July 03, 2004
Out of Africa
DAY 254: "It's the end of an era," I told Sebastian as we rode on the last ferry from Africa into Europe across the Strait of Gibraltar. The nighttime ferry ride was the unforeseen final leg of a mad dash from Morocco to Spain.
"YOU WANT SOME HASH?" a grimy middle-aged man asked me at the store near the Blue Gate in Fez earlier that morning. To our last minute in town the incessant touts wouldn't back off.
"No, thanks," I answered. It wasn't unheard of to be involved in a drug deal like that (even without buying it), only to have the seller rat you out to the cops (real or fake) in order to ask you for a bribe.
"Can I give you a kiss?" he asked. I wasn't sure if he was sarcastically mocking me or being gay.
"Can I give your friend a kiss?" he called to Sebastian who was buying a bottle of water. Then he turned back to me with his ambiguously sarcastic tone. "I want to give you a kiss because you're so handsome."
Yup, it was definitely time to leave. Sebastian and I took the twelve noon bus northbound out of Fez.
Two hours later we arrived at the bus station in Tetouan, a place known for aggressive touts that know that any traveler is only there as a stopping point traveling between Morocco and Spain. Even before we got our bags off the bus, a tout followed us to just "be friendly" and "practice his English" for "no money." Sebastian and I tried to get rid of him politely but he wouldn't go away. I went to make a cash run at an ATM (both Sebastian and I were low on cash) while Sebastian did some guide research in the book. It was determined that the tout's suggestion of taking a shared taxi and not a bus to the port city of Ceuta (about thirty minutes away) was the thing to do, giving the fact that we still wanted to get the ferry to Europe and another bus afterwards to Cadiz.
Getting a taxi out of Tetouan was another annoying in itself though, with the tout trying to lead us to overpriced taxis. The arguments over price went on and on with a driver so much that Sebastian and I considered just taking a bus to the other (and bigger) port city of Tangier.
"I think the Italian guy really saved us," Sebastian told me.
The taxi ride along the northern cost of Morocco took us half an hour to the end of the line, a land border crossing into Spain; Ceuta lies in one of two tiny territories of Spanish soil on the African continent. After changing our remaining dirhams to euros and clearing customs, we walked across the border and into Spain -- without ever leaving Africa. Things were drastically different once we entered Spanish territory anyway; Ceuta (picture above) was a modern developed resort kind of town with a fancy marina, skyscrapers and palm trees.
Another taxi took us to the ferry terminal, dropping Fabrizzio off halfway to his stop -- it was almost as if he crossed paths with us solely as guidance to get into Spain from Tetouan. We hoped to get the next ferry out in hopes of getting into the Iberian Peninsula in a timely fashion in order to get the last bus to Cadiz, only to realize that in our casual stroll across the African land border from Morocco into Spain foiled our lofty travel plan of the day; we had jumped two hours into the future with the time zones. (Spain was one hour ahead, plus another hour for Daylight Savings adjustments.) The sun was still out but suddenly it was nearing 9:30 p.m. instead of 7:30, leaving us with no choice but to take the last ferry into Europe at eleven. In the meantime, we celebrated our long journey across Morocco with something we hadn't been easy to come across in a long time: beer.
"You're the youngest 29-year-old I've met," he told me. Most of his friends above twenty-four weren't venturing solo into the world with philosophies of cartoons like I was.
"I know, I just wrote a comment to your mom on The Blog that said that I'm not sure if you're just mature for your age or if I can just really relate to 20-year-olds."
I flipped through the Let's Go guide and found a hostel that only cost eight euros, a price that Sebastian could afford -- most other places were no cheaper than twenty, three to six times more than most of the places in Africa. (Welcome to Europe.) With that said, and Sebastian's self-aware ease of being persuaded, he decided to extend his travels with me for one more night. We got off the ferry and stepped into Europe -- a first for me on The Trip -- and wandered the night streets of Algeciras looking for the hostel with the cheap rates. We wandered for about an hour, lugging our big bags, only to get lost in the practically empty but modern town. Eventually we settled on a nice place overlooking a plaza for 14 euros each. I was so tired from the long journey from Fez that I passed out in my bed while waiting for Sebastian to get out of the shower.
And so, as I slept in a bed in a hostel with Western prices, a new era began: The Global Trip 2004 Part III: Europe & Siberia.
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