Port of Entry: Tangier

Tangier is a gentle re-entry into Africa, and an introduction to the rhythms of Morocco during Ramadan. We check into a comfy budget guesthouse, and after an early afternoon nap, head out to explore our first medina (old town). Climbing up the hill from the waterfront, we find ourselves transiting through a (remarkably clean) food market full of the delicious smells of olives, herbs, and spices. We arrive up at the Grand Socco and enter the medina gates.

gates in the Medina

The small medina streets wind around and around, revealing beautiful mosaics and doorways, and occasionally tricking us into a dead end. We climb the streets up to the kasbah (fortified citadel), and exit through a door to find our last faint glimpse of Europe across the Strait of Gibraltar. On the other side of the medina, there is another viewpoint over Tangier’s busy port.

the busy port of Tangier

decorative fountain in the kasbah

We return to our guesthouse to wait for sunset and to eat and drink in private. At approximately 7:30pm, the call to prayer sounds, signalling the end of the day’s Ramadan. We head back out into the streets, expecting to find Tangier lively with people breaking the fast. Instead, the city is dead quiet.

We find a small place for dinner and sample our first harira, the Moroccan soup typically drunk for the ftour –the meal to break the fast (sometimes called “petit dejeuner”) – accompanied by sweet pastries and dates. Afterwards, we climb back to the medina through the quiet streets. Around 10pm that evening, we are surprised to see shopkeepers reopening their shops. The medina grows more and more lively, the cafés full of people drinking tea and the streets busy with children playing. At midnight, when we return to our guesthouse, Tangier city is still in full swing.

Tangier coming alive at night during Ramadan