As I mentioned before, Spain was the place that our friends and family were really looking forward for us to go to. Natalie and I were so excited as well, however, the journey to Spain was a bit rockier than anticipated.
Tangier to Algeciras
We had planned to take the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar, from Tangier, Morocco to Algeciras, Spain. We had a host lined up already for Malaga but I really wanted to try and make it to Ronda so that we could spend the day there since Ronda is brimming with Spanish history. A lot has happened there from the Islamic domination to the Spanish Inquisition, and it even became a hub of war during the Napoleonic invasion. Despite all this push and pull amongst the different factions of people, Ronda has maintained its beauty which is what originally fueled my desire to go.
In order to be able to both visit Ronda and catch the last bus to Malaga we needed to take the first ferry out, so we woke up at 5am and took a two-hour taxi from Chefchaouen to Tangier in hopes of making the 8am ferry. I didn’t even think about customs and how long it might take to get stamped out of the Country so we rushed through the terminal, half asleep, to make sure we made it on the ferry. You can imagine how disappointed I was when we had given all this extra time and even rushed ourselves only for it to leave an hour late at 9 am. This was just the beginning of a series of unpleasant experiences during our ferry ride.
An unexpected experience
We were so tired, drifting off to sleep when three older looking, men came by and started asking us personal questions about us and our trip. Where were we from? Where were we going and staying? What do we do? How old were we? Did we have boyfriends? They kept trying to convince us to go with them, first just for some coffee and then to Romania. Red flags were going off in my mind. Natalie and I deal with situations like these very differently. When I’m faced with any experience that makes me feel super uncomfortable, I get really quiet for two reasons.
One, I’m trying to stay calm, not panic, and also make sure I don’t appear scared. Two, I’m thinking of an exit strategy; how are we going to get out of this with the least amount of loss? Will we need to ditch our bags and run? What if they grab one of us? Natalie, on the other hand, was worrying more about angering them and in turn, she was trying to distract them by keeping them talking. Responding with vague information about us, but also keeping her friendly, “customer service” face on. We made a great team that way because with her keeping them engaged and me making sure we had all of our stuff so we could instantly get up and go, we were able to get out of a potentially horrifying experience unscathed. Trust your instincts when you are travelling and never give too much information about where you are going or staying.
As soon as the ferry reached Algeciras, we found the first Moroccan man that we could find and stuck by him for the rest of our journey off the ferry. We found that a bit ironic because of all the prejudged worries that our friends and family had about Morocco. His name was Hamsa, he was a Moroccan-born Canadian, and we had seen him earlier when we were initially boarding the ferry. For some reason, we knew that if we stuck with him, we would be safe. Luckily, we were right and we even ended up being on the same bus as him to Malaga.
Yes, Malaga, not Ronda. It was my fault. I didn’t realize that there was a time difference between Morocco and Spain, which meant that despite waking up at 5 in the morning and the ferry being late, we missed the bus to Ronda and weren’t able to go. Once we got to Malaga and checked into our hosts’ home, the travel depression set in. I’ve felt it multiple times when going home after a vacation. You just get sad to be back to your normal life and no longer have the freedoms you did when you were abroad. I did not expect to get it while still travelling but we really missed Morocco. It was so crazy because we were in this beautiful country, and all we could think about was how to get back to Morocco. Seriously, we almost changed our whole trip to go back and spend the rest of our time there. Malaga, however, became my favourite destination in Spain.
We stayed in the Old Town of Malaga and honestly didn’t do anything too exciting. We relaxed a lot since we needed to recharge from our adventures in Morocco and we knew we had some big plans for the rest of Spain.
We went to the Alcazaba which is a Moorish fortified citadel; there are still nine Alcazaba that you can visit in Spain that all reflect the same Moorish architecture of the Taifa period. The site that we visited in Malaga is the best-preserved Alcazaba in Spain. My favourite part was the Roman-era theatre ruins that are preserved just outside the walls because they are actually older than the Alcazaba itself, dating back to the 1st century.
We spent the rest of our time just wandering the cobblestone streets of the Old Town until we needed to catch our train to Granada.