in a restaurant, it does not at all imply that the kitchen is lovely and sanitary as well…

Tangier is an interesting place…. But Not a restful place….
We did see some obvious junkies and life long Hashish users, with nervous restless minds that can only be placated when smoking….

Tangier is a city with a long history.
In later times, it used to be an international zone, with delegations from many countries who took strategic interest in the Straits Of Gibraltar, which is where the Atlantic Ocean meets with the Mediterranean Sea, right below Spain and above Tangier.

In the still existing Paris Cafe, many secret agents from European countries, the USA and Japan, were seen doing deals and exchanging intriguing information.

When Morocco gained independent in 1956 a major “Clean Up” of the city started, in the wake of many pedophile complains.
They closed most of the gay bars, as well as more than 100 brothels, and inside the medina, banned alcohol use, which still is the case today.

With the end of the International zone, the banking interests also closed and moved up to Switzerland.

I am not in love with the allure of dark alleys, crime, shady characters, spy intrigue and paid gay sex, all laced with swirling clouds of Hashish…

Years ago, I gave up my childish death defying fear based attitude, for a Life-Affirming State of Mind.

I prefer sun, light, diving, cycling, sports, not smoking, not throwing up in toilets because I had too much alcohol….
I prefer beautiful, light filled and clean living spaces, fresh juices and healthy food…
I prefer kind people rather than hurting and cynical people.

But despite my preferences, last night I had two wonderful dreams.

In one of them I took to the air and was flying over Tangier…..
And in the other dream I was explaining some Truth Principles to somebody….
Who knows….
Perhaps it was all those long hooded Jellabas that I was trying on during the day… That made me look like Merlin the Magician, that inspired those dreams….

I recall a quote from Paul Bowles: “How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it?
Perhaps four or five times more.
Perhaps not even that.
How many more times will you watch the full moon rise?
Perhaps twenty.
And yet it all seems limitless….”

― Paul Bowles, from his book “The Sheltering Sky.”

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