The Heart of Tangier

It was my first time to set foot in Northern Africa. Since I was already in Southern Spain, I grabbed the opportunity to visit Tangier –  took the ferry, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and added another continent to my list. I joined a group excursion this time around to make the experience easier in terms of passport processing, transportation and all that good stuff.

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Tangier is not for the faint of heart. Its raw beauty has to be seen from the inside, beyond its Moorish architecture, historic medina, and industrious residents. The city can get intimidating for first time visitors especially if you are not used to the rough and hardened kind of city life. Even as a seasoned traveler, I was pretty overwhelmed. Mostly it was because of the constant hounding of street vendors trying to sell me things. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with being a part of a group excursion and we literally wore a sticker that identified us as tourists. But don’t let this harrowing experience be the basis of Tangier. I’m sure if I explored the city discreetly, my experience would probably be different.

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Tangier may have tried to sell me things, but at least the city wasn’t a sell-out. There was no fake advertising. I hate it when a city has been built up so much but once you get there, it actually wasn’t as amazing just overpriced. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t really turned -off by the pushy street vendors. I expected it. I read a lot of reviews. And honestly, I’ve been to many cities like Tangier and should’ve known better. Of how different cultures are. Of how rough cities are to tourists. These people are only trying to make a living. And I’m in no position to judge or look down at anybody.

I love taking photos of uncompromising cities like Tangier. What you see is what you get. As our guide led us to both the tourist attractions and the local markets, I cannot stop myself from clicking my camera.

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Cap Spartel

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Tangier is a thriving city and a bustling gateway to Africa. But in the midst of its gritty appeal, lies the heart of Tangier. Its people.

As I went through my Morocco photos, I realized that most of my favorite images are the quiet moments I captured. Candid moments of people. Of children. Of father and son. Of unsuspecting bystanders.

This is the heart of Tangier.

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Traveling has taught me a lot of things and has given me another set of eyes. Eyes that could see past through what was shown to me. Eyes that could see the heart and soul of a city, of a culture, of people.

Enough has been said about how bad the vendors are or how perilous the city is. The same can be said about New York and Detroit. It’s a matter of choice. You either love it or hate it.You either want to go or not.

As for me, Tangier was an experience. A gateway to another world. And that’s what it was for me, a gateway to pass through. Having walked its old streets and wandered through its little alleys, I’m ready to move on to a Moroccan city closer to my heart. Casablanca. Yes, because one of my all time favorite movies has the same name.

Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created Angel of Wanderlust as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.