Recently, with 30-odd women from an international women's group, I set sail on the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar for Ceuta and from there by coach across the Moroccan border. We weren't allowed in the country until a man in a white coat had pointed a gun-like instrument at our foreheads to determine whether we had a temperature, a symptom of swine flu. I don't know what would have happened if one of us had had a fever. I fantasised that the instrument was a memory-eraser and would get a fresh implant of memories on the way back!
We fetched up in Tetuan where, sadly, we saw little of the town as we were sped to the Casbah, to trawl up and down the rabbit-warren alleys selling fresh fish, vegetables and live chickens, killed to order. The most interesting part of the trip was at the Berber herbalist. We were given a half hour talk on the merits of different herbs, salves and creams with the offer of a 3 for 2 bargain at the end of a talk. I spent the most money in this shop as I wasn't interested in carpets, ceramics or kaftans. It would have been a different story if there'd been any beautiful Bedouin jewellery.
Moroccan women seem to be on a very short leash.....and so were we - no wandering off, all herded together. Most of us had set off at 6.30 that morning so by 1 p..m. our time (but only 11 a.m. Moroccan time) we were ready for our feast. We had to wait another 2 hours and were heartily fed with soup, couscous, shish kebabs, apples and date pastries, rounded off with Moroccan mint tea. No alcohol available.
Below is a little slide show to give you a flavour of what we saw.