The Second Best Fruit In The World

Restaurant Populaire

Restaurant Populaire

On Moncefs recommendation we decided to try out Resturant Populaire in Tangier. Not a big fan of sea food I was a little reluctant at first.

For me the benchmark of a good resturant is that it has to be frequented by locals (and not just ‘tourons’). And this place was teeming with locals! After a 30 mins wait we finally got a seat.

They had a set menu (i.e the menu did not exist) which was great as I didn’t have the chance to annoy the waiters with my endless barrage of questions about things on the menu. The minute we got seated the chef started delivering his goodness, and I realised why it was so popular (Populaire!)

For 200 Dhs (~£14) it might have been slightly expensive by average Moroccan standards (!?) but every bit worth the delicious seven course meal! Easily one of the best sea food restaurants I have ever been to in my life. Everything was tasty from the fresh juice (I have no idea what combination of fruits they used but I must have downed 5-6 glasses of that amazingly refreshing cocktail of some magical fruits!), to the variety of different fish cooked in different styles, leading to the dessert consisting of a combo of local honey dried fruits, nuts and variety of berries to finish it all off with the second most delicious fruit known to man – Cherimoya!! (a Pakistani mango being the most delicious ofcourse!)

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Highly recommended for anyone who goes to Tangier. The pictures don’t do justice to what was served. Patience is not my virtue on a hungry stomach, so the table does look like it was hit by a tornado, even though I tried to arrange things a little before taking a few shots (including the picture of a half eaten Cherimoya)..

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Tangier – The Hometown and Final Resting Place of Ibn Battutah

I landed in Tangier on the 1st of May and after dropping my backpack at the hostel, I went about to find the tomb of Ibn Battutah.

The Mazaar (Masoleum) of  Ibn Battutah

The Mazaar (Masoleum) of Ibn Battutah

Of all the travellers I met during my travels in Morocco only two had heard the name Ibn Battutah, and neither of them knew who he was! It was a sad fact especially since each traveller I met knew very well who Marco Polo was.

Even more disappointingly neither of the three guys who worked at the hostel I stayed at in Tangier (Ibn Battutah’s hometown) knew the way to Ibn Battutah’s tomb, arguably the most important site in all of Tangier, even though it was hardly a 3-5 mins walk from the hostel..

Armed with a very primtive vocabulary of Arabic I set out to locate the tomb by asking around. Barely a few steps from the hostel door I ran into a bunch of young guys trying to sell me Hashish (after a few days in Tangier, I realised selling hashish was no big deal, in fact smoking it was very common and even socially acceptable in the cafes). Hamza who was standing with the group said he knew a good local eating place as well as the location of the tomb and said he could show me both, not realizing that everything in Morocco comes at a cost especially over eager locals and touts giving you directions.

Inside the Mazaar, the tomb and final resting place of  Ibn Battutah

Inside the Mazaar, the tomb and final resting place of Ibn Battutah

Inevitably after a very long stroll circumambulating around the medina we reached the tomb. All the while I stayed inside the small approximately 8 * 12 feet mazaar (mausoleum) Hamza waited outside, even though I had thanked and bid farewell to him. Eventually he walked with me back to the hostel and I realised why we took the longest possible route to Ibn Battutahs tomb when he asked me for massive tip for showing me ‘such a difficult to find way’ and for hanging around all that time (uninvited)

After getting ripped off on the first day of my journey, I worked out a successful tout avoiding strategy for the rest of my trip – only ask the shop keepers for directions if you get lost in the winding, never ending streets of the medinas, they will guide but won’t leave their stalls to come along and show you the way .

Tangier – A Graveyard With A View

On the way to Cafe Hafa, famous for its views across the Strait of Gibraltar, Moncef and I walked past a graveyard. He remembered that his grandfather was burried there so we decided to make a quick stop to offer a prayer by his grave.

The last time Moncef had visited his grandfathers grave was as a small child. All he remembered was that he was buried somewhere in the old graveyard, obscured from view, located at the  back of the new graveyard and accessible only by a small dirt footpath that connected the two.

As we reached the tiny gate at the end of the footpath which led to the old graveyard I peered through entrance. Standing in the doorway one couldn’t help but admire the amazing view! The graveyard was located right at the edge of a precipice overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar – A sea of the dead overlooking an ocean full of life!

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Mocef told me that his father had already purchased a small tract for himself in this graveyard so he could be buried close to his father and to admire the amazing view. There was no more space to burry anyone there, barring those who already had procured land for allocation of their grave.

Moncef, didn’t quite agree with his father’s idea of buying a grave with a nice view. After all once in the soil you wouldn’t really be able to admire the beautiful  view !?

Perhaps the beautiful view serves as an added incentive for one’s near and dear to visit the graveyard more often and make a prayer for the departed..

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