I spent the last day in Tangier getting lost. When I travel, I turn my iPhone off only allowing myself access to WiFi at the hotel and at restaurants. It makes me truly appreciate the authenticity of the place by having a map in hand, for example, rather than relying on technology as I would back at home. You learn a lot about the people of each place, too, when asking for directions. Although most people of Tangier I ran into that day could not speak English, they were so kind in trying to help. I spent over an hour trying to get to a certain place, and my frustration level was so high that just wanted to take a taxi back to my hotel and wait around for dinner time until David would rescue me. Thank God I didn’t do that. It was my last day in Tangier and I wanted to be on foot exploring the beauty.
I was lucky, finally, when I ran into a particular set of young boys who got so frustrated speaking in Arabic to me, using body language by pointing this way and that, that they actually took me by the arm, walked me toward the direction that I should head in, and then turned around and went toward the opposite way from me that they were headed before I stopped to ask them for directions. Those young boys made me smile inside and out back then as they do now.
It was time to meet with the young woman I met at the roof of my hotel from two days prior. She brought a different friend than she was with when we met, and their spirits were so beautiful to me. We sat very close to the beach at a coffee/tea shop called La Veranda, and it was windy and chilly in that late afternoon in February. We ordered hot drinks to keep us warm, and of course, I had one of the most fond memories of my travel life talking to these young girls. They were so innocent yet so wise at the same time. They asked about my life in America, and after showing them pictures of Chicago’s architecture and the lake view from my apartment, I invited both of them to visit me whenever they wanted. They said they would love to, but they mentioned Trump and how because of his then recent ban of Muslims to the U.S., they would probably never get a chance to visit me. And the tone in their voices paralleled how I would have felt if I wasn’t allowed into a country for my religious beliefs: I would never want to go there. I felt so sad at the world at that moment, and I was actually embarrassed to be an American. What is interesting is that when I was in Granada and Seville just a week prior, many shop keepers mentioned Trump, too, and the tone was definitely not a pleasant one, either. But I digress…
We moved our topic of conversation to music. The two girls were so interested in American music! I shared the anthology of my music collection on my iPhone, and the girls pretty much knew every one of the artists that I liked. When I told them that I saw Bon Jovi in concert, they actually swooned. I love how music unites people. At that moment I was not just an American in Tangier. Instead, the three of us were suspended in one unified place, space, and time. Oh, how I wished the two of them would visit me so we could all go to a concert!
As time often passes too quickly when you don’t want it to, it was almost time to say goodbye. I was being picked up by David nearby, and the two girls walked me there. I felt so well taken care of and so grateful to the girls as I write this. Looking back I felt like royalty, the two young girls guiding me and protecting me from getting lost or being hit by the passing cars on the main road, the Avenue Mohamed VI. It is so rare that I’m being led by someone, let alone two teenage girls, and I feel so much gratitude for their generosity as I write this now. Oh, how I wished we had time to go shopping together as was originally planned before our time ran out! Our goodbye was a brief one since David’s car was at a stopping point perpendicular to the main, busy road. When I got in the car, he said that he thanked the girls for taking good care of me.
Before dinner, David wanted to show me his favorite spot to catch the sunset in Tangier. I have no idea where he took me but it was on a slight hill by car, and after parking we had to walk down a little to see the panoramic view. While walking he mentioned that I wasn’t dressed warm enough for the chill of that night, but he probably forgot that I was from Chicago. Something about a sunset is better appreciated in silence, I feel. Being mesmerized before a beauty of that magnitude requires respect, and I always feel awe when I witness sunsets around the world. This one was no exception. When it became too dark, it was time for dinner. As usual, I was famished.
The place was called El Tangerino. I smile as I write this now as the paella was delicious, and I can still hear David’s low voice as we shared the most delicious octopus. They were sliced thin and presented on a wooden board with potatoes, also sliced, that tasted like Yukon Gold potatoes. We had lots to drink, too, but we were sober since there were a lot of food. We talked about life, love, and everything truthful. David was surprised at how blunt I was. He said he never met someone so matter of fact, and he laughed. Let me assure you that we weren’t being flirtatious. I was just being honest, and maybe he was used to having women give him bullshit since he’s a good looking single doctor. Who knows. He said he found me refreshing, and he surprised himself even with his own candor and truth with someone he just met. I am smiling now as I think of his smile, his surprise, and his new-found honesty with a stranger. When it was getting too late, I paid the dinner bill since he paid the night before. I had a plane to catch in the morning.
The ride back to my hotel was beautiful, as all travel memories are in retrospect, especially at an exotic locale like Tangier. The night ride in a car after a good meal, lots of wine, and good conversation as well as good company leaves a very satisfying feeling of contentment. As the car was driving through the Medina in the dark, we stopped at my hotel. David got out and we both stood in front of the hotel’s large door to say goodbye. As we hugged, I didn’t expect him to kiss me but he did. It wasn’t disrespectful, though. He knew we were just friends, but the curiosity in him took over, maybe. We both smiled, and as I went up the marble stairs to my beautiful room in the Hotel Nord Pinus labeled “Ocean View,” and with thoughts of a brand new adventure awaiting me the next morning, I knew I would sleep with the sweetest of dreams in my last night in Tangier.