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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sephardic Heritage Trip 2018/5778: Day 3 - Morocco

On the third day of the Sephardic Heritage trip we woke up before dark in the port city of Algeciras. After another lavish breakfast - this time on the hotel patio, we were off for Tarifa to catch a ferry to Tangiers, Morocco. 

After crossing the border, we met the one-and only Ahmed the tour guide and his colleague Jafar and boarded the bus. We drove up through the French, Spanish, and American sections of Tangiers, passing luxury villas on the way - including the summer palaces of the king of Morocco and the prince of Saudi Arabia. 
Our first stop was a picturesque lookout point with a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. We had the unique opportunity to make a special Bracha upon seeing the meeting point of two major bodies of water. Back on the bus, we drove down to the Caves of Hercules, a natural grotto formed by the crashing waves that is said to look like Hercules’s profile. The caves were used in Roman times to mine limestone to make millstones that would crush olives to make oil. 
One of the highlights of the day was a thrilling camel ride along the beach! Then we drove down to the old city of Tangiers where we got to walk through the colorful Berber market (Thursday is market day!) towards the Medina. We ate our lunch in an authentic Moroccan restaurant on ornate tapestry couches serenaded by local musicians and a belly dancer. 
Then we explored the abandoned Jewish section of the old city by walking down Rue Sinagoga that at one point had 17 shuls! We got to see 2 of the shuls: the majestic Nahon synagogue, built by a wealthy family in the late 19th century, where we prayed Mincha together, and the Rabbi Akiva shul, built In 1902. We also had the opportunity to pray at the grave of Rabbi Habib Toledano in the ancient Beit Hachayim. Then we had some free time to shop and bargain in the souk. Then it was back to the border for our ferry back to Spain. We then boarded the bus for our final destination - Gibraltar - where we will be spending the weekend. One day, two continents, three countries!!! What an awesome day!!