mercredi 16 mai 2018

Cabo Verde on my mind









"Cap Vert, really? Why don't you try Europe or Asian, they are more fun."
"Well, first of all, define FUN." 






I often got that reaction whenever I mention Cabo Verde as my first-time-abroad destination to my friends and family. And to be honest, I don't know why I choose it. It's just whenever I think about it, I get this intense energy and excitement. I had friends from over there (Miguel, Elsa and Juan) and probably they, unintended-ly, influenced my choice. 

Cabo Verde was on my bucket-list for three year in a row, and I failed to fulfill that because, well, I had other highly ranked priorities. But, 2018 is my year. And I DID IT.


First things first

Visa Requirement
Obviously I had to check whether I need a visa to enter into the Cabo Verdean territory.  As a holder of a Moroccan Passport, I will acquire a visa of 30 days upon my arrival to Praia International Airport, GREAT!

*It actually got complicated afterwards. I came across an article stating that travelers to Cabo Verde are no longer allowed into the direct flight Casablanca - Praia. Many were denied boarding due to the lack of Visa. Funny thing, not funny though, Cap vert is still claimed to be visa upon arrival for Moroccans, yet, the Moroccan authorities do not allow boarding without a visa. Another funny thing, there is no representation of that country in Morocco, no embassy, no consulate. Nada! 

Ps. I wrote that before I have actually traveled. And true, after seeing that article, I went looking for further information and I found one travel agency that can provide an authorization issued by the Cabo Verdean authority to allow access to their country. And guess what? I was still denied boarding because my passport didn't have any visa stamp by the Cabo Verdean authority, notwithstanding the authorization -_-. So I had to call the travel agency to fix it :D

Flight ticket search

My Cabo-Verdean friends who were studying in Morocco back then informed me that there are direct flights from Morocco (Casablanca) to Cap vert (Praia, Santiago), so I didn't bother about that issue much. However, I did make research just for information and also compare the prices, I found that there are other alternatives with other airway companies with one or more stops into Europe. A direct flight it is then. 

April coincides with my vacation and also, to my luck, the low season, which is perfect for me given my tight budget.

Flight tickets, booked!


Accommodation

I had to make a thorough research for a youth hostel and luckily I found one in Praia. However, in Maio, only hotels or apartments are available.

In Praia, I booked a bed in a shared room in a hostel in the suburbs. I haven't been asked to do any ads for this hostel, but Morabeza Kriol Hostel is the place to be for backpackers; in the center of Praia, with a bus station right in front of it. Dany, the owner, to my luck, spoke very good English and even French, and was a very good and keen host.

Cannot lie, there were issue with WIFI connection in there, but it made things even better. I mean it made us, all travelers, sit together, get to know each others and share stories from our travel experiences.

I tried Couchsurfing but the people who answered to my staying requested declined hosting me as they were not around Praia at the time of my travel.



Budget

I have assigned a budget of about 700 Euros, flight ticket excluded for the 10 days. And returned with about 200Euros :D

The currency of Cabo Verde is Escudos (CVE), equivalent of approx. 111 Escudo = 1 Euro.

Language

I regret not having learned Portuguese before going there. I mean with luck you can find people speaking French or English but most of the time, Portuguese wins and Kriol (native language), of course. So, honestly, I have missed a lot of opportunities to interact with the locals.








Want to know what to do while around Praia? Stay tuned!

