A Walk on the Corniche

Today we went for a walk along the Corniche. The Corniche lies along the coast on the other side of the Medina. This lovely coastal road is new and has wide sidewalks that during the weekend are full of people enjoying the view and the sea air.

Corniche Tangier West
Corniche Tangier West

The Mosque and the Port lie before the Bay of Tangier and the new promenade runs from the port eastwards toward Malabata. The walking area from the promenade in Malabata down the entire Corniche to the other side is over three miles long.
View from my apartment
View from my apartment

As I sit looking out my window, I can see the Medina, which lies at the top of the hill that starts at the coastal road. Along that hill are a variety of well-known sites such as the Kasbah, Roman tombs and Café Hafa.

Roman Tombs
Roman Tombs

On the rocks that support this coastal road to the sea, fishermen climb out to stretch their lines. Cats find sunny spots to rest and lounge and birds wait for dinner.

You can see the barges, cruise ships and fishing boats that move along the Strait of Gibraltar and on a clear day, Tarifa, Spain along the opposite coastline.

This side to the west of the port is not commercial like the other side and although there are people and traffic nearby, the expansive of the sea in front of you makes it a wonderful place to stroll.

Officially a Resident of Morocco!

I am officially a resident of Morocco as of today. It took almost six months, but the process went smoothly and without much chaos. We visited the immigration office three times.

The first time we visited, they said that we needed to legalize our marriage in Morocco. We knew this but needed a little information on the process, which they provided. We got married in Italy and filed paperwork with the United States and with Morocco through the Prefecture and the Consulates.

In Morocco, we had to get an attorney to finalize the legalization process for Morocco. It took six weeks and one court appearance and cost about $600. This is important in Morocco for many other reasons than just the residency when a non-Muslim marries a Muslim.

Once we had accomplished that, we returned with that document, bank statements from our bank in Morocco, a background check from Italy, our rental contract for one year, a medical review from a local doctor, Ben’s residency card, my passport, of course, and completed forms provided by the immigration office.

The immigration office opens at 9:00, but to get a number, someone has to be there at 7 a.m. to put your name on a list. Then you return at 8:30 for your name to be called and they give you a number. They have a cut off around 15 people per day, so it is not crowded, and the waiting area is pleasant.

On our second visit, we discovered that they wanted a United States background check and not an Italian one, even though I had been in Italy for the past seven years. This is where things got tricky. To get an FBI background check, you must have fingerprints taken. There are no fingerprint facilities here in Morocco.

I had read online that other background checks such as local police were acceptable. My problem is that I had not lived in the US for seven years and really didn’t know where to start. I have a driver’s license and bank account in Tennessee with the address of my parents so decided to try the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. I applied online and they sent it to my parents address in Tennessee within a week.

My mother mailed it to me before Christmas, and after 6 weeks, it had still not arrived. They had sent two copies and she had mailed only one so she mailed the second one the middle of January. It took a month to get here! When it arrived, we went straight to the immigration office with all of our documents.

At this third meeting, they entered my information into the computer! We felt that we had made a huge step forward and we had. I paid 100 dirham’s (about $10) for the processing fee and left there with a receipt to come back in a month.

We were in the area today and decided to drop in and see if additional progress had been made on the residency application. The processing was complete and I left with a temporary residence card, which indicates I am a resident of Morocco.

Residency means that I no longer have to leave the country every 90 days and that phone plans, bank accounts, and some other services are available to me that weren’t in the past. My permanent card will be ready in 90 days and it is good for one year.

The renewal process for the residency card needs to start 90 days before the expiration and will require most of the same documents, but this time the background check will come from inside Morocco.

If you are moving to another country and want to establish residency, you need to do a lot of research. Many countries require a visa prior to trying to establish residency. In Italy for example, it is a three-step process. You have to get a visa before you leave your country for an extended stay, work, or elective residence. You have to apply and obtain your Permesso di Soggiorno and then apply for your residency.

In Morocco, for Americans, you have a 90-day visa for tourism to enter (and can leave the country and come back in to renew it within the 90 days) and the application for the Carte de Sejour and residency are the same application.

I was prepared for the worst and feel that I got the best! Who could ask for more?

Life in Tangier-Six Months

It’s hard for me to believe, but in a couple of weeks, we will have been in Tangier for six months! We arrived on October 3, on a ship from Genoa with all of our earthly belongings in forty boxes. A friend of Ben’s transported them in a truck from Florence on the same ship as we were on, which made it convenient.

Ferry from Tangier to Spain
Ferry from Tangier to Spain

We took our two cats on board with us. After months and months of document gathering for them, no one really cared about it. I’m sure it would have been different if we hadn’t gotten the documents, right?

