|Ferry to Tangier|
After I disembarked, a Moroccan woman from immigration approached me with a thermometer and wanted to check my temperature - evidently another disease was being exported around the world from Canada - swine flu. I told her I hadn't been back to Canada for years and she needn't bother with the thermometer. 'Oh, I’m fine,' I said waving my hand, and to my surprise she grinned and walked away. As I gazed around the streets outside the terminal, a grubby fellow with a pronounced limp came over and stood beside me. His dirty hair was tangled and hung down his back. 'Need hotel?' He was okay even though he was caked in grime and I was just too tired to argue, so I stumbled along behind him as he carried my bag up the long flight of stone steps into the medina.
Abdul took me to a place which was a total dump, but given the surroundings it looked like the best of the lot. I'll figure it all out tomorrow, I thought. I gave him 30 dirhams, which I realized later was probably too much but what the hell, he helped me out. I was also overcharged for the hotel. It seems I always pay too much for everything when I first arrive in a country.
I stayed for one night in the Maarifa then cleared out to the Marmosa Hotel, which was clean and only ten dollars a night, but not before being propositioned at another hotel by an over-eager Moroccan who grabbed my ass and said 'Sex? Spend night together?' No thanks. I guessed it was the off-season for young British tourists.
In my hotel room I opened the window and gazed to the cafe out across the alley. A dozen men sat in plastic chairs and smoked shisha from colorful hookahs while watching a television show that was about 50 decibels too loud. I sighed and closed the window again. Little did I know what a helluva ride Morocco would be.