Subject: Day trip to Morocco (Tangier) from Tarifa, Spain

The gentleman who is heading for Spain, whose email message I deleted by mistake, alas, asked me some questions about going to Morocco from Tarifa, Spain. It may be useful to others, so I'll respond to the list.

The question had to do with traveling to Morocco (in this case, to Tangier) with a young child and was it safe.

The first time I went to Morocco I (and my husband) took the hydrofoil from Tarifa to Tangier. It was just a day trip. Based on that experience and other trips to Morocco, I'm going to suggest that you arrange to be met by a guide. Here's why.

When you disembark, there will await you several guides speaking excellent English who will hound you to be your guide. They will charge quite a bit. As you get farther and farther from the boat, the quality of English spoken by would-be-guides decreases as do the rates. Despite one's persistence at saying no thank you, you will be constantly approached for the services of a guide. We finally hired one to keep everyone else at bay. It worked. And we felt it was a wise choice.

Having a guide allowed us to get to the various sites--close enough by foot--we wanted to see, especially the old part of town and the souk. The latter is a maze, and without the guide it's easy to get lost and miss a lot as well. The guide will probably steer you to a shop where he will earn a commission from your sales--and collect on it afterwards. Avoid this as you wish. There will be plenty of shops you can visit serendipitiously as you wander in the maze.

My suggestion is that you contact the (French) woman who owns the travel agency in Marrakech who made all the arrangements for me when I researched my book there a few years ago and for other activities I do in Morocco on occasion. My idea is that she could arrange to have a guide meet you at the boat and take you around Tangier, walking or driving, as you wish. This way you have a level of comfort you might not necessary feel by choosing someone at the boat. And with a young child, being with a guide recommended by an agency, your comfort level in that regard will increase as well.

You will love Morocco. While Tangier is not all that typical of the rest of Morocco, you'll be intrigued to venture further another time. Do stop at the American Legation in Tangier, now a museum. Morocco was the first country to recognized the US when we became a nation some hundreds of years ago.

If you choose, contact Paula Bami, owner of the Unitours agency in Marrakech.

Buen viaje! Joan Peterson