|Roman ruin of Chellah|
Rabat Marina, Rabat Marina, Rabat Marina, this is the sailing vessel Pelagic. No answer. No answer after about an hour of calling. The Rabat harbor is located inside a river bar and the bar needs to be crossed at high tide with a pilot. We were a few hours before high tide, but there weren’t any breaking waves and we thought it would be a good time to pass. We finally got through to someone and with very limited English they informed us the bar was closed and would be open again next week. What! We weren’t sure if we were actually contacting the marina or if we were talking to some wayward fisherman having a laugh at our expense. The radio voice suggested we head down the coast another 30 miles to a town without a river bar. We circled for about 45 more minutes trying to raise someone else; port authority, a port captain, anyone that could confirm that the flat calm conditions actually did indeed merit a closure of traffic. Again, we didn’t get any answer for quite some time, but eventually we either talked to another marina official or we pestered them enough with the info that the bar looked perfectly fine, they agreed to send a pilot boat out. Sure enough, the conditions were fine for crossing and the pilot boat guided us in. Whew, welcome back to Morocco, where if someone doesn’t particularly feel like working, they simply send you on your way.
First order of business, clean the vomit off the side of the boat from Porter’s many chumming experiences. We had such calm conditions that I’m sure Porter must have had a bit of bug, because I can’t believe even without his sea legs he could have possibly been that sick! He’s fine now, but it was a rough crossing for him.
Rabat, the political and administrative capital of Morocco is quite different from the other tourist destinations in the country we’ve visited. It feels much more cosmopolitain and there is certainly a more affluent portion of the city where the marina is located. Its modern, easy to get around and convenient, yet it does have a quiet medina that is authentic, although not nearly as frantic as the ones in Marrakesh or Tangiers. It also feels very safe and we continue to get softening facial expressions when locals see the kids. I’ve said it before, but Moroccans love kids and we use that unabashedly to our advantage. The only disconcerting looks we ever get are police or other officials wagging their fingers at the Barcelona jersey’s. It’s a Madrid fan club here in Rabat, but it is a good ice breaker for when we have to approach an official for some direction in our stumbling French. We’ve learned we don’t dare ask locals for directions because it must be a cultural thing, but they will always stop what they are doing and actually guide you to the place you are looking for, even if it takes 15 mintues. After-which time you pretty much feel obligated to offer some monetary exchange, which I find awkward. I’d rather bumble along, half lost until we run into an official of some sort who can’t leave his post.
During the first few days of our stay in Rabat we visited the old abandoned and crumbling Roman village of Chellah. We watched the many storks that call the ruins home, building elaborate nests on any horizontal structure. Their bill clattering could be heard throughout the ruins. We spent a pleasant afternoon there strolling through history. We also shopped in the authentic, yet less frantic Medina. We bought dates, figs, sweets, spices and herbs from street vendors and ate in hole in the wall restaurants. To the Westerner the medinas look like 100 ways to get food poisoning, but once you get past the initial shock you can find some fantastic foods. Knock on wood we have been lucky so far and I’m sure we are only strengthening our immune systems! We also wandered through the old Kasbah overlooking the harbor entrance. The location commands a stunning view of both the river entrance and the Atlantic ocean.
We’ve been in Rabat for about 3 days and we have to watch the weather in order to leave. The bar is currently closed, but tomorrow they expect lessening swell and it may be open. That said, there are some very strong winds predicted off the coast the following day, so want to stay put until we have a bigger window of good weather. The Atlantic coast of Morocco has few safe anchorages to hide in, so we have to time our departure well. Mostly the coast has windswept beaches and good surf spots that are not good places for a sailboat to hide.
|drinking from a Roman well|
|Captain taking a break|
|Oh, they really look like they like each other|
|Nope, this is the more usual sight|
|communal water fountain|
|city street views|
|Still getting used to these loos.|
|Arch in Sale, Morocco|
|cemetery overlooking the ocean|
|small ferry we took to get from Sale to Rabat.|
|just hanging around|