Tangier's small medina is a delight to walk around, and in the past few years has shed its sleazy image and taken on the vibrant, tourist-friendly atmosphere of other, better-known medinas in the country. Rue Siaghine and rue de la Marine are now lined with souvenir shops, and the lanes up to the kasbah are becoming well trodden by wandering travelers. The few sights and noteworthy shops are easy to find, but if this is your first visit to Morocco and you're feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of having to negotiate the medina's alleys and lanes, contact Saïd Nacir (tel. 0671/045706; www.d-destination.com), a Tangier specialist. There's not much to see in the ville nouvelle, but as always there are a few good people-watching spots.
A Grave Society
The whitewashed Church of Saint Andrew, dedicated to the patron saint of Scotland but regularly flying the cross of Saint George, was built in 1894 and consecrated in 1905. The interior has a wonderful ceiling of carved cedar and an Arabic version of the Lord's Prayer around the chancel arch. A walk through the shaded gravestones bears witness to an isolated, aged community where burials were frequent and marriages were rare. After noting the sheer number of titled persons -- sirs, ladies, envoys, vice consuls, knights, commanders, and the like -- one can begin to understand the wealthy exclusive club that this particular expat community cocooned themselves in as late as the 1980s.
Saint Andrews is at the bottom of rue d'Angleterre. The caretaker, Mustapha, lives on-site and is usually around to open the church for visitors; otherwise, Sunday service is at 11am. The grounds are always open. British aristocratic society aside, some of the more colorful characters laid to rest here include:
- Caid Sir Harry Maclean (1848-1920). Descended from an ancient and noble Scottish family, Maclean served in H.M. armed forces before resigning his commission in 1876 to enter the service of the then sultan of Morocco, Moulay Hassan I.
- Dean (d. 1963), owner of Dean's Bar and buried with a simple gravestone saying "Missed by all and sundry," was a popular bartender in the El Minzah Hotel, and his clients moved with him when he opened his own bar around the corner. The bar, at 2 rue Amérique du Sud (daily 9am-11pm), is still open today, albeit lacking any of the character of its heyday.
- Emily Keene (1849-1944), also known by her official title as Her Highness the Sherifa of Wazan, was born in Britain and came to Tangier as governess for a local household, where she fell in love with and married His Highness Moulay Abdeslam ben Alarbi, the Grand Sherif of Wazane (the town, also spelled Ouezzane, is on the southern edge of the Rif mountains). A wise woman, she made the marriage conditional upon the sherif not taking any additional wives. When he did just that, she enforced the contract conditions and lived the rest of her days in relative luxury in Tangier. She founded the first school in North Africa for Muslim girls and introduced the smallpox vaccine to Morocco.
- Jay Haselwood (1914-66) hailed from Kentucky and served in France during World War II before making his way to Morocco and eventually to Tangier. A notorious gossip, Haselwood was known as Radio Tangier.
- Paul Lund (1915-66) was imprisoned in Italy for a time after a shootout with the Italian Coast Guard. Upon release he returned to Tangier and managed a bar on the Petit Socco. He was almost deported in the late 1950s along with the American writer William Burroughs after involvement in a drug scandal.
- Walter Harris (1866-1933), a British author and longtime Morocco correspondent of The Times, wrote many articles on Morocco and several travel books.
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