The Cinema Rif in Tangier

The Cinema Rif originally opened in 1938. It is in the Grand Socco, just outside the walls of the medina. It is a restored art deco building. The cinema shows mainstream and indie films from America, Morocco, France and Spain. The foreign films have subtitles usually in French and/or Arabic.

Owned and managed today as Cinematheque Tanger it was restored as an arts complex. It is a hub for young people, playwrights, photographers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers.

It contains two studios, two cinemas, and a bar that serves alcohol, tea, and coffee. Outside there are some tables for tea and coffee service. No alcohol is allowed outside.

Today Cinémathèque de Tanger holds more than 130 collected movies on both argentic and digitals, 37 archive donators, more than 1,200 referenced documents, a collection of 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 amateur films in its archive.

Every month they issue a newspaper with the film schedule and special events. Since we arrived, they have had an Alfred Hitchcock festival, Casblanca anniversary, films featuring Bette Davis and now a cycle with Meryl Streep.

Movies generally cost 2.50 and you can get a card stamped for a free movie after you have been 10 times.


Casablanca was free and free popcorn was available to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the film.

Although the films are older, we are enjoying seeing them, usually for the first time. The ones that we have seen were certainly not on a big screen and it is interesting to note the changes in formatting, development, special effects and film techniques. The excitement of the Grand Socco, the history of the art deco building, the comfort of the theater and excitement of the cinema makes this a nice and inexpensive night out.

Call to Prayer-Adhan

The call to prayer sounds loudly just outside my window. It is something I love to hear. It is echoing, exotic, and sounds like the voice of God reverberating through the city. Now I hear it regularly throughout my day. It is called the adhan. Adhan means to listen, to hear, to be informed.

When I was in Italy I would hear the regular chiming of the church bells. Both of these sounds from different religions and in different countries sooth the soul and give a mindful marker to the day. For me, they say “Stop for a moment. Be grateful and count your blessings.”

Five times a day, the faithful respond to the call to prayer. The sound starts out low and reaches a crescendo with “Allah Akbar”. Most of the mosques have loudspeakers and when there are many mosques, you can hear them echoing one over the other.

Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam and it happens five times per day. Each time marks a phase of the day and the prayers have names accordingly. The person who recites the call to prayer is the muezzin.

Below is a short video of the call to prayer audible for the Mosque Mohammed V visible from my apartment. I also panned down to the medina and the sea. Enjoy!

The New Tanja Marina Bay

The new Tanja Marina Bay opened in early June when the King came to inaugurate the property. It’s magnificent! Although only a handful of restaurants, bars and shops are currently, open. There is work ongoing to open even more.

Tanja Marina Bay
Tanja Marina Bay

Tanja Marina Bay
Tanja Marina Bay

Tanja Marina Bay
Tanja Marina Bay

It’s a nice walk out over the water. Luxury boats line the pier on one side, behind them rises the old medina. From the other side there is a fabulous view of the beach and modern Tangier.

We went early one morning for a walk and breakfast. Venezia Ice has a large restaurant at the very end. We found a table outside by the water and had a fantastic breakfast for less than $10. People were already staking out there spots at the beach and by the time we left, it was getting full.


There are 1400 berths for boats and a yacht club. The marina will cater to professionals and amateur of yachting as well as all types of vacationers and locals. The marina will provide numerous relaxation areas with cafés, cinemas, a convention centre and numerous public spaces distributed throughout the area.

Along the beach side there is the Port de Plaiseur that is teaming with people at all times of the day. Underneath are more shops, bars and clubs, although many of them have not opened yet.


There seems to be something for everyone here and I can’t wait to see how it develops. It’s a beautiful entryway into a beautiful city and country. I can see myself spending a lot of time here year round.

Swimming at Camping Miramonte, Tangier

When we lived in Italy, we had access to public swimming pools as well as private ones. We could go there for a day to cool off and relax. Now that it’s getting warmer in Tangier, we wanted to see what was available. Our first discovery was a huge success.

