While Mare’s stomach heals for one more day in Tarifa, I walk the streets. The fresh sea breeze delights me and I wonder why I feel so good. Quickly, I realize that my favorite experience in Morocco, camel-camping in the desert, and staying at the Merzouga Guest house, derives its pleasure from the warmth, love, and genuine friendliness that the Berber culture offer us in that area of the country. Then, I remember that…even there, in the convivial atmosphere, the women are invisible.
Driving the roads around the country, I recall images of men crowding the streets of small towns. I watch a man kick a small child to the ground while the woman (rare sight) continues walking, her head covered. The child, who is no more than three or four-years old, wails and tries to catch up to her. She does not turn around. She is not allowed. Further down the road, she beats a mule with a stick, for no apparent reason.
I sit in a café over a drink and realize that my favorite experience in Morocco also saddens me…because it comes from only a handful of men, and not the invisible women. In my “western-tainted” view, Moroccan culture misses out on not only the love and tenderness of a woman, but the talent and sparkle that she would add to the general good. Imagine how the culture could blossom even more, if only women were free. This is why I feel better in Spain. Here I can see a woman smile.
After two days in Tarifa, Mare feels well enough to hop a bus. Imagine traveling the southern coast of Spain from Tarifa to the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, and then needing to show your passport to enter an English Colony. Best known for its big rock, we learn that John Lennon and Yoko Ono married here in Gibraltar. They did not stay for long, leaving after just one song.
After we hop off the bus and stroll through immigration to the city of Gibraltar. British accents abound, while pubs line the streets and lure us with offers of Shepherd Pie and Fish and Chips. Different Ales rule day and night. Shoppers pay typical, inflated tourist prices for goods of all sorts in this bustling destination town.
Mare cannot finish her steak and kidney pie, as her stomach still mends from a bout of food poisoning. So we take a mellow evening, during a rainy downpour. The rain in Spain falls not only on the plain. The Brits complain about the cold, with a sense of humor.
In the morning, we take a tour of the rock. Alex, our guide, drives us up the Rock of Gibraltar for views of Morocco, and Spain’s southern coast. We duck through caves that open into small concert halls. Rule of this rock has changed hands numerous times throughout history, but it still remains a rock. We hang with the Barbary apes. Actually, they hang on us.
After we walk the man-mined tunnels that the British constructed in the 1700’s as military strategy, we get close to the top. The very peak is off limits, as Alex, our guide, explains to us that apes will jump onto pedestrians and throw them off balance. Also, the British military controls it.
We have no need to see the machined-tunnels the British constructed during WWII, so Alex drives us to the airport. We rent a car, our apartment on wheels, and the driving proves so much easier in Spain than Morocco. Everything is much easier.
We drive to Granada, and it’s too cold to tour the Alhambra, so we decide to move on up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Home of Spain’s highest peak, we want to visit Travelez, Spain’s highest village.