Ceuta and Portimao

April 14. Friday, 9:30pm. Day # 100. It’s been quite day! When we tried to dock in Ceuta, Spanish Morocco (in Africa) around 6:30am, the Captain attempted two landings but aborted because of 40 MPH winds and bad currents. We were told by people that we would skip this port and sail right to Portugal. Ellen was so disappointed because it was our only stop in Africa. We unpacked our excursion backpacks and decided to play pickle ball instead. We set up the court and played a couple of games. The Captain then told us he would turn around and give it another try and if we could dock, all excursions would still go but later then we were told. Quick! Break down the court and repack!!! Well, he did it! Ellen was jumping for joy!!! I tried to jump but couldn’t do it!! Spanish Morocco is a North African country bordered by Morocco. It has ties to Spain, uses the Euro, and is predominantly Catholic not Muslim. The people who live here are ancestors of nomadic desert herders called Berbers. The country lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert. It is very green and fertile because The Atlas and Rif Mountains protect the country from the desert and cause the country to get rain. The capital is Rabat. The largest city is Casablanca. The oldest city is Fes (Fez). Our trip was over the border to a Moroccan city called Chefchaouen. (Can’t pronounce it!). The international, border custom check was very tedious. Passports, immigration forms, lots of police, and a lot of time wasted. Finally, got through it. On our way at last! The city was two bus hours away from the ship. The trip was a beautiful drive through green, fertile valleys and high mountain passes. Lots of sheep, goats, and donkeys. Now for the bad part, the bus’ air conditioning system didn’t work. El has a small thermometer on her backpack and it registered 90 degrees. Ugh!! Needless to say, people were kind of cranky! I will finish this when we return from our trip around Portimao, Portugal tomorrow. Nite, nite.
Apr 15. 2:15pm. Now to finish up yesterday’s tour. We finally got out of hell (the bus) and reached a city called that city I can’t pronounce. We entered the old city which was something to behold. The six foot wide streets again, loads of small shops and souvenir places and a lot of people. Two full buses from our ship alone! Most of the old towns we have visited are up on a hill. (good defensive positions against their enemies) (apparently, I’m one of their enemies!) This one was no exception. Up and up we go! My poor feet and knees!!! Suck it up, Coach!! The unusual thing about this place was that EVERYTHING was painted sky blue. The buildings, the doorways, the window casings, even all the stairs. All blue!! Everything! Most striking thing we ever saw! What a place!! We ate in a restaurant and were served our lunch. Soup first (didn’t know what kind it was), bread (didn’t know what kind), a salad (didn’t know what kind but it had chopped up tomatoes in it), and a large, family style platter of vegetables and meat (we couldn’t figure out what kind of meat it was). Then we were given some assorted little cookies (we had to guess what kind these were , as well). The only thing we were sure about was the water they gave us. Ellen loved it!! Here’s something else unusual. The diners were serenaded by a Moroccan four piece band. The violinist played everything holding the violin down by his hip. If that wasn’t unusual enough, he held the violin upside down ( he couldn’t see the strings). After eating, the guide brought us to a carpet store. Must be owned by one of his family members!! Who, on a ship, is going to buy a carpet?? I walked out of the presentation real early. Poor Ellen was seated in a place she couldn’t leave. Needless to say, we didn’t buy a carpet!!! While waiting, I played catch with a little girl in the alley. Even her ball was blue. Give me a break!!! We then had about twenty minutes to look around the Kasbah (fortress) area.( At least that wasn’t blue!!). Then we boarded the hell bus back to port. All in all, quite a day!! Well, this blog took so long to write, I’m going to tell you today’s tour tomorrow. But when I tell you today’s tour tomorrow, it will be yesterday tomorrow. Signing off. Captain John Paul Jones