Camping Miramonte is located in Marshan, not too far from Café Hafa and the Palais Marshan. We took a petit taxi from Centreville for a cost of about $1.50 for both of us. It did take a little while to find someone willing to go there. The hill up is quite steep, scarily so. It’s definitely not walkable for me.

When we arrived at the gate, we paid 100 dhm per person for an entrance ticket That’s equivalent to about $10.20. We arrive at 11:00 a.m. The posted opening time is 10 a.m. It’s a short walk to the pool entrance. There are no changing rooms. This motel and campground pool is simply open to the paying public. You can change in the bathroom, but I recommend putting your suit on under your clothes.


There are tables and chairs around the three different pools, which are free seating. If you want a lounger, you have to see one of the attendants and pay 50 dhm for the chair. They bring out a nice padded cover for it. Believe me; it’s worth the extra expense.

There are three pools. The first round one has a variety of depths starting shallow at the edge and getting deeper towards the fountain in the center. There is a baby pool attached to it. When we arrived, there was a group of children, which I thought might be some type of day camp. There were young adults doing games and organizing them.

The second pool has a diving board and is very deep. The third one is deep and small with a wonderful view of the ocean.
You can’t bring food into the pool area from the outside but they have two restaurants on the premises. One is poolside dining and has pizzas and sandwiches at very reasonable prices.

The other is a nice dining room overlooking the sea. They serve the pizzas and sandwiches, but also fish and tajines and meat. These are a little more costly but still very reasonable. We ordered a fried fish plate for two, a Moroccan salad, two bottles of water and coffee and it was less than 300 dhm ($30). There was a lot of food and it was delicious ad a great value.

Camping Miramonte Pool
Camping Miramonte Pool

The day cost about 600 dhm or $30 each. This is a little pricey for Morocco. However, it is a great relaxing day and a clean, beautiful, and calm atmosphere. We will definitely go back!

Grilled Stuffed Calamari

I found this recipe for grilled stuffed calamari in a Greek cookbook several years ago and have used it extensively. The recipe in the Greek style was significantly different from this one in that the calamari were only stuffed with feta cheese. The feta was marinated in the same way as I’ve shown here, but the other ingredients I have included for the stuffing were left out.

That just goes to show how flexible this recipe is. You can stuff these delicious seafood tubes with whatever your heart desires!

Experiment with ingredients that you like. This is my favorite version so far. I haven’t included the quantity of the ingredients, because that’s not the way that I cook, and it depends on the size of the calamari. These were huge, but honestly, I prefer ones that are medium to hold enough stuffing, yet still be tender.

Ingredients

Calamari cleaned and skin and removed, tentacles cut off but left in one piece
Olive oil
Oregano
Crushed red pepper
Garlic
Feta cheese
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine the oil, garlic and spices and make a marinade. Cut the feta into cubes and put it and the squid into the marinade and let sit in refrigerator for several hours.

Additional ingredients

Spinach (frozen, thawed or fresh sautéed-all water removed)
Sundried tomatoes, chopped
Capers, chopped

After the calamari and feta have marinated for a while, Remove the calamari and combine some of the marinade liquid with the spinach sundried tomatoes, capers and feta to make the stuffing. You want it to be moist, but not too oily. I strained mine to include all of the garlic bits and the parsley in the stuffing. Salt and pepper to taste. The feta will provide some salt so be careful.

Put the stuffing into the calamari and close the open end with a toothpick.


I used a grill pan over the stove, but you can put them on a gas or charcoal grill. They don’t need to cook very long, but it also depends on the size of the calamari. I cooked my really large ones for 5 minutes on each side. The heat should be medium and the main thing you want to accomplish is to heat the stuffing while grilling the calamari. Put the tentacles on a skewer and grill them half the time of the stuffed calamari.

Serve all with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over it. Enjoy! I served mine with a simple salad of avocado, tomatoes, and onion. Let me know if you come up with another variety of stuffing that, I should try.

The Barbary Apes of Morocco

Recently we visited my husband’s hometown of Meknes and decided to take a drive a few miles outside to the town of Azrou and the National Forest to see the Barbary Apes. We hadn’t gotten too far into the forest when we saw cars stopped and other travelers on the side of the road feeding the monkeys.