Everything has seemed to fall in place for us here in Tangier. Transporting our things and our cats, finding a temporary apartment and then a permanent one, making friends, getting involved in the community, Ben finding work and school, and me learning another language all have been easy. These are all signs that we are on the right path for our lives.

My carte de sejour is still outstanding but has moved along at a reasonable pace. We had to get our marriage legalized in Morocco, which took six weeks.

Women on the Beach, Tangier, Morocco
Women on the Beach-Tangier, Morocco

Fresh Chickens from the market-Asilah
Fresh Chickens from the market-Asilah

Life is calm and relaxing in Tangier. Things don’t open until 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning but stay open late at night. It’s very family oriented and it’s normal to see families out together walking, dining, having a juice or shopping. We have a movie theater, a library, a group of friends, places to visit for day trips, the beach, and most everything that we need and desire.

Ben loves introducing me to new food and I love trying everything!
Chicken TajineI

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccan WineI

Shrimp Tapa
It is a poor and developing country, so not everything is perfect. Services such as trash pick up and care for the poor or disabled are minimal. People ask for money and food in the streets like in most major cities and there are refugees and immigrants looking for money, food, and homes.

Handmade carpets and textiles-Asilah
Handmade carpets and textiles-Asilah

Door in Asilah
Door in Asilah
Basilica of Volubilis
Basilica of Volubilis

Street of Chefchaouen
Street of Chefchaouen

The weather has been mostly wonderful with one really cold week (in the 40’s) and now a couple of weeks of rain. I’m hoping the summer is not too hot, but I’m assured that the breezes that blow off the sea keep it nice.

When I returned from Tarifa a few weeks ago for my visa extension, I realized that this feels like home now. We’ve had some friends visit, which always helps and we feel settled here. I am still struggling with the language, but feel more confident in day-to-day tasks and communication that I did when I got here, and I only expect that to continue.

The markets are fantastic and their are small towns to explore and enjoy. They are just like a postcard.

Italy seems like a dream that I reflect on now and again, and pull out my wonderful memories of there. I don’t pine for it though. This is another indicator that we are in the right place at the right time.

It just goes to show that you never know what path life will take you down next! I’m definitely enjoying the ride.

The Grand Socco-Place de Avril 9-Tangier

The Grand Socco connects old Tangier with the Ville Nouvelle or new city of Tangier. Formally known as Place de Avril 9, Grand Socco is the Spanish name coming from the Arabic word souk. Taxi drivers will know it by its name in Darija which is Souk Barre.

The formal name of Place de Avril 9, was given to the location because it was the site of King Mohammed V’s speech supporting Moroccan independence in 1947.

The Grand Socco is always busy but comes alive at night when vendors bring used items, as well as fruits, nuts, cigarettes, and spices into the square for selling. The palm filled square hosts a spectacular fountain in its center, which so far I’ve not seen filled with water.

Cinema Rif
Cinema Rif

In the Grand Socco, there are several other prominent sites such as the Cinema Rif, the Sidi Bou Abib Mosque dating from 1917. The courthouse with a banyan tree said to be over 800 years old is located there and the romantic, keyhole gate called Bab Fass into the Medina.

There are park benches for sitting and watching the world go by and you can always get a taxi in this location. There are many outside cafes around the area for sitting and drinking tea or having something to eat.

Just off the Grand Socco, you will find St. Andrews Anglican Church, the Medina, The Roman Tombs, Café Hafa, and up the hill, Café Paris and the new city center. The Mendoubia Gardens is within walking distance and is a nice place for a picnic.

Just up the street that runs to the left of the mosque as you are facing it is a farmer’s market on Thursday and Sunday. Farmers line the street with vegetables and fruits and the women wear the colorful straw hats and long skirts of the countryside.

Hamadi-Restaurant in Tangier’s Medina

We are having a lot of fun trying the different restaurants around Tangier. I don’t write about them until I’ve visited a couple of times and have a good handle on their food and service. Hamadi, located just outside the medina at rue du Kasbah is one that I don’t hesitate to recommend.

You will find similar Moroccan food on other menus around town, but the atmosphere and service set this restaurant apart. They have a wine list and a wide offering of menu items. The restaurant is quintessentially Moroccan with velvet seats, tiled walls, and sculptured arches. One of the best things is the music. Traditional Moroccan music played on instruments you don’t see everyday completes the scene.

It’s easy to over order in Morocco because the descriptions of the dishes are not very complete. They will usually just say something like “chicken tagine” and when it arrives there will be an abundance of vegetables, bread, and olives.

We ordered two salads, which were enormous and delicious. Either of these could have been shared between two or four people with an entrée. Our entrees were a lamb tagine and a pastilla. A pastilla is a pastry filled with chopped chicken, nuts, raisins, dates, turmeric, coriander and potatoes. It is a savory dish but the outside is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It’s delicious!

