(Monday) By the time you read this we will have recovered from one of those days. Let’s see, where did it all begin? How about with a night spent listening to recycling trucks collecting from the same site opposite our hotel. So not much sleep. The next morning we take the bus to Algeciras. Can’t take the terrain because they are redoing the train tracks. It’s a nearly three hour bus ride from Malaga to Algerciras stopping at five horrible costa del sol resort towns along the way. We are late for the ferry because the bus driver had to have something to eat before starting out. Now the quickest way to Tangier is to take another bus to the fast ferry. But ferry ticket but need to take further bus to Tarif to catch fast ferry. This boat positively wallows across the straight; Eleanor barely holds on to her lunch and stoically stares straight ahead at a wall for most of the trip to avoid looking at the swells.
Now coming off the ferry we are immediately accosted by a pair of motley red caps except they don’t have red caps. I have been practicing my Arabic “no!” but they are pretty persistent and by the time we arrive at the base of a 45 degree ramp they have us beat and basically just take the suitcases from us. They take us to the taxi stand and are not too happy with the tip I give them but take it anyway. Now we need five taxi drivers to figure out where the old Tangir hotel is. This is where our friend Sandy has arranged for us to pick up a rental car from a friend of a friend. We get there and I do my first haggling over the price of the cab ride. The old hotel Tangier was a hotel but is now given over to businesses and residences. It’s in a pretty authentic part of town. Now begins the trauma of renting a car. We meet our contact or at least his brother and he shows mw this tiny little car with 12” wheels, no trunk and stained seats. I know this isn’t goin to work and break the news to Achmed. But he has a friend who can rent us this other slightly bigger car so we have a coffee until the friend shows up and all is looking good again. Upstairs for the paper work and then we discover that they need 400E deposit plus the rental fee of 4500D all in cash as they don’t take Visa. This is getting alarming. We are nervous and call Sandy to find out if this is normal. She doesn’t know, she’s never rented a car in Morocco before! She’s the one who set this whole thing up! Anyway, rather than try to find a new rental on our own knowing that it might be the same issue and as the actual rate is good we go with it. Now we just have to find our way to the highway. No problem, our car guy hopes in another car with two friends and leads the way. Just as well; we would still be driving around Tangier otherwise. He makes one stop at a friend’s garage to have a faulty headlight fixed and then delivers us to the highway. At this point I need to say that every Moroccan we have dealt with so far, other than the two red caps, has been as friendly and helpful as you could wish for.
Now we face a 3 hour drive to Rabat. The road is great but I am tired and so we stop for a coffee along the way. Oh no, It’s the dreaded Michel D’ro, but it sparks me up enough to keep driving. The final crisis of the day occurs when we fail to comprehend our directions and end up driving through Rabat where as we should stayed on the highway and turned off just after Rabat. Finally we stop at a gas station and I head in to a local bar for some help. I soon have four or five locals giving it their best shot but to no avail. However, we have managed to stop at a place Sandy recognizes so that when I call her she is able to come and retrieve us. Not only that but she has wine and has prepared food. Her apartment is great, right on the beach. The sound of waves will lull us to sleep.