These Barbary Apes or Barbary Macaques live in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria with a small population in Gibraltar. They eat primarily plants and insects and they are one of the only species that the male takes an active role in parenting the young.

These monkeys in Morocco are endangered. An American and Moroccan group has aided these monkeys through guards in the park for protection and providing food and water in the winter months. The monkeys have been captured as infants and sold illegally as pets in Europe. Today, the population is on the rise and it was evident by the number of babies we saw clinging to their mother’s backs.

The forest where they are located is called Cedre Gouraud. You can reach the area by Grand Taxi from Fez or Meknes for about 250 dirhams or 27 usd.


These monkeys are one of the few monkeys to live in a cold climate. The winters in this area can be very harsh and there are many snow skiing lodges in the area.

A child was selling bags of peanuts to feed the monkey. I found them surprisingly gentle. I really wanted to pet one, but they are wild animals, so I didn’t try it. When you handed them the peanuts they gentle took it from your hand. One tried to grab my hat when I squeezed in close for a selfie! It’s wonderful to see animals in the wild! It was incredible!

Mzoura-The Stonehenge of North Africa

On our recent trip to Larache, I discovered a side note in my DK Eyewitness Guide for Mzoura. If you haven’t tried the DK Eyewitness Guides, you should. They are my favorite guidebook by far, particularly when you go to larger cities and can get the Top 10 guides.

Mzoura is an archeological site containing 167 monolithic stones in a circle. It’s the North African Stonehenge! I was excited to see it but finding it was quite the adventure. The drive was lovely down back roads and through fields and over hills. After stopping several times to ask for directions, we finally found the site.


Unfortunately, it was in a poor state with weeds and wildflowers overgrowing the stones. There was a locked gate, but as we approached, a man came out to let us in. There were goats grazing on the site.


Still, you could make out and walk around the distinct circle of stones. One of the stones was about 6 feet tall and stood pointing directly to the sky. The circle of 167 stones is about 55 meters in diameter and is, according to legend, the site of the tomb of the giant of Antaeus.


There is much controversy around the age of the site, but it is believed, based on some items found nearby to have been created in the 3rd or 4th century B.C. This would align with the rise of Mauretania and the first kings there.

The middle part, which is the tomb, was excavated in 1936 and no report was published, nor was the site left in good condition. I found one good aerial photo of the site from that time, which you can see here.

The site is located between Asilah and Larache towards the tiny town of Sidi el-Yamani. Be prepared to ask for directions!

El Tangerino-Spanish Restaurant in Tangier

El Tangerino is a Spanish restaurant located right on the main drag near the new Port at 186 Avenue Mohamed VI, Tanger 90000. They are opened everyday continuously from 12 noon until 2 a.m., but on Sunday, they close at midnight.

If you are a late diner (after 9 p.m. as most Spanish are) you should make a reservation. The restaurant has a lovely main dining room decorated like the inside of a boat. It is warm and inviting.

The menu is full of Spanish tapas, which could be a meal themselves and tons of fresh fish. They also cook Paella for a minimum of two people. They also have a list of meats including steaks and lamb.

This restaurant serves alcohol and has a nice wine list of Moroccan wines, beer and some mixed drinks. They have a wonderful grappa that we always enjoy at the end of every meal.

We have eaten here many times and always bring our visitors to El Tangerino. The prices are higher than usual for Moroccan restaurants. With an appetizer, two entrees, one dessert to share, a bottle of wine, and two glasses of grappa we spend less than $80, so it really is still a great value.

Tonight’s menu is a tomato and onion salad with tuna, red tuna steak grilled with a sesame seed crust and grilled calamari. Both entrees were served with some mixed sauteed vegetables and a shmear of mashed potatoes. The baguette bread is sliced thin and served with a black olive tapenade and creamy butter. We had a molten lava cake which we ate before I even thought about taking a picture. A bottle of Sarahi Reserve was the perfect accompaniment and afterward, grappa!