Pastilla originated in Andalusia. The Andalusians who migrated to Fez have spread the popularity of the dish throughout Morocco and the Maghreb (Algeria and Tunisia).

Hamadi is a very large restaurant and when we have been it has not been crowded, but I suspect once tourist season heats up, it will be. It is definitely more of a tourist experience, but one that you shouldn’t miss.

I didn’t think to make a video of the music because I was too enthralled with them, but I found a nice one on YouTube that you can see .

Camels in Morocco

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited as when I looked out my window in Morocco and saw camels passing by! We had only arrived a day or two before and had an apartment by the sea. I was gazing at the ocean, when three camels, led by a man strolled down the beach in front of me. To say I was surprised is an understatement, and I’ve never gotten over the delight of that sight.

The sighting of these camels caused me to do a little research. I found that what I thought were camels are actually dromedaries. Camels have two humps and dromedaries have one hump. Dromedaries are a part of the camel family.

Dromedaries are rarely found in the wild. You can see herds of them along the roadsides in Morocco, but most of these have owners. They are native to Northern Africa, but the only wild herds are in Australia.

You might hear many negative things about camels such as their stubborn streak and aggressiveness. This apparently only applies to the leader of the herd. Dromedaries are actually very gentle creatures that are intelligent and patient.

Dromedaries have very long eyelashes and hairy ears. The hair helps to protect their eyes and ears from the sand in the desert. A full-grown dromedary stands five or six feet and they live to be 25 to 50 years old. Dromedaries live on very little food and water and they can stand the strong desert heat. They do this by heating up their own bodies.

If you’ve ever dreamed of Morocco or imagined life here, you have undoubtedly imagined the desert with caravans and camels streaming across it. In addition, saddles and robes of many colors are on the camel’s backs and men with long robes, head covers, and beards ride them.

There are many opportunities in Morocco to ride the camels. They are standing along roadsides, beaches, and parks and you can ride one for a small fee. Types that are more adventurous might want to take a longer trek through the desert on a camel and sleep in a tent under the millions of stars. You can find all kinds of package deals to suit any budget on the internet.

I can’t wait until I get up the nerve to try it! Stay tuned.

Henry Matisse in Tangier

Henry Matisse is by far the most famous of the artists who visited and worked in Tangier. There were many artists, musicians, and writers who were drawn to Morocco and to Tangier specifically for inspiration. It is fun to explore and discover those people and the work they did here.

The artist lived in Tangier in 1912 for one year. He lived in room thirty-five at the Hotel Ville de France, which is located just down the hill from my apartment before you get to the Grand Socco. You can enter the hotel and visit the room, which still has the number 35 on the door. It is on the second floor and the other rooms have numbers starting with two hundred.

In the room are copies of some of the paintings Matisse completed while living there including the most famous one titled, Window in Tangier. The painting is the view from one of the hotel windows. The painting was sold directly by Matisse in Paris to a Russian collector, Ivan Morozov. After the Russian Revolution, the painting was confiscated. By 1948, it was donated to the public and now hangs in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

Poster of the Painting-Window in Tangier
Poster of the Painting-Window in Tangier

Matisse became interested in Islamic art of North Africa and his bold colors reflect the influence of African art on his work. Matisse searched for a new way to paint Morocco that was different than artists such as Jean Leon Gerome. He looked at the foliage, the designs of the buildings and textiles, the spectacular light, and the colors.
View from Matisse's hotel room
View from Matisse’s hotel room

View from Matisse's hotel room
View from Matisse’s hotel room

My research indicates that the last major exhibit showing the works of Matisse in Morocco was in 1990 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Oh how I wish I could see these works, but as of now, that will require a trip to Russia. It’s on my list.

Shrimp Pils Pils Recipe by Paula Wolfert

Moroccan food is delicious. My husband has been coking Moroccan food for me for years, so I haven’t tried it. My dear friend Susan, who lives in Florence and is a wonderful cook, gave me an extraordinary Moroccan cookbook for a going away present.

The name of the book is The Food of Morocco. It is written by Paula Wolfert. Paul Wolfert traveled and cooked in Morocco for many years and is considered the premier American expert on Moroccan cooking. She was a James Beard award winner for this particular book.

The book is absolutely beautiful. There are amazing photos and so much information on the culture, tradition, and techniques of Moroccan cooking. I am hooked.

One suggestion she makes early on in the book is to try two or three recipes and get really good at them, so as not to be overwhelmed.

This was the first recipe I tried and now I’ve made it over a half dozen times and it gets better every time. You should definitely try it.


