Morocco - The Land of the Sunset

Morocco - The Land of the Sunset
Cape Spartel, Morocco

So, it's time to head to Morocco, my second visit there. My first was with John ten years ago. At that time, we were there for 4-5 days. Mohammed and Mohammed drove us around the country and arranged our accommodation and tours in the places where we stopped. Mohammed Two was the driver, and we didn't get to know him as he didn't speak English. Mohammad One was the age between my two kids, and after our time together confined in a car, I told him I was adopting him. Since then, we have stayed in contact, and he calls me MoM. We helped him a little during Covid.

When we arrived in Barcelona after our tour in 2013, John's backpack, including my camera and digital cards, was stolen at the airport. The Internet in Morocco, at that time, needed to be faster to download content. (see my blog about Barcelona). My memories tie to my photos. So, I have wanted to return to Morocco to replace those photos. John - not so much.

So, Morocco rose to the top when deciding where to go on this trip. I contacted Mohammed, and we started to discuss a tour. Ultimately, we decided on a seven-day drive around the country. It had to include a stay in the Sahara, as it rained the last time we were there. We didn't see a sunset, the stars or the sunrise. I plan on fixing that, too.

First, I have to get there! Orly Airport has four terminals or zones. I could improve at following my advice. I should have done some research before I got to the airport. The taxi dropped me off at the entrance. I had language issues getting information about where I needed to be. I arrived plenty of time ahead, so I was not worried when I was in Zone Four. I walked. It felt like a long way, especially given my last two days in Paris.

Partway there, I got a shooting pain near my glute that stopped me dead. I had great difficulty moving my right leg at all.

At that point, I saw a sign for Mobility Assistance. I approached them and explained that I was in pain. They looked at my boarding pass and turned me down with no explanation.

I struggled to the gate. The research now tells me that there was a shuttle between terminals.

I grabbed one more pain de chocolate and an Americano to smooth my shattered nerves. Once I got on the flight, I found my seat was 7C. A woman was already there and asked if I would sit in the fourth row so she could sit with her mother. It made no difference to me. I moved to 4D and got settled when the woman and I realized we were actually in row three! Everyone shuffled, and we flew to Tangier, a city I had never been to.


Mohammad and his younger brother Mustapha, our driver, picked me up at the airport. Seeing him again was initially uncomfortable as a semi-stranger, especially as a married man with a four-year-old daughter and a newborn son.

We drove from the airport to the Hercules Caves, 14 km from Tangier and near Cape Spartel Lighthouse, the entrance of the Straight of Gibraltar, the northernmost point in Morocco. This Lighthouse protects two seas and three continents. Due to the possibility of shipwrecks, in 1864, ten countries agreed to share the cost of running the Lighthouse. It is a beautiful site. It was cloudy, and we were unable to see Gibraltar.

"The first thing that will strike you about the Caves of Hercules is its name, which you will immediately associate with the character from Greek and Roman mythology. Legend states that Hercules rested in this cave system after separating the European and African continents. It is said that he placed one pillar on each side of the divide. On the European side, this would have been the Rock of Gibraltar. The African pillar is still being determined, but Monte Hacho and Jebel Musa are the most credible candidates. After sleeping in the cave, Hercules continued working on one of the twelve tasks that had been assigned to him for killing his wife and children. In this case, to fetch the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. It is said that nymphs and a hundred-headed dragon protected this garden."

Hercules is fighting Acehlous, Louvre.

Hercules asked Atlas to get the apples for him, as Atlas could attend Hesperide's garden as a relative. Atlas agreed to Hercules holding up Heaven while Atlas got the apples from the garden. When Atlas returned with the apples, he didn't want to hold up the Heavens anymore and asked Hercules to do that for him. Hercules agreed but had Atlas take the weight back for a moment so Hercules could adjust the weight. Atlas put down the apples and took the Heavens back. Hercules reneges on the deal and leaves with the golden apples.

Morocco takes great pride in its association with Hercules, and the Cape and the Caves have become tourist sites.

Within the cave, the opening toward the ocean is said to have the shape of the continent of Africa.


Hercules's Cave

We drove back to Tangier and walked around the medina, the old town or historical area of town. Then, we had the traditional Moroccan meal of a tagine sitting on a patio.

From Tangier we drove on to Tetouan where we were to stay the night. My hotel was a riad. Riad's are residences that have been converted into hotels. The outside of a riad is usually very plain, the interior has a garden or a courtyard, with communal areas and individual rooms, that is open above. Often very decorative.

At the Riad, unfortunately, I was given a room way up a lot of stairs and my legs were less than happy. However, isn't the tile awesome. I had a chance to really check it out while I stopped at each level.

This was a stop over on our way to the Chefchaouen, the Blue City. We were starting to get into mountainous area.

On arriving at the Riad, I noticed a sign saying that there was a Hammam deal of €15 for the Hammam and a message. I thought it might benefit my body's shape, so I took advantage of that. It was getting close to closing, so they rushed me to the hammam with the bucket of items I needed.

Have you ever been to a Hammam? I hadn't. The woman who did the wash, theTellak, seemed slightly annoyed that I arrived so late. Maybe she was hoping to go home early. No one spoke English, so much was done with hand signals and demonstrations. I had to strip down. The woman helping me was in underpants and nothing else, so I also left my undies on. Nope - that was wrong.

So now I was in a large room which was very hot. It was a very traditional Hamman and likely just for locals. There were a couple of other women there who were mid-wash. There wasn't a separate steam room. The young woman directed me to different positions on the floor, sitting and laying, pouring lots of hot water and scrubbing me with a scrubbing glove.

I kept telling myself that this exfoliating was good for my skin. The Tellak was a strong young woman who was scrubbing hard. I was lying flat on the marble floor. She washed me down with soap and dumped water over my head and body. She then washed my hair aggressively. It ended up incredibly soft. However, it may have broken some ends as it became frizzy. The experience was enjoyable and authentic. If you are modest, this might be difficult for you. I've had babies; I don't have much modesty left! The massage was all part of the bath, in this case, but was short as there was not time left. I was warned of that.

I was relaxed and just wanted to stay in my Green room after that to catch up for the little sleep I had gotten the last few days. I asked Mohammad for, and got, some samosas for dinner.


We're headed to Chefchaouen -the Blue City-tomorrow.

Until next time.......

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Gaye Tims

My name is Gaye and I am travel junkie in need of a fix. I have been torn between travel, creative arts and the law. Now I am giving into my creative side by including travel and lifestyle in my blog.
Vancouver, BC, Canada