The service here is excellent and it’s nice to take a walk along the sea before or after your meal. The smell of the salty sea air fits perfectly with the ambience of the restaurant.


There are dining rooms upstairs, which are more modern, and often there is live music there. We prefer the more intimate setting downstairs, but the view upstairs is nice also.

There is a bar/lounge attached to the side of the restaurant, so you might want to go a little early for a cocktail. You can find the menu by clicking here, and their website here. Don’t miss it when you come to Tangier!

Fireflies, Where Have They Gone?

The other day, my husband and I were reminiscing about our childhoods. He grew up just outside of Meknes, Morocco, and I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. The differences between our childhoods are enormous, but we both spent a good deal of time playing outside with our friends.

We rode bikes, played hide and seek, tag, a variety of games with balls and ran a lot. I don’t think kids do that much these days. We were drinking cocktails on our sun porch at sunset while we talked. The stars begin to shine through the changing sky and it reminded me of the first twinkling of fireflies.

Lightning bugs, we called them, were a huge part of my childhood and a true mark of summer. The long days, setting sun, dusk and then the fireflies came out, twinkling in all their glory. I hadn’t thought of them in years and described to him how we would capture them in jars to make a lantern, or cruelly squish their lamps out and place on our fingertips to make wild light shows.

As I described them to him, (he had heard of them but never seen them in real life) I thought about my recent trip to Nashville. My parents live on a lake. It seems an ideal place for fireflies. It’s not too far from where I grew up, so I know it is an area where they live. I hadn’t seen any fireflies! Well, my father feeds the geese that gather around the lake, so that must be why they stay away, right?

The next day, I thought about the fireflies again and began a little research. Where fireflies live, Mr. Google, I asked. He says they live in Asia and parts of the Americas. There are no known fireflies west of Kansas in the United States. Then I stumbled on several reports starting in 2016 about the extinction of fireflies. There are three major causes, light pollution, loss of habitat, and chemical pesticides. Fireflies live underground during the winter months, so when lawns are treated with chemicals, it kills them.

This makes me sad. My childhood world is or has become extinct. Kids don’t play outside so much. They don’t play hide and seek or ride their bikes in gangs around the neighborhood. Plus, they don’t catch fireflies and maybe there aren’t any.

Have you seen any lightning bugs lately? Please tell me yes!

Lixus Archeological Site-Larache, Morocco

Lixus is an ancient village located just minutes outside of Larache. It is located high on a hill between the Loukkos River and the port. The ruins here date back to the 4th century B.C. Among the ruins, you will see Roman baths, temples, ancient walls, a mosaic, and some remains of Capitol Hill.

The archeological site is huge at 160 acres and only about 20% of it has been excavated. Excavation began and ran continuously from 1948 until 1969. In 1989, the site was partially enclosed and today work continues on the property and making it more tourist friendly. Some of the mosaics located here have been moved to museums in Tangier, Rabat, and Tetuoan.


When we arrived, we found some young men at the entrance who work there as security and as informal guides. They must accompany guests on the site to ensure the security of the archeological artifacts and buildings. It was helpful to have the guide lead us through the path and answer questions that we had about the site, uses of different buildings, and the excavation process.


It took us about 3 hours to tour the site. The path to climb the hill is cleared and fairly easy. We stopped to look and take in the views at a variety of altitudes. The location between the river and the Atlantic Ocean proved to be strategic for the early communities.

Lixus was first settled by Phoenicians in the 7th century B.C. It was annexed by Carthage and eventually fell to the ancient Romans. Lixus was at its prime during the Roman Empire.


It was one of the few Berber African cities that boasted an amphitheater. In the 3rd century, Lixus was almost entirely Christian and there are ruins of a Paleochristian church overlooking the site. The Arab invasions destroyed the city.


We went to this area specifically to see this archeological site and we weren’t disappointed. The site is not pristine as many archeological sites in terms of clearing brush and foliage around the areas, but for me, this contributed to the mystery and potential for future discovery of this site. I enjoyed imagining what else might lie below just waiting to be uncovered.

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