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A time in Tanja

Some ways down the street, a man was walking along with a slight limp. He held a stick to help steady himself. I stepped out on the sidewalk and headed in the direction I wanted to go, it was toward him. As he drew near I saw his djellaba was old and a bit worn, he was poor and quite old, maybe in his seventies or older. He looked at me and held out his hand. I had several dirham in my pocket and gave it to him, then put my hand over my heart as did he in thanks. We continued on our ways.

The weather in Pamplona was cold in winter and I took a long look at my finances before deciding to head to Tanja, Maroc (Tangier, Morocco) for a couple of months because it is warmer there. The first time I went to Tanja was 50 years ago and even wrote up the trip on my old blog. Was I in for a big surprise this time.
This entrance to the kasbah needed to be rebuilt a few years ago, the old one was falling apart and they had to close it until done.

The Socco Chico in the Kasbah used to have a number of small cafes, now there are just two.

Fifty years is a long time and a lot of you reading this probably weren't even alive then. Everywhere we go things change, especially over the years. I enjoy and like old towns, they have more character and the history is in front of your face. The Kasbah in Tanja was like that back then, but now it has been modernized a little and lost some of its charm. Back in 1972 the population was around 185,000 now it's over two million. Whole entire areas have been built and what was once a small city is now huge.
This is all new, it did not exist 50 years ago only the beach.

Some things have not changed, crossing the road is still taking your life into your own hands. They have pedestrian crossings, but it is different than a lot of places where the cars stop so you can step out. Here you have to step out to stop the cars and the things take off within inches of you passing—so don't change your mind and try going back! Some places street and sidewalk are kind of combined. Curbs on the street are quite deep, some as much as 1 foot. Sidewalks are primarily pretend cobblestone (made of concrete) and uneven so if you are not used to that be careful, some are extremely smooth and very slippery when wet. Years ago I loved Eric's fantastic egg burgers. Well, they are still here with a new branch not far from where I'm staying, so I enjoyed some while there. Back then it was 3 Dirham, today it is 25.
50 years ago this was named Hope House and belonged to the old English Hospital. It has been overhauled as part of a Moroccan hospital now, but still the original building underneath.

For the most the people are fine and I found them quite friendly. I hadn't been there for more than a week before local men began greeting me as I would be heading along the street near where I was staying. It is a residential area some miles from the center as well as full of visitors in summer. January it can get cold in the night and the breeze from the Straits of Gibralter don't help. Daytime it mostly has been in the high 60's and low 70's, except when it rained. It is very noisy though, a lot of traffic with it's accompanying pollution.

One main purpose for myself is to do some writing. I've almost finished one book, an autobiography and begun a second which is fiction. The autobiography is a result of some folk suggesting I write one as a result of a series of posts on my old blog. One of them was entitled, 'Transconning the USA in 1968'. So a lot of my time here will be spent on that side of things. I want to get out and hopefully photograph some wildlife, if I can find any, as well as visit one or two other places.

Souk El Arbaa

Took a short trip to Souk El Arbaa for a day. It's 2 hours south of Tanja by train and not all that large. First class fare here is low, 75 Dirham, and the first thing I did was stop and do my usual sense of the town. It's very relaxing, quiet and poor. I found a kind of hotel for 80 dirham a night, dire is a kind word for the place.
Only had my smartphone with me and it takes lousy fotos indoors.

I haven't seen one of these for many decades back in France and some parts of Spain. There was no hot water, no shower and after booking in I saw a much better hotel across the street, my mind was made up, one night and I'm gone. The town was warmer and I found the people friendly, not trying to sell me something like in Tanja. I had wanted to go somewhere quieter to write my book, but now probably ride it out here in Tanja until March, when I fly to London.

Time changes all things.
Jan 19, 2024

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