Rabat (March 13, 2018)

No lazing around this morning! We had to be up, fed, and on the bus by 9:30. A stretch for us after our few slow mornings in Casablanca. We rose to the occasion, however, and had an enjoyable day in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

The standout stop for me was at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, father of Moroccan independence. Everything about the mausoleum was magnificent from the twelve-sided, painted mahogany dome to the marble sarcophagus to the beautifully tiled walls and floor. We arrived just as the changing of the guard was about to take place. With no preamble of any kind two royal guards on horseback arrived to replace the two horses with riders who had been standing in a small sandy box for the previous hour and a half. The guards were decked out in red uniforms with white capes, white gloves, and red, white, and green hats. The horses were matched pairs and beautiful.

We also explored Chellah, the ruins of an ancient Roman outpost. It is home to beautiful gardens, tombs, ruins, 45 cats, and 75 stork nests. The storks winter here and were very visible and boisterous. It was explained to us that Moroccans by far prefer cats to dogs because they are quiet unlike dogs whose barking disturbs the angels.

We had a brief stop at one of at least a dozen Royal Palaces in various cities in Morocco. The beautiful one here is situated on many well manicured acres. On the compound was a residential area for the 500 ‘servants’ needed to keep things running smoothly. A surprise to us was learning that affairs of government are handled at palaces; the king does not live in them.

A stop we would have liked to extend a bit was one in the old kasbah (walled town/city) which has the Atlantic on the west and the Bou Regreg River on the north. There were loads of colorful small boats, some painted with stripes, minding their own business. The walls date back to the 12th century.

Our last stop, which was optional, was to meander around the Medina for a couple of hours. We chose to do that expecting the colorful, clean, busy Medina like the one we had explored in Casablanca. This one was worth a stroll but quite a contrast in that it definitely caters to a poorer clientele. The wares were simpler and the walkways, which were being repaired in places, were pretty much broken concrete or just rutted dirt. We stopped to watch a young man cook, one after another, what we took to be sheets of a phyllo-type pastry. It looked like tedious, hot job.

As we were heading back to the hotel, Barb jokingly asked two young Moroccan gals if they wanted to take our picture. Get it? Since we had taken so many pictures of Moroccans. We laughed and they did too. Long story short, they chatted us up, with me as translator, and it was one laugh after another. We mentioned we were old and they said no, no, no, we are fun and happy, not old. We said we were happy because we are old in contrast to being dead. More laughs. It ended with them telling us we would always be welcome in their town and they would make a party for us. Barb exchanged phone numbers with them, we kissed! good by, and posed for pictures which Barb has already shared with them.

Barb, Cleone, Sandy, and I decided to take advantage of the spa’s special price (300 dirhams) on the ‘full ritual, including hammam scrubbing and rassul’ even though we had no idea what we were buying. Translation: we got naked and were bathed, shampooed, and exfoliated. Mud was involved as well as a bag of bubbles. All in a steamy hot room. The challenge: not to slide right off the wet marble table onto the wet marble floor when it was time to roll over or move to the bench while your partner in crime (in my case Sandy) took her turn on the table.

The French decided to make Rabat the capital of Morocco in 1912.

Rabat was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2012.

Much of ‘Black Hawk Down’ (2001) was filmed in Rabat.




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