1 lb of shrimp
(The recipe calls for king or tiger prawns 24-36 deveined) I have used smaller shrimp as well, which I like just as much.
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds, preferably Moroccan
4 garlic cloves, peeled
½-teaspoon coarse sea salt
¾-teaspoon mild hot red chili powder
1 Tablespoon of Saffron Water

Dry ½-teaspoon crumbled strands of saffron in a warm pan. Crush again, and then soak in 240 ml of hot water and store in a small jar in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to one week, or you can freeze it in ice cube trays
360 grams of peeled, seeded and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes (I used canned)
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1 ½ tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Rinse the prawns and wipe dry with paper towels. Let them stay at room temperature so they are not ice cold when they enter the hot pan.

2. Crush the cumin seeds, garlic and coarse salt to a paste in a mortar. Add the chili powder and the saffron water and stir until smooth.

3. Put the tomatoes, garlic spice mixture and olive oil in a large frying pan, set over a high heat and fry for several minutes to develop the flavors.

Add the prawns and cook, stirring for about 4 minutes or until they are firm and curled. Sprinkle with the herbs and stir once. Then serve immediately.

This is incredible served with basmati rice and a salad or slices of soft Moroccan bread. It serves four people.

The Strait of Gibraltar

Just outside my apartment window lays the Strait of Gibraltar. My sunroom has this incredible view. I usually am there working on my blog, reading, or just watching the ships, ferries, and fishing boats go by.

The Strait of Gibraltar is the narrow waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It separates Gibraltar and the Peninsula of Spain from Morocco and Ceuta, Spain in Africa.

There are only 8.9 miles of ocean between the narrowest points. It is one of the busiest waterway passages. More than 71,000 vessels transverse this strait per year. Cruise ships, freight carriers, fishing boats and ferries all vie for space.

The relatively short distance between the two shores has served as a quick crossing point for various groups and civilizations throughout history. This includes Carthaginians campaigning against Rome, Romans traveling between the provinces of Hispania and Mauritania, vandals raiding south from Germania through Western Rome and into North Africa in the 5th century, Moors and Berbers in the 8th–11th centuries, and Spain and Portugal in the 16th century.

These all add to the multi-cultural city, which is now Tangier.

The Strait lies mostly within the territorial waters of Spain and Morocco. The United Kingdom (through Gibraltar) claims three nautical miles around Gibraltar putting part of the Strait inside British territorial waters. However, the ownership of Gibraltar and its territorial waters is disputed by Spain. Morocco also disputes the far eastern end (of Ceuta).

Boats aren’t the only thing passing by. The Strait is an important bird area as identified by Birdlife International. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds use it every year to pass between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. These include large numbers of Cory’s and Balearic shearwaters, Audouin’s, yellow-legged and lesser black-backed gulls, razorbills and Atlantic puffins.

I enjoy my view of this famous waterway everyday….and I’m not alone!

Fat Cat in Morocco

We have a cat named Vincent. I brought him from the United States to Italy and now to Morocco. Vincent is sixteen years old. He has traveled a lot. He has lived in Nashville, Denver, Indianapolis, Boston, and Florence, Italy and now in Morocco.

Vincent is a very sweet, calm, and affectionate cat that never meets a stranger. He meets us at the door when we enter and never leaves our side when we are in the house. He is always looking for a cuddle and will remind you with a gentle nudge or a paw.

Vincent has a weight problem. He has for a long time and we have controlled it through his diet. He began to exercise more when we added a kitten, Felix, to our household, almost three years ago. That has helped a lot, but he really needs “diet” cat food.

If you have been to Morocco, you know that there are cats everywhere. They are stray, but not usually feral. The people who live nearby, shopkeepers and others with a spare morsel of food care for them. They tend to be very smart about where they decide to live, usually choosing the vicinity of fish and meat markets, restaurants, and parks.

Most of them seem healthy enough, lean, and street smart. Some look sick and scruffy and like they spend their evenings in brawls.

When we arrived in Morocco, we bought whatever cat food we could find while we were settling in. We checked our local supermarkets and larger variety stores for “diet” cat food with no luck. Finally, I got online, found a pet supermarket near our apartment, and sent my husband out to see if they had the diet food.

When he came home, he was not happy with me. He told me never to send him out in Morocco to ask for diet cat food. He said that he entered the shop and there were three workers at the counter when he approached.

They welcomed him and asked him what he was looking for. He told them that he had an overweight cat and was looking for diet cat food. Two of the workers quickly left and entered the backroom while my husband spoke with the third. While he was talking, he heard the laughter and guffaws of the other two workers in the backroom. They did not have any diet cat food.

In the end, we had a good laugh about it. The moral of the story is don’t look for diet cat food in a country where most cats rely on the kindness of strangers for their next meal. A little thought and awareness about where you are and what the culture is like will go a long way. I’m sure the workers at that store have had fun telling their friends and family about the fat cat in Morocco.

Speaking of cats, a friend of mine has started a very worthy cause to help the street cats of Morocco. She is collecting money to spay and neuter the street cats of Morocco. If you would like to help, you can check out the page at www.youcaring.com.