A new continent was on the horizon as we departed La Linea, Spain and crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.
At Tangier, Morocco we receieved an extremely enthusiastic, “Welcome!” from overstaffed, underutulized, shiny new Tanja Marina Bay.
We were thrilled to finally meet Maree & Phil, aboard Detour’s sister ship Red Roo (Alliage 38’), who met us jovially at the Welcome Pontoon. We also found a friendly winter crowd at Tanja Marina Bay and effortlessly befriended Shannon & Tony aboard Sweetie and Jean & Yolène aboard Caffe Latte.
Diving straight into the culture shock that is Morocco, Brian and I ventured into Tangier during our first of many wanderings and returned home with a brand...new... rug! Yes, while mindlessly meandering through narrow medina streets we got suckered into a shop. After a “friendly” mint tea and a “photo-op” with a stellar roof-top view of the city, we sat attentively captive through a presentation and reluctantly haggled our way toward selecting a tiny, silk Moroccan rug.
Our initial rug purchase highlighted a few important tips. First, always bargain! Unless a price is clearly listed on an item, when shopping in Morocco, always aim low for a better deal.
Next, it’s OK to say, “No thanks!” This is our weakness because we are yes-people! But when put into practice, saying no actually allows us to walk away happily, rug-free. It is important to use the word NO and not to shrug off a sales pitch with a response like, “Thanks, but maybe later.” Moroccans remember you’ve suggested, “...maybe later,” and when you walk past the shop again (white tourists are totally recognizable even in crowded medina streets) the shopkeepers make another pitch.
Brian became quite savvy at bargaining. When we were ready to shop, Moroccans wanted to help us to find exactly what we wanted; any color, any size, any shape, any amount. Shopping for anything from copper tubing to leather became less hassle and more fun!
Getting lost in the medina is a common occurrence. Being led or tailed by chatty Moroccans who want to make a few dirhams by leading you to their cousin’s father’s shop can be avoided with that magic phrase, “No Thanks!” Do not pay anyone who offers to lead you back out of the medina! We never paid anyone and were content being lost, but had been warned by Moroccans about this ruse particularly common in larger cities.
Tangier remained our hub, as we traveled throughout northern Morocco. We had lots to learn and much more to see!