Our last Spanish stop was in Seville, so we needed first to find us some coastline. Googlemaps convinced us that the easiest port to cross from was Algeciras- we booked a 6 pm crossing in order to give ourselves enough time to get down there.
|Andy drinking Moroccan mint tea while still in Spain.
Algeciras- apologies to anyone who lives or loves there- doesn’t seem to have much happening. Also, there are a lot of men just kind of loitering. We spent several hours drinking tea, and several more sitting in the departure area waiting to get on the boat.
The terminal is a bit chaotic. In the creepy empty way, but more so in the ‘you don’t really know what’s going on’. Some people went through customs, the ‘POINT OF NO RETURN’ according to signs, only to be returned ten minutes later. Our boat was late, so we were worried we’d miss it, but the man kept telling us to just wait until he came to get us.
Algeciras is not really a tourist crossing point. They make you leave your luggage in a hold and then lead you somewhere, which made me kind of uncomfortable. The boat didn’t leave for nearly an hour after it should have, and it was hard to find out what was really going on and what we were supposed to be doing. The single announcement that they made regarding the formalities of changing continent was easily muffled by the sounds of hundreds of muttering people. We only found out that we had to go and get our passports stamped because we looked so darn white: a guard came up and scolded us for not responding to the impossible-to-hear QuietSpeaker.
It takes a long time. We thought ’30 minutes’ because our ticket said we would leave at 6 and arrive at 6:30. But that seemed to be factoring in an extra hour for changing time zones, plus one or two other hours for ‘sitting and waiting’.
|I got told off for taking this photos.
Once our arrive, it’s hard to know what to do. It seems that Algeciras is the port people use if they want to bring their cars across. So the doors open, and everyone gets in their cars and drives off. You’re left, to first find where they put your luggage, and then to duck and weave between vehicles to find your way past.
All this sounds like I’m being way too hard on Tangier, the town that we landed in. And I totally am. We came in late at night, had a fairly horrible time, and left the next day. At this point, I was actually concerned that our Moroccan friend back home would ask us how our trip was and we would have nothing nice to say. Sorry Tangier- it’s possible that I could eventually grow to love your wild border-town ways, but on the first try you didn’t win my heart.
To be honest, first being in Morocco had very much the feeling of ‘We’re not in Kansas Anymore’. It’s not Europe, and while I’d love to think that I’m a seasoned enough traveler to roll with the punches, I’m just not- it took a while to adapt to the shift.
If you’re planning a Moroccan adventure- and you totally should- I think you should start in the capital Marrakech. It’s much ‘tamer’, and there seem to be enough tourists to go around- meaning you have time to get used to the cultural differences before wandering into more hectic places. Plus, on our gradual journey south, we noticed that it seems to be more popular to go from South to North, and for this reason, there are more services (tours etc.) in that direction.
But, if, like us, you’re romanced by the idea of crossing from a whole friggin continent to another on a BOAT, then you should NOT do it as we did. Instead, take the 9 am bus from Seville down towards Algeciras, but get off at Tarifa. You can then head straight onto the boat, and cross in literally half an hour, straight into Tangier, on a boat overrun with tourists (and thus full of helpful information about what to do and where to be). And then, you don’t arrive at night! Double bonus.
The next morning we had a couple of hours to look around the city briefly before getting on another bus. Here are a couple of photos from that morning.