After a hot bath last night in a sexy looking tub that was a devil to get in and out of, I slunk into bed and slept like a dead man. Wake up call: 8:30. Boy was I glad I had bathed the night before because I woke up to no electricity, no hot water, and a husband itching for a shower. Long story short, I met Cyd and Barb for breakfast at 9:30, as planned, and Dan spent the morning in a hotel robe supervising an electrician who had to remove a panel from the ceiling in order to restore the electricity. The room was in working order; Dan was showered and dressed, but hungry; and we were on the street ready to take on Casablanca by noon.
We were strolling toward our first stop of the day when it started to rain. Although we couldn’t have been gone a half hour, we stopped for a drink to wait out the downpour. What a hoot of a stop it turned out to be. Ali approached us to take our order: one water, one cappuccino, and two Moroccan teas. When our drinks were served (with delicious biscotti) Ali asked where we were from and shared that he had studied English as a second language in Boston in a program for international business people. He was fun, funny, and engaging and the tea was delicious. When we commented on the tea he explained the secret procedure. First hot water is poured over tea leaves. They rest for perhaps 30 seconds to leach the bitterness out of the tea. Then the water is poured off, the pot is stuffed with fresh mint leaves, a sugar cube is put on top, and then more hot water is added. Once strong enough, the tea is served in tiny, four ounce glasses. We relaxed and chatted until the rain quit, settled the tab with a $5 bill, bid farewell to Ali, and continued our stroll toward the Atlantic coast. Destination: Mosque Hassan II, third largest mosque in the world.
Mosque Hassan II was completed in 1993 and has a capacity of 25,000 inside and 80,000 outside! It boasts the tallest minaret in the world, a magnificent partially retractable roof, and…if you can imagine…is, in part, built over the ocean! It is spectacular in every way! We lucked into an English language tour which included the magnificent prayer hall as well as the area where the men wash before prayers (ablution room). We were each given a small bag to carry our shoes since they are never worn in the prayer hall. The mosque and grounds were impeccably clean and very impressive. There was a call to prayer over the loud speaker and devout Muslims arriving to participate as we were leaving the beautiful courtyard in front of the mosque.
We decided to check out a small, old market area next, but when we asked for directions we were advised to take a cab rather than to walk. As if by magic a cabbie found us. Was it the map and confused looks on our faces that gave us away? We settled on 100 dirhams ($10), which I am sure was way too much, but in the end we got our money’s worth in spades! On the way to our destination, the very friendly, fun (must be in Moroccan DNA) cabbie pulled over and said he would be glad to wait if we wanted to browse in a fun shop. We jumped out, ran in, and were overrun by friendly, English speaking rug salesmen. We got a quick tutorial on Berber orphan girls being taught the art of rug making. They grow up and teach others, humma, humma and by then we had lost the story line completely and were staring at piles of beautiful rugs. Barb made the mistake of saying a runner might be fun in her house and we were off and running, if you know what I mean. Long story short: we had a blast (and tea) and left on a first name basis lugging 3’ x 9’ agave silk runners ‘of the highest quality.’ Once Barb settled on hers at one third the asking price, I jumped in and asked if it would be a better price if Dan and I bought one also. No, no, no, that would be asking too much of them. In time the price went down $75 more for each rug and they were telling us they barely had enough to buy themselves a coffee. Our salesman asked if I, by chance, had a tip for him since he had given me such a good price. I said yes: “For all things be grateful.” He burst out laughing and gave me a big, affectionate shoulder squinch.
Guess who was waiting for us when we came out? Our cabbie. We assumed the rug guys had paid him, but no. It was 6:00 p.m. by this time so we asked where we could get good food. Off we went in the direction of authentic, reasonably priced food. We paid him the agreed upon price; he indicated we might consider sweetening the pot since he had done so well for us; Dan said no; I said the rug people owed him big time …and…wait for it… Barb gave him $3. Dinner was delicious so maybe he deserved the extra. Barb and I had delicious chicken tagine; Cyd had couscous and chicken; and Dan had grilled chicken and rice. Chicken ruled in other words.
We decided to walk back to the hotel in spite of the fact that it was dark and we were fuzzy on how to do that in spite of the fact that we had a map. We asked for course corrections three times (no street signs) and made it just fine. It was fun to see all the street vendors out with everything from soup to eggs to fruit; a singer and guitar player entertaining a crowd; and best of all a relatively large cement area where little children drove electric cars and three wheeled bikes their parents had rented. They were so cute! We spotted one dog and quite a few cats. We got back to the hotel at 9:00.
Our slow, bumpy start of a day was so much fun! Barb went to bed with two guide books to decide on tomorrow’s objectives, so I am excited to see what she suggests at breakfast tomorrow.
Morocco is the largest processor and exporter of sardines in the world.
This is day three for my jeans. Three days down with three to go.
Day one for my top. One down, two to go.
Morocco is slightly larger than California.
Morocco’s highest point is 13,665 feet; its lowest point is -180 feet below sea level.
Today was in the mid-60s with winds strong enough to blow off Cyd’s ball cap
a couple of times. We were all happy to have brought along a jacket.
5 thoughts on “Casablanca … day 1 (March 10, 2018)”
Great pictures! Even greater commentary! Educational and fun! Thank you!
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You will have to make mint tea for us. Sounds great.
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You are so good with your words mom my here are my favorite lines from this blog:
After a hot bath last night in a sexy looking tub that was a devil to get in and out of, I slunk into bed and slept like a deadman. Wake up call: 8:30.
Matt Mongeon | Senior Business Analyst
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Technology Team – Cox California
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Loved your storiesâ¦I also need a runner! Where are the photos..
I sent you an invitation to the photo stream a couple days ago. I just resent it … to your iPhone and to your email. Hope one works.