We arrived late in Tangier, and after eventually finding a hotel, that looked more like a derelict house, we were advised to stay in our rooms, to ‘be locking of our doors’ and ‘not have worry of the danger people outside’. Because if anyone did break in, the hotel manager would beat them with a large wooden pole he kept behind his desk. I could see we were in for an interesting night.
After a fitful sleep- due to all the riotous noise outside our hotel window and the lack of any running water for showers or toilet trips- we thought it best to hit the road early and headed to Tangier rail station straight after sun-up. Unfortunately we were unfamiliar with the Islamic calendar, it transpired that the day we had chosen to travel was in fact the holiday celebrating the birth of the prophet Mohammed- the Islamic world’s equivalent to Christmas!
We soon realised this was not the smartest of moves in the world, a large crowd had already formed at the train station resulting in a race to get seats that would go down well at the Olympics after the layer of armed Moroccan soldiers parted to let people through. The 12 hour journey was spent travelling ‘cargo-style’ with Moroccan farmers and their produce and involved a change in the small dusty town of Sidi Cacem with people running across the tracks to get the train!