Tangier: thoughts at breakfast

The hotel restaurant on the top floor of the Hilton Tangier.

Light is finally appearing the eastern sky, and gulls are circling high above the seashore.

And this bay. This bay.

A natural wonder, and one of the reasons that Tangier became the natural port (for Arabs and Berbers, for smugglers and sailors, for conquerors and colonials) over the centuries.

The view of this bay, through the dining room windows, is stunning.  Waves slowly lap.  And a block away the streets are still sleepy, like the locals who clearly wake later in the morning.

At a time of day when I would experience the Saint Louis freeway as a frustrating exercise in slow driving, the streets here have few cars on them.  Morning rush hour must be later in the day?

And then the thought strikes: I am watching the sun rise over Africa.  Sure, it might be Northern Africa, far from the sub-Saharan wonders that we envision in dreams and collective unconscious, but Arab Africa is still Afrique.

This particular country is decidedly French, at least in language. Arabic and French are the official languages.  University business and lessons are in French.  The local Arabic dialect is a spoken language only.  And I am switching from English to French to a bit of Spanish (Spain is 15 km away, across the Mediterranean) and trying to mix in my five Arabic words, including the standard greeting of ‘saalam alaikum’ and the Arabic words for please and thank you.

Breakfast today was eggs over medium, crusty bread with a very rich butter, potatoes, beef sausages that were more like unspiced chorizo (and which I will definitely not try again), fruit, Brie cheese, and then a slice of almond cake and a small piece of dense flan.  Tomorrow will be more of Moroccan day, with semolina porridge and chicken sausages and scrambled eggs and the like.  And certainly more almond cake!

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