The Rock

This Page Tells You About Tangier By “PA L01IA ” TJ5TE left Gibraltar in the morning Y V and, as the Rock receded, its ruggedness became outlined against the grey sky. It looked steadfast, solid, impregnable —truly a grand sight. But we soon forgot the steadfastness of Gibraltar when our small boat hit some very choppy seas and a hailstorm burst upon us. The boat couldn’t makeup its mind whether to abe destroyer or a submarine the wind couldn’t makeup its mind which way to blow and my breakfast couldn’t inako up its mind which way togo. I soon helped my breakfast to decide, with the aid of two fingers tickling the back of my throat.1 My stomach re­peated the operation (without assist­ance) at frequent intervals afterwards and I longed for terra firma —the more firmer, the less terror. Let’s draw a veil ovor the agony. Suffice it to say that, after about three and a half hours, we steamed into the small harbour of Tangier, where shipping was conspicuous by its absence. Out of a Picture Book Lining the quayside was a variety of people who might have stepped out of a picture book. Predominating dress was along robe, alike nightshirt, which reached nearly to the ground sandals without any backs, or no shoes at all, was the style for foot­wear. Most heads were adorned with a fez, which is something like an inverted flower- f >ot with a tassel on it. Even when an English style suit was worn, the headgear was still a fez. Some were attired in along capo and cowl, such as monks wear, with a girdle around the waist. Many were poorly dressed and in rags. As soon as we set foot onshore, a dusky hand outreached to take my small attache case.“ Tt’s all right.” said the follow in good English.“ I am for to take you to the Customs. He took us not only to the Customs, but to the hotel, and for sheer persistency I ’ve never met his equal. A “Good Cheap Luncli” Awash did a lotto freshen us up and then we outset to explore the town. As soon as we got outside the door there was our “shadow,” grinning allover his face. “You want good cheap lunch, no?Me take you to cheap place, no?” he askod. “Yes,” we answered, and started walk­ing up a winding hill, mingling with the crowd which consisted chief!v of Moors, with a fair sprinkling of French and Spaniards. Iforo we saw Moorish women for the fi'st time. They wear what appears to abe sheet around the body and another smaller one over the head, with a corner fastened across the face, leaving only the eyes uncovered. Small shops seemed to crowd into each other in the narrow street. The wares they displayed were very expensive and there was an abundance of watches. Also in the street were kiosks where money-changers shouted the odds. I never got to the bottom of the money system. In the morning, francs were 210 to the pound, by the afternoon 220. Pesetas fluctuated just the same, but shop prices remained fixed. It is all paper currency and if you have ever played monopoly, you will have an idea of what this money business is like. We arrived at the cafe and, picking up a menu card, found we couldn’t read it. We asked for eggs and chips and got them for 25 pesetas plus 10 percent, service—about 12/-. Food is a terrific price and 10 percent, “for service” is toadded everything. Later in the dav. a cup of tea and one cake cost 5 pesetas (2/6). A four, course dinner in the evening proved un­eatable, exccpt for the last item, an orange. Cost 30 pesetas, plus 10 percent. Leaving the cafe, we continued our meandering and, with the aid of a Gibraltarian friend, plus 2/6, we managed to get rid of our guide— a remarkable feat! We saw some of Tangier’s beauti­ful mosques, with their delicatelv-toned brickwork design, before going through a market where hundreds of Moors sat selling eggs and chickens. Eggs about 7d each, chickens 14/-. What a Street\ Then out into a wide white street. My efforts to describe it would be futile. Just let %mo say that it is one of the most remarkable sights imaginable. I blinked and blinked, and pinched my­self again and again. Just think of it: a tall building, modern American style, with an aged beggar in rags, chanting prayers and crying for alms outside. A Moorish woman with a great bundle of sticks heron back, passing a “ henna’d ” short-skirted blondo. A shoe-less boy in a nightshirt and a boy in jersey and shorts. A string of donkeys, laden with baskets, making way for a streamlined car driven by a fez-hatted black-faced Moor. There were umbrella-shaded tables on the sidewalk outside French hotels where people sipped and talked. Opposite, an Italian counterpart. And always the incessant patter of feet behind: “You want a guide, n o?”“NO” !!But one thing is the same in Tangier as everywhere: the laughter of children. To hear the piping, tinkling voices, and the ripple of innocent laughter was to my soul like the sound of water to a desert wanderer. In the evening, we arranged with our Gibraltarian friend to visit a dance. Whilst we were changing there came a knock on the door. W o opened it to find the in­evitable black face: “Me seo your friend and he tell tome take you to place to meet him,”“ O.K., shan’t belong, await tick,” we replied. The guide took us through windin dimly-lit streets to a cul-de-sac with i doubtful cafo at the end. turn,About double quick march, muy pronto, back to the main street with the pattering, protesting guide a poor third. In aloud voice, he claimed that we had asked him to guide us, and ho wanted payment. IIo received nono. How ho got to know our plans for the evening is a mystery, but then few people trust guides. Most of them have ‘Uncles’ with shops in Gibraltar —so they say. Wo wont onto have a marvollous time at a local club. Tho club had a marvellous timeout of us :entrance 15/-, three glasses of port £1. English was spoken mostly, and at times the dancors would veil“ Yipeo” and “Swing it.” Tho tango disappointed mo for I have seen it done better in an English dance- hall. But the dancers were not all Span­ish they wero chiefly French and Eng­lish, with a few Spanish officers. At 3 a.m. I retired, my head buzzing to tho tune of “38 pesetas —£1240 francs —£15 pesetas approx. 2/6 .”When we stepped out next morning a guide was waiting —but needlessly. We walked to the outskirts of the town, where the sight of rolling hills covered with green grass, was a stimulant to the mind. Quito a contrast to the barren Rock into which we steamed in the afternoon. But the first thing I did on landing was to scrounge from the cookhouse a slice of burnt fried bread, a few beans, and a glorious cup of “Char.” I ate with relish what, a day before, I had upturned my nose at. I had seen a lot of Tangier. I would spend a week there if I earned £3,000 a year. Thirty miles away, across the Straits, lies the town of Tangier. On a clear day, we can define buildings on the shore at night, its lights twinkle an invitation (which we can’t accept!) What is Tangier like? Below, “Paloma,” who recently visited the place for a day, tells you what you want to know.
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