mardi 6 février 2018

لا قاع أحمر

credits: Internet

فرق كبير بين عاهرات جنيف وعاهرات مغربي العزيز
قيل، سجارات فاخرة، ونبيذ عتيق وأحذية بقاع أحمر
تركع لهن عروش على طولها تحت قدميها العارية خاوية
لا،
لا، تلك التي أعرفها أنا الآن هاوية،
لم تعد ترى ضوء بداية النفق
أما نهايته، فبعض أنقاض أمانٍ مبعثرة
صباحها عباءة سوداء ووشاح أسود على الرأس غطاء
هكذا عرفتها، واحدة من الباقيات الصالحات
سواد على سواد، وكأنها في حداد على الحياة وحتى الممات
كلمترات بعيدة عن مسقط رأسها،
أحذية عليها وحل
فناجين قهوة مَرار
صنة سجائر تفوح
خرجات صباح مبكر في برد طنجة القارس
عودة ثقيلة، خطوات ثقيلة، رأس مطأطأ
هكذا عرفتها، واحدة من الباقيات 
أيام ولت، خلتها هي التي عرفت
مسكينة بلا سند
وحيدة بلا ظل في هذه الحياة
حزينة على ماكان ولم يكن
حتى ظننت أن المستذئبين خرافة
لكن، ليلة مقمرة أم لا كانت جد كافية
لتخرج المستذئبة من لباس الباقيات البشري
شعر بني على أكنافها ملتوٍ
وجه مرسوم عبث
حواجب موشومة
عينانين مكحولتان
شفاه ممتلئة تكاد حمرتها تنفجر لافا
ثديان شبه عارية، معروضة فوق الطلب
خصر ممتلئ ملتو حول نصف شبر ثوب
ساقان ممشوقان 
وحذاء كعب عال،
لا، لا قاع أحمر، لا
عطر فائح استغوى الجو حولنا، ولم ينل من رائحة السجائر الكريهة
ليس من عاداتي تثمين الأشياء أو استرخاصها 
لكن اصدار الأحكام المسبقة لاشعوريا انغرزت شوكته فية حتى النخاع
ماعساني سوى أن أرى الرخص مستذئب أمامي
نظرة شاملة على وقفتها كانت كافية
وكأنها في حداد على الحياة وحتى الممات
سواد على سواد
صباح مساء
حيث هي فعلا في حداد
على الحياة وحتى الممات 
إلى الغد، كان كل ما قالته



lundi 29 janvier 2018

A Sola Backpacker - Part VII

Once in Taghazout, I tried to look for the hostel I booked a room at. I found the owner and he informed that my reservation was cancelled because I didn't answer his phone call, which I never received. When asked him to check the phone number he used, it was definitely mine but the last two pair of numbers were misplaced. My bad.

The room I booked was already taken, so he suggested that he himself would look for suitable accommodation for me. Eventually, he hooked me up with his cousin who owns a house and rent separate rooms. I got a room in the second floor with shared kitchen, bathroom and living room. It was clean and in rather secure place, so I took it. Upon my arrival to the said house, I found to foreigners about to check in.

Besides the owners of the house, I was the only Moroccan amongst two Irish and a group of 3 Spanish surfers. My room was next to the Irish guys. The Irish guys and I arrived at the same time to the house, so when the tenant was showing me my room, his brother was showing the Irish guys theirs and asking for their passports to complete the formalities.

The Spanish group were settled in the roof floor, been there for almost a week, I heard. All I heard from them were the "hola" and the sound of their struggle to bring up or down their paddle and surfing boards. They were beyond sun-bathed and often stoned.

The Irish guys, on the other hand, we became friends. One in his late fifties and the other in his late thirties. I learnt that the two of them knew each other on their flight to Morocco only and they have traveled together in improv. They visited Fez and Chafchaouen and they intended to go south. When I say friends, I meant friends who didn't worry about or bother memorizing the names of each other because it was fine. 

jeudi 4 janvier 2018

A Sola Backpacker - Part VI

What stroked me the most is that most of the people I encountered were very friendly. You smile and they immediately smile back, that if they don't actually smile first. As far as I go, the urban features are getting simpler, or rather more 'primitive', if I may say. Less fancy houses, less fancy cafés, less schools, less entertainment areas, less health services, less "civilization". The more I walked, the more I felt content and at peace. The bigger that satisfaction, the bigger grew my excitement and drive and the more I felt hungry :D. 

I stopped by a restaurant. Ordered the easiest meal on the menu, I was starving. Meanwhile I started chitchating with one of the waiters. "First of all, he said, you are eventually in Tamraght." Then, he pointed out that there are not many hotels around and that the owner of the restaurant might arrange a room for me, given he own a small hostel. My guts said no. I told him that I wanted to book a room in a hostel but it was busy. He said that it should, given that it was surfing season and all hotels, hostels and apartments tend to be fully booked. 


