Friday, May 26, 2006

My original plan was to see Casablanca the day that I arrived and then to leave the next morning for Essouira, visiting some of the smaller towns along the way. Because of the suitcase debacle and the number of times that I got lost, however, I did not have very much time to see the city. In particular, I really wanted to see the Mosque of Hassan II. Because I was out late with Takir (and because I was jet-lagged) I slept in the next morning and went to see the mosque, which was absolutely amazing! (picture below)



(photo of mosque removed)


After the mosque, I took the obligatory two hours to navigate my way out of the city. All I can say is "merci dieu que je parle le français!" I don't know how I would have found my way otherwise, as few people on the street speak much English, and I was heavily reliant on the kindness of strangers (which there was in spades-the people here are amazingly friendly!) to navigate.

I finally made it to the highway and somehow managed to find Al Jadida. Al Jadida is a beautiful town on the coast. I was there for about five minutes, when, of course, I got lost. I asked a woman for directions, but she was from Casablanca and was actually looking for directions herself. She asked someone in Arabic how to get to the Portuguese Cistern (which is where I wanted to go) and gave me the directions. It turned out that she was going the same way, so I offered to give her a ride. We found parking and started to walk toward the medina when she confessed her story to me. She is a banker working in Casablanca. The day before she took the train and happened to sit next to a very famous Moroccan author whom she had seen on television a few times and greatly admired. She talked to him and they really hit it off; he invited her to Al-Jadida to attned a lecture he was giving there the next day and to spend the evening with him. She told me she felt that she was living a real-life Moroccan love story. We had lunch and I helped calm her nerves. At 3pm, she went to the lecture and I went to the cistern (which was closed until 3pm). I hope that she finds the happy ending she is looking for! Below is a picture of her.

(picture of Moroccan woman removed)

Anyhow, because of all of the delays, I did not have time to see Safi and did not arrive in Essouira until late at night. Consequently, I am taking today to see Essouira and am driving to Marrakech late afternoon. It all works out in the end, however, as part of the fun for me is meeting new people along the way! The drive from Casablanca to Essouira was also beautiful...

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