It was bound to happen one of these days. The worst travel day ever, which in hindsight truly wasn't that bad, but in the moment it certainly felt like it.
We should have known better than to book a 6:45 am train out of Granada, but we had a long travel day ahead of us including a connecting bus, a taxi ride to the port and the ferry across to Morocco. An early start helped give us more options for the many ways the day could go. We also HAD to be in Fes by Monday evening because we were meeting Karen and Ron there. (YAY!)
We had really become accustomed to the late night mentality of the Argentines and the Spaniards. Let me rephrase that...VERY accustomed to the VERY late nights. We were now on a regular schedule of eating at 10 pm, and finally going to bed around 3 am. And yes, this is very normal.
So, of course, we both have trouble falling asleep because we went to bed so early and by the time I fall asleep, it's nearing 4 am. As soon as I woke up with a start, saw the sun streaming through our window, I knew we had missed our train. Turns out we had missed it by nearly 2 hours.
A quick scramble out of bed and Brian began Google searching later trains and the bus schedule, while I finished packing up our things. Mad at ourselves for wasting money, we saw that a bus left from the station at 9:30, was more expensive than the previous train, but would get us to our connecting city only an hour later than planned. Grumbling, we hit the door and grabbed a taxi and arrived just in time to buy tickets and make the bus.
When we arrived, we expected to have just 15 minutes to buy another bus ticket to get us to Algercias, where the ferry crosses directly to Tangier. But the schedule on the window showed the next bus not leaving for 4 hours, guaranteeing a missed ferry. We quickly realized we had looked at the online weekday schedule, not Sunday's schedule.
We searched for the public bus schedule, but couldn't make reason of how many stops it would take or even where to pick it up. Confused, we walked back to the window to purchase the later tickets, where the man asked which time we wanted and he promptly handed over tickets that left at 3 pm. YES! We are back in the game! 5 pm ferry is within sight again!
With a little breathing room, we grabbed a snack to get us through the rest of the travel time and caught our bus out. Upon arrival in Algercias, the bus dumped us off on the very outskirts of town and our arrival coincided perfectly with siesta. Not a cab to be seen for our entire walk from the bus "station" to the water while it started to rain and the wind became intense. So intense, that I would occasionally be moved by the wind catching my backpack.
We ended up missing the entrance to the ferry station because it looks more like the car entrance only and walked all the way around the building until we arrived at a fence blocking any entrance at all. Back around to the car entrance and then the skies really opened up.
There are actually two companies that run ferries, not one like all the research says and they alternate leaving times. We purchased our tickets to leave in 45 minutes, and we spent the majority of that time watching as the water churned, the wind whipped and the rain came down in sheets. This wasn't going to be a great channel crossing.
Boarding runs 40 minutes late and we realized why as soon as we made the run from the terminal to the ferry in the pouring rain, dodging the cars they were loading from the same side as the people. They do customs on board the ferry. One man was stamping all 300 people into Morocco during a "40-minute" crossing. The reason for the delay, on top of the weather, is that when the boat docks, there are still people needing to be stamped in.
I immediately got in line before the boat even pulled away and spent the majority of the crossing hanging on for dear life with my fellow waiters as we tried to maintain some semblance of a line. We rocked, we swayed, I got up to the front and Brian joined me, and then the guy in front of us threw up. (Thankfully, Brian and I both handle motion sickness fairly well and did not join the masses in the sickness.)
Weary and staring at the horizon to maintain our iron stomachs, we finally docked with a passport stamp and were so thankful to be on solid ground.
Then, Tangier hit. Stepping off the boat becomes a game of tout dodging. No, we don't need a taxi. No, we don't want to eat in your family's restaurant. No, we don't need a tour guide. Yes, we know where we are going.
I had intentionally worn a skirt to the ground and had long sleeves on, but the walk to the hotel was brutally uncomfortable as men stared at me and I realized how few women I actually saw. I fell behind Brian quietly and was thankful to get to our hotel.
We decided to walk to the medina just to say that we had been there and were immediately attached to a friendly local who just wanted to "chat." Yeah, right. Uncomfortably knowing we were about to be taken for a ride, he refused to leave us and we followed him as he wove us deeper and deeper into the medina until we had no choice but to let him finish the crazy tour which included such astounding Tangier highlights as "there are a lot of cats in the medina" and "this is a barber shop" and "my friend has a very clean restaurant." Gee, thanks.
Pissed off, Brian finally just shouted enough and handed the guy a few Euro to get him to go away, but of course, that wasn't enough. 2 more dollars and we walked away while he asked for more money. "Please my friend, it was a good tour..." Like little troublemaker boys who over use "Ma'am" so are the men of Morocco in their use of "my friend."
Good lesson learned for us, but it put the final dagger in the worst day ever.
We walked quickly back to the hotel and ate dinner there, tired and frustrated and hoping this bad taste of Morocco wouldn't last into Fes.
When we re-read the events of the day, we are actually fairly proud of ourselves. Although it was frustrating, we still managed to keep our composure with one another and got to our destination on the day we needed. We really felt like seasoned travelers, no longer letting small issues become big ones and figuring things out as we go.