Mare has a black eye. Sitting in the “Bear Bar” in Tarifa, Spain, a fight breaks out, and she catches a random fist, elbow, who knows for sure, to her left eye. After the brouhaha, where I stood by, separated from Mare, I see her being tended to by several women. They place ice rags onto her eye. She remembers little. I am outraged. Through the window of the bar, I see one of the perpetrators of the fight standing on the road with his friends. I go outside.
“Who punched my wife?” I ask him.
“It was the other guy,” he says.
I grab him by his arm and bring him to the bar window. “Show him to me.”
“I don’t see him, he must of left.”
I go back inside and check on my love. She has quite a doozy of a black eye. Then, the bar manager tells me that the guy I talked with outside was the one who punched her.
I go outside again. “You punched my wife!” Then I snap out a left jab directly onto his jaw. “C’mon,” I shuffle backwards and get ready to fight.
He drops to one knee and holds up a hand. He won’t fight. So I turn to his group of friends in the street, “C’mon, let’s go!” I’m ready for revenge at this point and am lucky to not have gotten knifed or something.
A blonde, young man says, “We don’t fight. We’re peaceful.”
I go back inside, tend to my wife, and we walk back to the hotel, hoping that we’re not followed.
Mare’s eye is swollen and bruised. My revenge on the kid did not help her eye. I do not like reacting with violence, especially, with not enough, or poor information. I am ashamed to mimic an ex-president. I deserve the black eye, not Mare. But, this is the story, part of our travels, and somehow, I am bound to tell it. Obviously, I’m not writing for Travel & Leisure Magazine.
The fast ferry from Tarifa drops us onto the shore of Tangiers, Morocco. Almost faster than the ferry, a freelance guide starts showing us around, asking what we need. Our guide book gives mixed messages about hiring one of the hoards of persistent guides all over Morocco. However, Ahmed, (who tells us that everybody is named “Ahmed”) gains some of our trust by shooing away a taxi driver who wants five Euros to drive us to Avis Rental Cars. Ahmed says that we should only pay two Euros, and he hops into the taxi along with us.
We acquire a rental car, which needs gas. So Ahmed will ride with us, show us where to get gas, and then the way out of town. We are headed to Chefchaouen, a town that sits amidst the peaks of the Rif Mountains. Sometimes it’s called the “Blue City” because of its bright blue buildings.
“You cannot leave Tangiers without tasting the couscous,” Ahmed insists.
Okay, that sounds fair enough, besides we are hungry. In the front seat of the car, Ahmed talks nonstop. He’s about my age, (55) and is bald like me. He tells us about the good days of Tangiers, when “groovy” people visited like Jimi Hendrix and Beat Generation writers including Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.
“Now, Tangiers is different, not so good.”
Then he wants to take us to his house to sell us kif, (marijuana/hash). He explains that the substance is legal in Morocco for personal use, we know it is not. He says he sends hash to the United States, first by covering it in wax, smashing it into a mirror, then sending by DHL from Spain to his many friends in the United States. Hashish and marijuana are not mentioned in the Koran, he explains. Therefore, it’s not prohibited like alcohol.
“I can’t smoke hash and try to drive these crazy roads,” I say.
“Okay, I’ll sell you a small packet to take along,” he responds.
“No thanks, really…it would make my wife very nervous.”
He asks me what happened to her eye, and we both explain, sure that every onlooker thinks that I beat my wife.
We eat a late lunch with Ahmed in a fancy restaurant, complete with live music and a belly dancer. No doubt, the best couscous I have ever eaten, with a blend of saffron, light curry, other unknown spices, as well as chicken. The belly dancer vibrates to the live music, while we drink beers and eat meat pies that are part pastry. Yes, it is a truly great meal.
The tab shocks me. It totals 500DH, (about 80US) and our second lesson teaches that beer is hard to come by in Morocco, as well as very expensive. Ahmed explains that Muslims have to hide alcohol for the most part. He climbs into our car to lead us out of town, while the call to prayer blares from a minaret. “I live right below a minaret, and that thing wakes me up at 4:30 a.m. every morning. I roll a joint, eat breakfast, and go to work.”
Ahmed tries to talk us in to buying long robes with pointed hoods. “You wear these and will get respect, plus protection.” Mare and I imagine how stupid we would look. Finally, we have had enough of Ahmed.
“No robes, Ahmed, but please, just get us on the road to Chefchaouen.”
Before he gets out of our car he warns, “Be sure to not let anybody into your car.”
“Well, we let you in, and it already cost me too much money!” We all have a good laugh. “How much do you want for your services?” I pay him 20 Euros and we are glad to be rid of him. Perhaps we got hustled, but at least we got a great meal and are now headed the right direction out of town with a full tank of gas.