Bed bugs, white men and Morocco during Ramadan: How to avoid being a know-it-all solo traveler.

No two travel experiences are alike, and I can say that my trip across the big pond is evidence of this. During my study abroad in Seville, Spain I took a solo weekend trip to Tangier, Morocco during Ramadan. I couldn’t believe it was literally 30 minutes from Spain, so I took advantage and hopped on a Ferry from Algeciras to Tangier. As easy as the trip seemed, it ended up being a hand full, as this two day trip ended up being the most expensive to both my time and my pocket. The best way to explain my trip is to break it down into 3 terms: bed bugs, The Old Medina and the old white man.

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The Strait of Gibraltar

THE BED BUGS: While planning my trip, I had a small amount of Hostels that I could choose from for the “low low” ($). One that caught my eye on Hostelworld.com was “The Melting Pot Hostel. It was easy to find in the Old Medina and it had an amazing breakfast, decked out with fresh fruits, pancakes and Moroccan mint tea. I stayed in a mixed dorm with a 55-year-old German man named Johnny (more about Johnny later on, he’s quite the charmer). It wasn’t overly crowded and it was pretty quiet. Breakfast was definitely my favorite part about the hostel, but it is too bad that I did not read all of the reviews. After two nights I noticed a rash spread all over my body, and bed bug bites covered me from head to toe.  Needless to say, pay attention to reviews, as the most convenient option to your budget isn’t always the best one.

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Moroccan Mint tea!

THE OLD MEDINA: I kept in mind that it was Ramadan and that I should dress more conservatively, especially when walking around The Old Medina. I also didn’t want to stick out too much, so before leaving Seville I bought a white shirt from H&M, harem pants, Birkenstocks and a scarf I could drape around my shoulders. I wore this for two days, and it served some of its purpose. I definitely dressed the part, but I still screamed tourist. It’s not only because of my brown skin, but I believe that I was not approached as much as others said I would be because of the way I dressed. People did still approach me, but it’s probably because I looked lost in the Old Medina.

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The Hand of Fatima, a symbol of good luck, is common all over the city

The Old Medina is filled with so much history and beauty, and I wish I could’ve learned a lot more about it while I was there. Two days is not enough to take in the whole city. A lot of buildings and museums were closed for the holiday. When I go back, I’ll definitely check them out.

THE OLD WHITE MAN: I have always used mixed dorms, and have never had a problem with them. The worst experience I’ve had is probably seeing a bare ass at 4 o’clock in the morning in Bogota, but I would definitely put Johnny at the top of the list. One thing that threw me off was him rubbing his stomach and calling me a very pretty girl (yes dad, this happened). I took a few things from our conversations though. Johnny was not the biggest fan of the area, and constantly complained about people asking him if he wanted a tour around the city, if he could spare a euro or two, or if he wanted some hash. This led him to staying in the hostel for the rest of his trip, which probably didn’t help him enjoy it any more than he already was. Johnny should’ve known he was no longer in Germany. If you’re going to be a Johnny, then stay at home. Spare me and everyone else from creepy vibes, and negativity.

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A view of The Old Medina

 

THE CONCLUSION: Johnny asked me a question that really got me thinking; “what is it like for you to walk around the city alone?”. To answer his question, Tangier wasn’t what I was expecting and walking around alone in Tangier was a lot different than walking alone around Spain. Even though the countries are very close, they offer two contrasting realities. I thought of Camel rides and blue cities, and what I was met with is how people live extremely different than me. At first I wasn’t happy with my experience in Tangier, but looking back I think it was an important trip to take. Instead of complaining about being outside of my comfort zone, I should’ve looked deeper into why and how people live the way they do. When I return to Morocco, I think I’ll have a better idea of what to expect and how to interact with people. I’m looking forward to my next visit.

Until next time,

 

The Traveling Afro

 

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