I had considered trying for a seven AM bus, but by the time I got out of bed, packed, had breakfast with Amy and Ted and walked to the bus it was 11:30. While packing I decided to go for a minimalist approach and left almost everything, taking only a small duffel with a couple changes of clothes, my sleeping bag, and toilet kit - didn't even bring my boots.
My plan was to head for Larache, via Ouazzane if necessary, then tomorrow or the next day head to Tangier or Tetouan before returning back to Chefchaouen from the North. Unfortunately, not only is there no direct bus to Larache, but the only way to get there by bus is via Tangier. Since I wanted to go south and come back through Tangier I decided to change plans. I thought about Rabat, but there were no more busses today. Finally decided to go to Tetouan and then Ceuta. There was a CTM bus to Tetouan leaving in ten minutes, but I couldn't find the man to sell me a ticket. Finally gave up and went out to the bus - just in time to watch it leave - five min early! So I decided to start with Ceuta, since there was a bus leaving for the border in 30 minutes.
Had to walk the last two and a half miles to the actual border. Could have taken a taxi, but the Mediterranean was so beautiful and the weather so nice (i.e. cool after Chefchaouen) that I chose to walk. At the border I waited in line for over two hours to get through the Moroccan formalities - incredible because there were only four people in front of me. Luckily the Spanish formalities were trivial.
On the Ceuta side walked another half mile or so to the city proper. The view of the island and the beach made for a fantastic walk. There's a large castle on the far end of the island, a beautiful fort on the near side, and a colorful cathedral. Ceuta is just barely an island. The moat-like channel that makes it so is maybe twenty feet wide. Once on the island and thus in the city proper the quest for a room began. Every hotel and Pension was full, demanded a three (or in one case two) night minimum, or demanded an outrageous price ($30 for a dirty, smelly, dark, and windowless room). I went through all but the most expensive hotel in the Lonely Planet's Morocco guide (and any others I happened upon) before finding a room. Still over $35, but at least it's nice and I have hot water. If this hotel hadn't had space available I was planing on turning back for Tetouan.
By this time I've been walking for almost six hours - with the two hour time change it's now ten o'clock. When I finally put down my small duffel - which has been hanging across my left shoulder the entire time - a muscle behind the abused shoulder knotted. A hot shower brought the pain to a tolerable level, but now I can hardly stand on my left foot - no idea what I did to it. I limped out of the hotel to Mc Donald's for diner (with a McBeer!) then back to the room just after midnight.
The city feels a lot like some of the European Mediterranean towns - Nice comes to mind. It also definitely feels like Spain (also reminiscent of San Sebastian), and it was with some shock that I remembered I was still in Africa. It seems like there is a lot of beauty here with the history and the beaches - still, can't say I'm all that impressed with Ceuta. I was going to stay another night, but between my lack luster opinion, and this hotel being completely booked tomorrow I've decided to head back into Morocco and check out Tetouan.