Friday, 17 June 2011

Where church bells and prayer calls blend ….. June 2011

09 – 14  June 2011

After our disappointing one night stand in Morocco, we successfully navigated our way around the dredger and out of Marina Smir.  The breeze was still from the west so we had another comfortable sail in flat water on the beam the 10 miles up the African coastline before turning into the Straits of Gibraltar and motoring the last 2 miles to Ceuta.

Ceuta and Melilla are 2 Spanish enclaves located on the northern tip of the African Continent, both are harbours on the Med and share their land borders with Morocco.  As Ceuta was so near we decided to stop by and maybe explore Morocco from there.  The marina is not very big and it was packed full with a fleet of leisure fishing boats partaking in a 3 day competition, but the helpful staff found a spot for us and we were tucked up in no time.  The marina sits right under the palm lined promenade, handsome restored buildings line the streets, and a large fort dominates the centre.  It all has a well looked after and cared for feeling to it, with a definite blend of European, African and Arabic cultures.  P6090012 

Ceuta has been a Spanish enclave since 1640, and because of its strategic location guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea,  has a long history of various empires warring over it and many invasions over the centuries. 

The old city walls have been restored and make for an interesting outing, there are even information signs in English telling the gruesome story of a 33 year siege from 1694 that resulted in an outbreak of the plague and famine, resulting in countless deaths.  There is a small museum within the complex that was worth a wander through, I thought it interesting a display of how four different cultures lived here side by side, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews – what interested me was the photographical depiction of these 4 religions…women  in their cultural local dress, but the Christian woman was shown wearing sneakers, jeans and a white shirt – it some how just didn't look quite right alongside the other more colourful religious costumes….but probably quite accurate! 

We felt happy leaving Balvenie here a few days, we had neighbours to keep an eye on her, and calm weather was forecast.  We were only 2 miles from the Moroccan boarder, so it was out with the Lonely Planet and a short sojourn was planned.

For Cruising info for Smir (Morocco) click here and for Ceuta (Spanish enclave) cruising and land excursions in June 2011 click here

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