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casabarata

The last days in Morocco, the Hercules cave, Casabarata and a Hammam

Daytrip out of Tangier, Morocco

We got up in the morning and prepared for the day which involved going to a cave near the coast that apparently Hercules had slept in, the big market in Tangier called the casabarata where you “could get anything you wanted” and finally the local hammam (Moroccan bathhouse).¬†Originally we had planned to go to Chefschaouen today but seeing as we got up too late we reasoned that a 2h drive each way would be too much.

The Hercules cave and a note about the croissant scale

We first had another lovely breakfast at the hostel with pancakes and freshly pressed orange juice, took a shower and headed out into the Medina. Some of the peddlers from the previous days recognized us and went “hey, danemaark!” but otherwise mostly left us alone. We then proceeded to grab a taxi and the price was a cool 100 dirham (about 9EUR) for the 30 min drive to the cave. Of course when we got there he wanted 50 more dirham because he took “the scenic route”. Sure. Have your 50 dirham my friend ūüôā 50 dirham comes up to about 4,5EUR (1,5EUR for each of us). The cave wasn’t all that spectacular – it was a nice cave but to me it was way too artificial. Lots of lights and paved ground – I didn’t really get the feeling of being where Hercules had slept. Atleast it was free.

It's a straight drop down!
The cave wasn’t spectacular but the outside view was

The croissant scale

While on the topic of money we tried to get an idea of how much we were being ripped off. 50 MAD (Morrocan dirham) isn’t much to us but it is to a local. We saw vastly varying prices for things we would consider of equal value. One of the first things we bought was a croissant and it was only 2MAD. Using that as future reference we created something called the croissant scale. With the croissant scale in mind, the 50 extra MAD we gave him sums up to 25 croissants! We also created a tea scale which seemed to mostly correlate with the croissant scale¬†– 6-8 MAD¬†for a cup of tea is within reason. Of course sometimes we paid up towards 15 MAD for a tea which completely shattered the croissant scale!

Food ran to about 40 MAD for a meal and 25 MAD for shawarma styled fastfood. It seems croissants are cheap but since we got bread with everything we ordered (for free) I guess it’s just bakery goods (and tea) that come cheap.

Casabarata

As previously mentioned, Casabarata is a market in Tangier. The first thing we experienced was a local warning us to not show our money (which we did when we paid the taxi).The second was a bunch of dead chickens on the ground – except they weren’t dead which became apparent when one of them moved. Besides giving us a bit of a scare it also became obvious that animal welfare wasn’t a big thing here. These chickens were just lying on the ground, alive¬†and bound.¬†That’s one way to keep them fresh.

Live chickens
These chickens were alive

We walked around a bit more and found a nice little shop that sold Djellabas, a local type of clothes that the locals wear. It’s like a robe and instantly gives associations to Star Wars – either the Jedis or the sand scavengers(Jawas) combing Tatooine for droids. We each bought one which cleaned us out and with no money a market is less interesting so we soon headed home

Inside the Medina
On the rooftop of our hostel. I’m wearing a Djellaba, a type of robe the locals wear

Hammam – Moroccan style bathouse

I was traveling with two other friends and one of them, Nikolaj, was also the one i took the Trans Siberian Railroad with 1,5 years ago. We made it a thing to try the russian bathhouses (Banya) everywhere we went and why not continue that tradition in Morocco. Here they are called Hammams and are very different.

I’ve gone into detail¬†Here¬†but for now it suffices to say that I have never had such a soft skin and felt so clean as i did after this gem of an experience. Also, the fact that we¬†didn’t speak the local languages (arabic, french or even spanish)¬†didn’t make the experience any less exotic!

Getting bodyscrubbed using a special bodyscrub glove
Getting bodyscrubbed using a special bodyscrub glove

Conclusion on Morocco

This was the last evening in Morocco and the next morning we had decided to leave early to be able to make it to Madrid for new years eve.

All in all Africa has treated us well. The onslaught of peddlers that hit you when you first arrive can be very annoying to say the least but as you get settled in and have been there for a while you start to learn how to deal with them and you can start enjoying all the positive things that Tangier (and the rest of Africa) has to offer. As described to us by a local bartender, this is white Africa, and when you cross the Sahara you get into black Africa which is vastly different. Can’t wait to try that out someday!

A beautiful sunny day in Morocco
A beautiful sunny day in Morocco
The Djellaba was actually too warm!
All my bags are packed and we are ready to go. I’m wearing my Djellaba – mostly because it didn’t fit in my bag