The African and European continents were standing almost as if they were silent giants in the Strait of Gilbraltar. As I traveled by ferry, Spain held a soft but constant presence from the horizon, while Africa became more distinctive and bold by its close proximity.
Despite the early hours, my day had already been a long one. It took almost 5 hours to arrive
at Tarifa, Spain where I boarded my ferry. I’ve never minded long road trips, but it didn’t hurt to start my day in typical Spanish fashion: with a simple breakfast of toast and coffee (café con leche).
As for the ferry ride, I still felt disbelief that I could see two continents so close together. It’s an unusual but impressive scene, not one that I had imagined when I woke up that morning. The Strait of Gilbraltar connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and there are only 7.7 nautical miles that separate Africa and Europe from its narrowest point. It also happens to be a popular whale watching location.
Even though it wasn’t the season to see whales, Morocco was just as welcome of a view. The country shows striking similarities to its neighboring continent, since it has a Mediterranean climate like southern Spain. Is sandy surface, scattered shrubs and white-washed houses were familiar sights.
Yet despite its proximity to Europe, Morocco has a distinctive culture and dramatic contrasts in its landscape. Its mountains are similar to the Sierra Nevadas, although Morocco’s mountains lack the ski resorts.
I had received a lot of advice before stepping foot in Tangier, Morocco. Some of the advice came from my advisers: Don’t drink any tap water or eat any food washed in the water. Other advice came in the form of signs: Don’t treat monkeys as pets. Or take pictures of them. We’re warning you. Seriously though, don’t get near those monkeys.
So, with some solid advice and a list of useful phrases in Arabic, I disembarked and entered Tangier. It would be an experience that would change my perspective of the world.