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Thursday, May 26, 2016


On Wednesday, May 25th, I went to one of the banks to close my account. As usual, Cajarural wanted to play a game with me. They said I had to pay for the second half of my insurance, which I happily did, but then they wanted me to pay a fee for not paying when the charge initially posted to my account... Now, this was no problem except that this whole year they hadn't gotten around to giving me access to my online banking. And, the only way I could have known that the insurance had posted would have been to go in every day and wait in line to ask the representative at the desk about my account status. Of course, this would be impossible to manage and they knew it... nevertheless, they charged me 25 euros.

Not the best way to start my last day in Spain, but I still managed to have a little fun before leaving. That day I talked to all my students in Spanish for the first time - I hadn't let on for the whole year that I could and suspicions had grown into something of a local conspiracy. Some of the students couldn't believe their ears, others smiled and laughed and, of course, a couple felt betrayed. One of my students said the usual "you speaka Spanish, I know you do." to which I responded, "si, yo hablo Espanol."

His jaw dropped and he stood there gawking as I continued on toward my next class. Jorge certainly had a penchant for the dramatic - though, I suppose most kids do.

That night my friend Stefan arrived really late - he was coming all the way from Switzerland after all. At 1am, after stopping for a minute to appreciate the castle, we began our journey to Morocco.

Seven and a half grueling hours later, we tiredly rolled into Algeciras just in time to catch our ferry to Africa. At both borders we found ourselves being conned into giving "helpers" (beggars) a "coffee" (money) for assistance in determining which way was straight ahead. The truth, of course, is that these "helpers" are just people who get away with taking your money in exchange for directing you to follow the car in front of you. Asking for a coffee is probably just a way of sugarcoating the fact that they're extorting money from unsuspecting tourists.

After a two hour ferry ride we were at the second border control where they decided to search us. This was no big deal until Stefan admitted that he wasn't actually sure his car would be allowed in Morocco. As it turns out, you're supposed to register your car when you take it to another continent. Fortunately, since Stefan's car is Swiss, they let it slide.

Upon entering Africa, we proceeded to break the law by cutting across the first roundabout we came to - Stefan doesn't like to go around the long way. We then went to exchange some money and found that one euro nets you 10 Durham! Of course, a water costs 5-10 Durham so that's not much less than the going rate.

At this point the plan was to get to Rabat by sundown but then Stefan and I both agreed that the scenic route would be more exciting. As we meandered through the countryside we saw random animals on the roadside, picked up a hitchhiker, stopped in Chefchaouen and, while driving through the mountains, hit some of the wildest country “roads” I had ever seen - many were so narrow and full of potholes that it would be fair to say that there was more dirt than bitumen.

Eventually we did arrive at our destination and were able to pick up our rather anxious friend Anthony from the airport. Despite our being surprisingly only a few minutes late, old mate wasn't a real happy chappy.  Still, we reached our spacious, well-equipped AirBnB flat at midnight and, well, not bad for $8 a person! Clearly the dollar goes a long ways in this land.

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