A guy undoubtedly was ear dropping , as once the waiter left, he started a conversation with me regarding a place to rent. I let him make his offer: a bed in his little cottage down the beach, cheap, clean and safe; conveniences: no electricity, no private bathroom, no neighbors. No. So I looked for accommodation in Taghazout and luckily I found one. 

I enjoyed that little break and decided to keep going to reach Taghazout.

It was a bit difficult to carry on in the same pace as my stomach was full, so I took it slow. Along the way, there were lot of construction projects, so I passed by trucks, workers, and dust. One security guard advised me that if I want to reach Taghazout, there is a quick shortcut after about 10 min walk to my right, it'd take me down the beach. I asked him about the other main road, he said that it gets up to the mountain, circling the buildings at the bottom of the hill. 

As tired As I were, I opted for the shortcut, bearing in mind that there are touristic residents ashore and that it would be secure for me to walk along the beach even if it were deserted. To my surprise it was not. As I discovered later on, the said beach is only a 5 min walk from Taghazout.

I reached Taghazout around 5 PM. -ish. It was busy, lot of vans and caravans parked along the way; coffee shops oozing with tourists, lot of surfing boards and wet-suits.....



mercredi 27 décembre 2017

A Part-time Prostitute V

One evening I heard footsteps on the corridor, heels to be exact from two different pair and female voices. Well, my room was next the main door, so yeah I heard basically everything. Anyways, it was bit unusual given that only two people live in that flat, me and her. My parents don't have time to visit and her family never visited her, so I got curious.

The very next morning, I went to buy some supplies and the shopkeeper briefed me, of course
" - I heard that your flatmate has visitors?
- Really? I don't know.
- Yes, I saw them yesterday around 8, all high-heeled and with hug suitcases.
- Aha.
- I can't hide it but they look suspicious.
- Aha. Are you done?
- Yes, I mean it is not my business, but you see we live in this conservative neighborhood with families and stuff. It is just those girls are suspicious."

I bit my tongue to stop me from asking him about the girls he keeps bringing to his apartment every night. Because guess what, he lives in the apartment upstairs. I bit my tongue to stop myself from busting him. Because guess what, I saw him tiptoeing one upstairs. Whatever!

I had quite a busy week. I didn't get the chance to meet with the visitors nor chitchat with my flatmate. By Saturday, she came knocking on my door around 9 in the evening, and inviting me to her room to introduce me to her friends. I wanted to refuse but well, I went. 

Two girls, one my age and another younger, smoking like chimney. Fake nails, hair-extension, lowest V-necks ever and jeans about to bust open. The girl my age was white, with vision glasses, black hair and cute smile. The other one, dark-skinned with a hoarse voice, long tie dye black and light-brown hair, rather pretty and appeared to be rude. We greeted each other and conversation flowed. The dark skinned happened to be my flatmate's bartender friend's daughter  and the other girl is her friend; both are living in Turkey and coming to Morocco for vacation; both working in bars as waitresses. That explains a lot. They summoned me to inform me that one of the most famous nightclubs in Tangier sent them an offer and they needed company: one free liquor bottle of their choice for a bunch of 5 girls. Three of them, me and some other girl we should find/invite asap. 

I just phased out from the conversation, making a mental list of the reasons I won't join them. 

1. I have mid-terms to study for and two presentations to prepare;
2. I don't drink/smoke;
3. I am broke;
4. I have nothing to wear (that's gonna be a lame reason, bearing in mind the amount of clothes scattered over that room, on the sofas, on top of the suitcases, on the floor...
5. my hair is a mess;
6. I don't have any other female friend into clubbing.

So I opted for excuse 1 and 6. They hated me for that but well. 

I stayed for a cup of tea and it was really interesting. The way they interacted with each other was strange to me. They acted like sisters and enemies. My first impression was proved. The girl with the glasses, with her naive features and petite physique, is the actual brains. The rude-appearing one was actually sweet but her appearance would made it hard to appreciate her for herself. They started talking about guys, cheating, sugar daddies and a lot of concepts I never heard of until then. And of course, they made fun of my non-drinking non-smoking character.