The bus trip to Tarifa was two and a half hours of gloomy rain, punctuated by windmills and the occasional sighting of a giant silhouette of a bull.
The mile-long walk from the bus stop to the old center of Tarifa was lined with a lot of beach/surfer shops and hangouts that had that beach-town-in-January look about them. Things looked pretty dead on this particular windy, rainy Friday. We entered the old part of the town through a Moorish-looking gate on the town wall that featured this charming gentleman:
After we had settled in to our hotel and rested up a bit the rain decided to let up so we decided to take a walk around the town before heading to the seafood place that the hippy-ish woman at the front desk recommended for us. We made our way to the edge of the sea and from the old fortifications we were amazed to see the lights of a power plant in Africa twinkling at us across the water--looking not much farther away than Maryland is from Virginia south of Alexandria.
Continuing to wander around the small town we stumbled across the best belen display we saw on the entire trip. There was a small sign pointing us into what looked like a vacant building. We poked our heads in diffidently, mindful of the false belen experience in Seville. But we were eagerly beckoned to enter and they pointed out that we should go into an adjacent room. There we saw, not just a simple manger scene, but in fact an entire series of elaborate dioramas depicting Bethlehem and the Christmas story. In fact it turned out that we were just in the first of three separate rooms filled with such displays.
We finally arrived at the restaurant (which was in fact just around the corner form the hotel). We were determined to get some nice wholesome salads to balance out all of the rich and heavy foods we had been eating. Perhaps we were a bit too enthusiastic while ordering them because we were presented with two plates --platters really-- mounded up with what had to have been half a head of iceberg lettuce a piece, along with some carrots and tomatoes thrown in for color. I gave up on mine pretty quickly, but S. was determined to make a serious dent in hers. But it was taking such a long time that she was worried that the waiter would call it all off and take the plates away, especially since I had put my fork down. As a result I agreed to pretend to be enthusiastically be digging into my salad whenever the waiter came our way. The ruse lasted for a while, but eventually our main course came out and that was the end of it even though we still had enough lettuce left on our plates to fuel a small army of vegans. But it was all for the best because we needed ample room in our bellies to accommodate the delicious paella-like fish and rice dish we got.
First thing the next day we caught our ferry to Tangier. The boat was pretty large and seemed pretty nice. Handily they had a Morrocan customs official right on board to stamp your passports on the way over. The staff of the boat however seemed to have no idea what they were doing. Was this there first time doing this or what? About halfway across they realized that they forgot to check people's tickets as they were getting on the boat. So the entire staff fanned out and tried to catch everybody on the boat--maybe a couple hundred people. They eventually abandoned that and instead came up with the idea of checking everyone as they got off the boat.
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