Posted by: Jerry Garrett | June 7, 2017

Driving My Mercedes To Italy – Day 26 Tangier, Morocco

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The Duesseldorf Express (red box) approaches Tangier

TANGIER, Morocco

The Duesseldorf Express cargo ship, carrying my 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL to a rendezvous with me in Genoa, Italy next week, headed into the Moroccan port of Tangier today at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea.

The ship just spent the previous evening in Lisbon, Portugal refueling after a 3,500-mile crossing of the Atlantic Ocean that took 10 days (from the Dominican Republic). My Mercedes was picked up in Los Angeles on May 13, and has been enjoying (as much enjoyment as can be had inside a shipping container) a trip down the coast of Mexico, a Panama Canal crossing, a Caribbean cruise and trans-Atlantic crossing. Soon it will be transitioning into a four-stop tour of the western Caribbean, before it gets to Genoa on late on June 13. The whole trip is in excess of 5,600 miles.

It seems to have been an uneventful cruise for the most part, with the ship arriving slightly ahead of schedule for most ports since it left Manzanillo, Mexico.

The ship won’t be in Tangier long; it is scheduled to leave tomorrow.

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The port in Tangier

The port there isn’t very exciting; I got stranded there for several hours (a couple of years back) when I missed the ferry back to Tarifa, Spain. That ferry ride to Morocco was one of those bucket list things (that probably didn’t need to be on the list, frankly, as it turned out).

A slight digression: We stayed one night in the ancient Hotel Continental overlooking the harbor from the edge of the medina. It was supposedly the oldest tourist hotel in town, dating back to the 1880s or so. Terribly run-down and seedy. But also ornate and fascinating, with curious relics littered everywhere. No one seemed to know its history.

Over the reception desk hung an original oil portrait of someone that I thought I recognized.

“Is that Colonel Lawrence?” I asked the clerk.

“Yes, it is, sir,” he answered.

“Why it is here?”

“It was my understanding he was a frequent guest here, sir.”

Wow.

img_3746Col. T.E. Lawrence – perhaps you know him better as “Lawrence of Arabia” – officially died in 1935 at age 46 in a motorcycle accident in England, after a long, colorful military career as a British operative in the Middle East. Yet, stories persist of sightings of Lawrence for many years after that in places such as north Africa – particularly in Tangier. The stories had Lawrence living a rather decadent lifestyle for the time in Tangier, which was known then as a destination for like-minded individuals, before disappearing during World War II.

Nothing has ever been proven about these allegations (unusually detailed, I might add) but the stories have been widely published.

Oh if that portrait could have talked. I took a photo of it, or I wouldn’t have believed I actually saw it, after these many years; I posted it above. No, he doesn’t look much like Peter O’Toole.

Anyway, so much for exotic Tangier, and my unsolved mystery encountered there.

Tomorrow, it’s on to Valencia, Spain.

Jerry Garrett

June 7, 2017

 

 

 

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