"A Trip to Tangiers" by Mallory Mrozinski
This past weekend, my friends and I took a trip to my new favorite city-I’ve-never-lived-in: Tangiers! Lots of allure came from its history, as Tangiers has a long history of being debaucherous and vibrant. Tangiers’ stint as an international zone also caused an almost-diaspora-like community of counterculture enthusiasts: cool people have been hanging out here for decades. Henri Matisse and Eugene Delacroix found inspiration in the beautiful scenery and created beautiful paintings based on this city near the sea. Literary giants such as Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg, and Tennessee Williams and spent years loitering its many cafés and bars. The Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison, and even Yves Saint Laurent spent considerable amounts of time enjoying Tangiers - I figured it might be worth a try.
As it turns out, all of these famous expatriates had the right idea. After a four-hour train ride through the Moroccan countryside, my group arrived at our rented house in the Kasbah. In this ancient neighborhood sat our house with the most beautiful view off the rooftop terrace. In one panoramic vista, I could see old Tangier, La Ville Nouvelle, the beach, a wind farm in the mountains, the ocean, and even Spain!
There was much to do in the city: famed restaurants, hotels, and cafés where expatriates passed the time. However, my friends and I decided to take the road less traveled (maybe the ghost of beat poetry got the best of us). Meandering through the kasbah, we met a taxi driver named Mustapha who turned out to be the hero of our weekend. For 200dh, he promised to take us all around Tangiers and back again. This seemed like the best way to kill two hours while being productive. We piled in his white grand taxi and he first took us through the posh neighborhood where the ambassadors and diplomats all reside. He pointed out the American, Spanish, and Saudi residences with all the appropriate grandeur. Our first stop was Parc Perdicaris, where the first American dignitary bought land and settled.
Next stop, Cap Spartel! Mustapha pulled over on the side of a windy mountain road and instructed us all to get out (in Darija and then in French, and then in hurried hand signals). We rush across the road to the incredible view - this jetty/rock formation delineates the Mediterranean from the Atlantic! I am amazed at how much information Mustapha has to share with us, relieved that we didn’t get ripped off, and thankful for Moroccan hospitality.
Our final destination was les Grottes d’Hercule - the physical setting of the myths of Hercules! As the story goes, the opening of this cave was shaped by Hercules himself, pushing apart the African and European continents with his bare hands. Pretty impressive, if you ask me! Another fun fact: it’s in the shape of Africa, backwards.
We saw camels! Donkeys! Huge waves and the clearest blue water! This informal travel agent gave us the most charming tour and provided us with the most impromptu and serendipitous adventure, along with an informative journey through his home city. The weekend comprised of many rooftop meals, Andalusian sunlight, and trying to figure out the correct spelling of “Tangiers” (this is the official English spelling) could not have gone better - all thanks to Mustapha! Perhaps this is the free and unstructured spirit of the beat movement that is all around Tangiers.