Mark Twain visited Africa on two separate journeys. This, his first visit, he writes about in "The Innocents Abroad". He actually visits the continent twice on this trip. At its furthest point he visits Egypt. Of course, in the world of fiction Tom, Huck and Jim take a balloon ride over the Sahara in "Tom Sawyer Abroad". Many years later Mark Twain visits South Africa, as written about in "Following the Equator".
On 30 June Clemens boarded a small steamer that crossed the strait to the port of Tangier in about four hours. With him were six other passengers: Slote, Jackson, Major James G. Barry, Frederick H. Greer, Colonel James Heron Foster, and Colonel Denny. They were accompanied by an English merchant named Redman, who spoke Arabic. They spent the night at the Royal Victoria Hotel and returned to the Quaker City at Gibraltar by 6:00 p.m. on 1 July, when the ship got under way for Marseilles (Charles Jervis Langdon, entry for 11 July; Charles C. Duncan 1867 [bib10641], entries for 30 June–1 July; Denny, entries for 30 June–1 July).
Tangier, Morocco, (Africa,) July 1, 1867
Half a dozen of us came here yesterday from Gibraltar, & some of the company ‸took the other direction‸ went up through Spain to Paris by rail. We decided that Gibraltar & San Roque were all of Spain that we wanted to see at present & are glad we came here among the Africans, Moors, Arabs & Bedouins of the desert. I would not give this experience for the all the balance of the trip combined. This is the infernalest hive of infernally costumed barbarians I have ever come across yet.
[in top margin, in pencil: I inclose Moorish coins of Tangier dated 1216 & 1268 of the Hegira.]
Clemens wrote the Alta California on 1 July, “They don’t coin much money nowadays, I think. I saw none but what was dated four or five hundred years back, and was badly worn and battered” (SLC 1867 [MT00558]). Clemens was mistaken, however, about the age of the coins he enclosed (which have not been found): because the Hegira—or Muhammadan era—began with Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina in a.d. 622, and because the Muslim calendar uses a lunar year (354 or 355 days), year 1216 of the Hegira began in May of a.d. 1801, and year 1268 began in October of a.d. 1851.