While Mohamed Ali, my guide, was waiting for me downstairs, I thought I might be able to escape from him somehow by checking out my hotel’s rooftop deck. I don’t know why I felt scared, so out of control that I would have to escape from him. Everything happened so fast from my pickup from the ferry to the cab ride to the hotel to the plans of going to Chefchaouen, the Blue City, the next day…all without ever truly committing to these plans. And yet, there I was. Things were happening FOR me. I then saw two girls that were just lounging around on the rooftop so I asked one of them, “Is this place safe?” As she sensed my fear, she assured me that I am perhaps in the safest place in all of Morocco. I felt relief immediately, and we exchanged phone numbers in case we would meet again. When I told her I was born in Seoul, she almost acted like I was some sort of celebrity as she confessed that she watches Korean videos and that she was obsessed with K-Pop. I couldn’t help but smile. I hoped that we would meet again.
When I was comfortable and ready for exploring in the medina with Mohamed Ali, I went downstairs to find him patiently waiting for me. I wasn’t scared anymore. He took me to local shops where the beauty and craftsmanship were undeniable. I felt pressure to buy at the first place since I was the only patron there. Then the second shop was much more friendly and without pressure. Mohamed Ali gets a cut, I assume, if a person he brings to the shop buys something. Then at the third shop, although I had no intention to buy, I saw something that intrigued me. Actually, if you are ever in Morocco, you want to buy everything since the beauty and unique items are impossible to buy in the U.S. After some bartering, which is a MUST in Morocco, I bought a box (like a jewelry box) made of camel bone and I forget what else. LOL. When you open it, there are leather fringes dangling from the lid….and it is beautiful!
While having my first meal in Tangier with Mohamed Ali, he was trying to sell me on all his tour services. I told him that I didn’t want to go to Hercules Cave, for example, but that I did want to visit Chefchaouen the next day. He called the driver who would take me there and confirmed my ride. I took Mohamed Ali’s number in case I needed him but I felt guilty knowing that I would never see him again.
When I came back to my hotel, I stepped into the lounge area which was pretty much a few steps up from my room. I wanted to check it out, and as I happened to ask a question to one of the guests there, I ended up sitting with the couple over a glass of red wine. The man was more social and quite jovial while the woman, his employee, was pretty quiet. After much talk about travel, life, and all happy things, the man invited me for dinner the next night. He said we would have a good Moroccan meal and watch some belly dancing. I was up for that, although I hoped that we wouldn’t have to partake in the actual dancing part. I would find out, I guess.
As I didn’t feel scared any longer, I went to my room and felt so, so lucky. Tangier, as well as Morocco, feels like no other place in the world. I can’t quite put into words. The gorgeous architecture, the beauty of the designs I saw while shopping , the colors, the food, and the fear (if you could call it that) I felt that day made me feel completely intoxicated with the greatest high of life. And with this intoxication of Tangier I went to bed in my gorgeous room while dreaming of all the shades of blue that I would see the next day. Chefchaouen, the Blue City, awaited me in the morning…