Leaving Tangier, Morocco…one week before 9/11/2013
I apologize for my lapse in blogs since my last entry; life happens.
Anyhow, finally as we were being driven out of the Medina of Tangier towards the ferry terminal we began to take a very hungry breath of accomplishment. What we had just endured was such an educational experience for us- especially for me, as a liberated woman. I was more than ready to return to the EU where women were regarded as equals….and to a region in which I could communicate.
Super! We arrived at the international ferry terminal!!!! We passed through the ex-ray bag check which is normal for any country in the world….then, we entered HELL.
As soon as we entered the passport control area, we were encompassed by throngs of people in burkas pushing luggage and screaming children in carriages, men pushing through other groups of people with impunity and disrespect. All personal space was lost; I was intimately knowledgeable of all around me and they me. There were no niceties. All shoved and mowed over any and all in order to get through customs…so alien to our culture of order. My travel companion found someone in command and bribed him….it didn’t work….thank God we weren’t arrested.
Like the tides of the oceans, we moved with the crowds- for HOURS!! As time passed, my travel companion and I counted down our chances for escape. Two ferries came and went. I actually fought with a grandmother who was hurting me by shoving her luggage into my ankles. Was this “Lord of the Flies”? Keep in mind that we hadn’t eaten a thing since coffee and toast in civilized UK Gibraltar that morning. I was afraid.
All of a sudden, we had the opportunity to push other people out of the way and get to the customs officer….remember, there was NO LINE, JUST A MOB SCENE. We acted like savages, shoved our passports through, received our stamps and moved on.
Next…..food, that has been made elsewhere….not in Morocco….anything processed- SO ANTI-ME!!!
I ran to the gift shop and purchased Toblerone and Pringles (anything not exposed to the environment, as all I’d seen previously was covered in flies) , while my travel companion took his place on the ramp to board the ferry to Spain….the LAST ferry of the night. De Ja Vu hit us…now we understood why we saw people RUNNING OFF OF THE FERRY AND MOBBING TO BOARD THE FERRY earlier in the day. Now, we were fighting for our lives to return to civility. We pushed and shoved and almost jumped aboard the ferry….just as we’d witnessed hours earlier.
Upon arrival to the EU, I had the opportunity to speak with the same Spanish officer with whom I’d spoken earlier. She asked how our day had been….my answer was, “terrifying, discriminating, never again.” She replied, “I wanted to warn you not to go on your own, but it’s against EU policy”. UNDERSTOOD!!! I knelt down and kissed EU ground.
Finally, we passed through check point charlie, into Gibraltar. Now, as I’ve mentioned to you in earlier blogs, Gibraltar is part of the UK – not the EU. One must produce passports/or such other id, in order to enter. There is an international airport at the border, which is diligently guarded “Like the Rock of Gibraltar”; the one and only runway is crossed by all and any passing from the UK to the EU. Unfortunately, there have been some North African terrorist events lately which have been thankfully foiled by the UK in Gibraltar. Ironically, the moon was full and my travel companion and I were exhausted and enthralled with the moon and the Rock. We stopped on the tarmac to photograph the moon and were immediately swarmed by UK soldiers. Thankfully, they understood our long, dramatic day and released us without consequence. Next, we went to the only restaurant open in Gibraltar- the Irish Pub, in which I immediately threw away the argan oil I was forced to purchase and we ate our weight in comfort food.
One last note, this trip was made one week before the last 9/11/12 evil actions; the northern African area was more dangerous than I had realized at the time of our adventure. I have many Muslim friends whom I consider family and whom I respect deeply.