I visited Morocco when I was with my brother, his family and their friends. I was excited to travel with these amazing girls, who of course were young and had the excitement matched with energy to explore the sites. I, unfortunately don’t posess that same zest, but it quickly worked out. We arrived via ferry from Terifa, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. The cost for the ferry was around $40 USD. It was about an hour long ferry ride. On the ferry, they had food, drinks, and some shops.
When we arrived in Tangier, the street vendors will be awaiting your arrival. The local vendors started approaching us and showing their locally made bracelets and providing flyers for tours in the area. FYI, usually as you enter any touristy locations, prices will be higher than if you purchase outside of those areas in a lesser populated area. You are able to haggle pricing. It is much cheaper in Morocco, than Spain. Their currency is the Dirham/DH. The exhange rate is .11 cent USD to their $1 (DH).
For example, I could fill up my rental car for $4.00 USD, which was around $35 (DH).
Currency Exchange, Don't Lose Money
We found our way to the currency exchange station, which is a must when you are traveling to another country. Some knowledge of exchange rates is helpful. I download an APP for exhange rates to quickly access and use. It is easier especially when you first enter a country and get confused or nervous about what you are paying. You can easily overpay someone if you are not careful. You could lose a percentage of value in your currency.
An example: at the current exchange rate of the US Dollars (USD), instead of Euros (€). As you lose money on the Euro exchange rate instead of exchanging (USD) to Dirham (DH). Granted, it’s a small amount, and most of us didn’t have a lot of Euros to exchange, even though we had just left Spain, but if you exchange Euros into Dirham, you lose a specific percentage vs. USD to DHS. It all adds up if you should exchange a lot of currency in that way. You should always have enough of that country's currency when you are planning on traveling out of the city, as you may be unable to find currency exchange out of those areas.
Don't Stand Out In Countries
Something I must mention is when you visit a new country, and especially traveling solo, research the areas you are traveling to. You do not want to draw attention to yourself. In countries I vist, I "dress down". You can be a victim really quickly if you do not. In Morocco, they are very conservative and be respectful of that countries beliefs. If your not careful, you will invite problems if you show too much skin. So always research in order to fully enjoy your visit and not to offend people who are locals. Believe it or not, this is a huge
safety concern in most countries.
Find Out in Advance About Your Cell Service Availability and Costs
When we hit the road, we discovered a major issue. The street signs, if there were any at all were written in Arabic. It was fine if we were using the GPS as you just turn when it said to. Most of our cell service providers wanted to charge us 10 dollars a day in roaming fees. Fortunately, one of our phones was able to connect free of charge. We were now able to use the built in GPS, to find our way. The problem was, it was just one of us, in one car out of two cars. This was not a problem at all to the lead car with the GPS. Yet was highly worrisome to the car that was without. If we lost one another, there was no plan, no way to contact, and no destination to meet up preplanned. In a city as busy as this one, losing each other in traffic or by taking a wrong turn, would have been very problematic. Thankfully, we were able to navigate this very different place, and stay in a group.
Expect Some Hiccups
A lot of vehicles do not have modern conveniences such as air conditioning, or automatic transmissions. When we received the vehicles, they were manual transmission, my brother and I were the only people in our group who knew how to drive a manual. In North America, we call this, a “stick shift” and I have not driven one in a few decades, but it was like riding a bicycle, it all comes back to you. My first car was a stick shift and I adapted to it like it was yesterday.
In this crazy big city full of vehicles and pedestrians, there were apparently no rules or laws to follow. People mid-street as well as curbside would walk right in front of you without hesitation. It was a haven of constant watching cars and people. Vehicles didn’t follow traffic laws like many other countries, but I was accustomed to in the US. There were no stopping at intersections, no turn signals used, drivers pushing themselves within inches of hitting your car to merge, and horns constantly blowing. In “roundabouts” there was room enough for 5-6 lanes of traffic. But it’s a circle! It was a pure mess. There was a never ending noise pollution that filled the hot steamy air. We were surrounded by an endless sea of vehicles filled with emotions that loved to voice their thoughts. It was no love language.
From the short time I was in this city, I discovered the definition of what the horn means:
Short horns were used in a nice way to get your attention.
Two short horns, "I guess you didn’t hear my first short horn".
A longer horn was a bit more aggressive approach. It was the stage before the long solid hold on the horn. If you didn’t act upon the first two previously mentioned, it would quickly escalated to this verbiage. You must take action or they will slash you with the next and last hornage.
The long horn that would wear out even the most tolerable ear, was clear and utter abuse of sound wave space.
The long horn and short horns after. This was the same as the long horn, but if horn sounds could be curse words, this would definitely be explicit!
Keep in mind too, you are surrounded by a huge amount of cars. You may get blasted with numerous horns and it's your job to decifer where it was coming from. New York City had nothing on Tangier!
Know the Holidays
The dates we were in Morocco were during Ramadan. What is Ramadan? The spiritual rewards for fasting are multiplied during Ramadan. Consequently, Muslims not only abstain from consuming food and drink, but also from tobacco products, sexual intercourse, and sinful behavior, instead engaging in prayer, reciting the Quran, performing charitable actions, and strengthening the purity and consciousness to God.
This is a time when those who are Muslim religion do not consume alcohol. Alcohol is considered haram (prohibited or sinful), and is not to be touched. This also includes rubbing alcohol as well. People who are foreign can purchase alcohol if it’s available. As long as they provide a passport and their name is registered in a book. A record must be recorded of the amount of alcohol you are purchasing, which we didn't realize. We did not partake in drinking and it was a difficult task for some of us vacationers. However the country offers so much to occupy your brain. Which is like a natural high and you crave more of its beauty, which lessens any desire for alcohol.
One of the odd, yet unexpected pleasure is when you visit chain fast food restaurants in other countries. Amazingly for McDonald's, even though it was started in the US, in other countries it is worth a visit. In Spain, Italy and Morocco as well as other areas you will find McDonald's is so much nicer. It is almost like a fancy restaurant, which I know sounds strange to say. They had the fancy kiosks to order your food. One the walk in while in Tangier, there was a gourmet coffees and pastries. They were amazing to see.
Read about the other places we ventured in Morocco.