Hamza the Hyundai was going back to Marrakesh this afternoon, so we figured we’d squeeze more stop in before handing the keys over in Tangier. There were a few good options along the way, but the one that caught our eye the most was the seaside medina of Asilah (or Assilah, I’ve literally seen it spelled both ways, 50/50).
The history of the place goes back all the way to the Phoenicans in 1500 BC. The Portuguese are responsible for its walls, but the Moroccans are responsible for its most well known feature, its painted medina walls.
Every year, Asilah hosts the International Cultural Moussem of Asilah, where local artists get to display their works on the medina walls. At the end of the festival, the winning works get to stay up, and it all starts again the next year.
Wandering through the streets, you find lots of little artists, different shops, a few galleries, a palace – lots to see in such a compact area! Oddly enough, for a place based upon artists, there did seem to be a bit of hesitance to allow the art to actually be seen. Daina was taking a picture of an alley with an artist in it, and the guy went on this rant about being impolite, not saying hello and photographing his art. Not what was happening, but certainly didn’t encourage us to buy anything of his.
There was also an artist’s commune, with art displayed on a board in a manner which made you tink they were selling it, and a security guy kept us out.
Anyway, aside from that, the rest of the walk around was pretty calm. There are some decent food stalls outside the walls as well, although I’m going to have to assume with that one, as Daina and I sat down for a “special” paella that was supposed to have extra seafood, and ended up just getting the regular, with only four shrimps and “Rice-A-Roni”, as Daina put it.
Asilah has a small beach that you can wander down to, nothing special, but good enough for a sun and a swim. I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to make this stop, but if you’re passing by, definitely worth a look.
Now, as per the road trip. I don’t know if it was more noticeable today because it was our last day with the car, or if it was just worse, but all the way from Chefchaouen to Asilah to Tangier, the drivers were just plain horrible, including one truck that literally turned a corner, slightly went up a hill, then cut in front of another driver, all diagonally.
One thing I’ve neglected to mention is how Moroccan speed signs “encourage” you to slow down by being placed rapid-fire, one after the other. There were times this trip where we literally saw “60-40-20” posted on three circular signs, not too far apart, and a few times when it was “60-40-20-60” in the same manner. Today, we got “busted” by one of those by an officer as we were coming off the toll highway. We thought we were going 100. He said we were going 102 in an 80. So, in other words, we must have missed the “80” in “120-100-80”. He was nice about it and let us off with a warning, as we legitimately did not see the 80 and were slowing down for the toll lane anyway, but close call on what could have been a pretty big fine.
So anyway, as much as Hamza was great, it was a bit of a relief to be rid of him. The hand-off didn’t go as smooth as we had hoped, as the guy picking up the car couldn’t figure out where we were and there was a lot of broken telephone to figure it out (like, literally, dropped calls and incompatible pictures and such.).
Now, the car is gone, and we’re off to grab a bite in Tangier. We’ll see what the city proper has to offer tomorrow.