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2003-07-15

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The next day we went to Tetouan [1] by taxi, looked at the old town, and then we continued by bus to Chefchaouen.

But first, we had to get out of Ceuta. We took the ordinary bus to the border and got out. To the left, the sea. To the right, dusty hills with control posts, two or three policemen watching – and, most astonishingly, dozens of hooded people, old women, young men, carrying bags or empty handed, hurrying, not looking left nor right. Bernd explains how the police will chase them away once in a while, but in general these smugglers are tolerated; the police is bribed. image: %s

Between the hills and the sea lies the customs. Dozens, no hundreds of people crowding. There are portals where people are forced into line by a long tunnel-like cage. People looking like foreigners like us are waved in a different direction and we mostly walk where the cars drive. The cages left and right, with people coming and going, must mostly just waiting for the line to advance, some of them waiting even when the line does advance – trapped in the no-man's land between Spain and Morocco… It stretches for 100m, 200m. The line seems endless. Watching the lines, we walked… Somewhere in the no-man's land we had to show our passports, fill out some paper, but it was a breeze. Bernd said that previously, he'd spend three quarters of an hour here waiting, elbowing and sweating before getting accross the border. The tourists are missing because of the Casablanca bombing. More power to us, it seems. image: %s

Behind the border, there is a big parking lot full of white Mercedes-Benz taxis… The big ones, with 6 passengers each. As we approach one of them, a French backpacker joins us. We pay 20 Dirham each (later we find that the correct price would have been 12 Dirham each). The French guy agrees and sits in front.

The taxi driver is a crazy lunatic. He roars at max speed and overtakes everything. Even when he can't see ahead due to a curve. Or when he can see the oncoming trucks but feels that he will be able to squeeze back in before crashing into one. And even when the line on our side is so packed that some of them is going to have to let us in in order to save us from crashing into buses, cars, or trucks. I hissed. We mumbled. The French guy nervously tried to pull his legs up once or twice. The driver told us not to be affraid.

When we arrived, we paid, and left. The French guy also tried to pay his 20 Dirham, but the driver said that he sat in front, therefore taking up the space of two passenger, and furthermore he had agreed to pay 50 Dirham, and a loud discussion starts, and in the end the driver just steals a 50 Dirham bill out of the French guy's wallet and leaves. image: %s

Claudia thinks that the only good reaction in this case would have been even more shouting: Attracting the locals, making it a shame for the driver to be involved in all this. The French guy, being timid, was overwhelmed by the driver's aggressive shouting and too stunned by the audacity of the theft…

We entered Tetouan [2]. Immediately we were immersed in the grime, the shouting, the bustling. We followed Bernd towards the old town, the medina. It starts behind the huge square in front of the royal palace. Most of the square in front of the palace is fenced of. Only a strip as narrow as a street is left for the crowd. And what a crowd it is. Merchants, housewives, kids, people sitting in front of tea rooms. We continue onwards, into the gold souk, to the right, vegetables, tailors selling traditional clothing (djilaba), old berber women selling some garlic, mint, it just goes on and on…

image: %s image: %s image: %s Royal Palace Small Square Tannery Tea Rooms

Lunch at a tourist trap, Americans searching for Jesus, but the restaurant can also be used for traditional marriages, a band of berbers, when the Americans leave, Bernd asks to play the violin, Claudia dances… (to be continued)

Bernd plays Claudia dances

We arrive in Chefchaouen… (to be continued)

Dinner

(to be continued)

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