Is it possible to travel from Rabat Morocco to Spain without flying or taking a ferry and arrive in 3 and a half hours? Well? Is it? Yup. And you won't even leave the continent of Africa to do it, but you will need a passport. How is this possible? A 7 km strip of Spain right here on the north coast of Morocco where you will find the Spanish town of Ceuta. Founded as a Spanish city in the 17th century its churches are built atop of the ruins of ancient mosques.
When I first heard about Ceuta from my friend Brent he told me he had been and gone to the topless bars. Oops....turned out he said tappas bars. Really tappas bars sounds almost exactly like topless bars when you say it out of the blue. Seriously, try it with a friend. And while there aren't any topless bars, don't worry there is still lots of topless sunbathing. It is Spain after all. And the tasty tappas bars everywhere. So we get in at 8 pm and they are just opening. The Spanish don't eat dinner until 8pm or 9pm. So we're just in time. Bring on the rioja and delicious food. No chick peas or couscous allowed. The food is delicious, as is the wine and even the kids are scarfing it down (that's the food, we wouldn't share the wine). A wedding party meanders in for the start of their evening celebration. They are dressed impeccably sipping wine under the moonlight by the hotel's pool. I've had a glass a wine (ok....or two) and I'm fantasizing about donning an elegant dress, crashing the party, mingling with the locals unnoticed and listening to their stories and some intriguing international adult conversation. Instead I'm rounding up 4 exhausted kids and tucking them into bed listening to the drums of what must be the evenings entertainment. Their night is just beginning. Mine just ending, but wishing I was at the party. In my dreams perhaps.
Saturday starts with getting out and about town. Like in many European towns, shops shut down in the early hours of Saturday afternoon and they don't open on Sunday. The churches and their bells are somehow comfortingly familiar, much more melodic than the bellowing call to prayer in Morocco. The young Spanish men are cruising the streets of the beach town with their windows rolled down and radios blaring techno music. Jade informs me that she's going to live in Spain when she's older. Her timing couldn't be worse. I'm imagining well....Ricardo, Carlos, Manuel....sleazy greasy haired Spanish men and my beautiful innocent girl. Proof that not all fantasies are good fantasies. I'm trying to shake the image and I really hope she's not going to like Italy next month cause I'm already picturing Giovanni, Antonio and Lorenzo, but I already know the answer. We see some museums and some street dancers and get some instant gratification at Zara and in our pre-Ramadan stock up at LIDL where we get as much rioja as we can carry back to the hotel. Ah....cheap, delicious Spanish red wine. Then we head to the water park. It's not your water slides/rides kinda water park. It is a lounging kinda place with 3 intertwined saltwater pools with little islands to explore and walled waterways to get lost in. I would say that we looked local among this crowd with our caucasianess except that the girls and I weren't topless and none of us were smoking. Dead giveaways that we're tourists. The kids are enjoying just being anonymous and not the blonde celebrities that they are in Morocco.
We head back to the hotel and dinner, or lunch by Spanish terms since we were eating at 6pm. There we see them. The bridge club. A group of 8 Spanish ladies in their 80's playing cards. Some are here to socialize, but Carlita (as I have so named her) is all business. She doesn't look up from her cards and doesn't want to socialize. She wants to win. Some are spry 80 year olds, another is wheel-chair bound, one has beautiful shinny glossy gray hair and could be the cover girl on a box of hair color. Ok...all of them are coiffed. I'm pretty sure when you're that age it's all about the hair. Must get my hair done for Saturday bridge club with the ladies. Where they from Ceuta or were they vacationing? What are their life stories? I can't even imagine how long and through what events their friendship has endured. Enter fantasy number 3. Will my friends and I be hanging out playing cards and drinking sangria in our 80s? Will I have my teeth? A walker? Most importantly who gets the good old lady hair? Not me. I don't have good hair now. I would put my money on Suzanne. She's always had that perfect breck girl hair. I got dibs on teeth! I don't want to be relegated to a life of apple sauce and mashed potatoes. And who says we must play cards? I can see Eva doing still running the incline in Manitou Springs in her 80's. Maybe they'll be a chair lift up by then and we can all meet Eva at the top of the mountain. And maybe they'll be a tappas bar up there. Or a topless bar. We'll be too damn old to care which. Just as long as we can get our hair done before we go.
So the day draws to a close and so does our time in Spain. We make a quick trip to the beach the next morning to visit the quiet Mediterranean and collect shells before we load up the car. It was a relaxing weekend. Ok....as relaxing as a road trip with 4 kids can be. Wine, food, church bells, toplessness, relaxing and day dreaming. Just a little taste of the European life to hold us over until we go to Italy in 3 weeks.