Casablanca is one of those metropolis known as a city of contrasts. There are elegant neighborhoods designed by French planners, villas compared with those in Beverly Hills, where rich youth in clubs buys a bottle of champagne for almost 1,000 euros (GDP per capita Morocco is 2,860 Euro), but also the slums, where leaves hundreds of thousands of families.
While Morocco is located in the center of the tourist map of the world, in Casablanca you won’t see many tourists. Thanks God! For most it is only compulsory stop on the way to Marrakesh or Fez. I wouldn’t come here on vacation either. After searching the Internet for this city before the flight, I didn’t expect much. Although I was looking forward to this destination. In the end I’ve never been to Morocco before, and also within the crew there was a charming Polish girl, thanks to which, as it turned out, this trip was so enjoyable :)
Morning wake up, map in hand and go! Quick breakfast in the city in the form of egg sandwich in the unidentified spice and we entered the marketplace. Oh how I love this atmosphere! Only locals, the people buying meat, vegetables, fruits, gossiping, shouting, laughing. Everyday life.
The most surprised me a large amount, mentioned above, of meat and I don’t mean, legs, breasts, or other parts poultry usually sold. Alive chickens! Everywhere chickens, roosters, hiding from the vendors who inadvertently caught them by the neck, laid on the scale and presented to potential customers a respectable weight of their goods.
Sun eventually came up from behind the clouds and we, dazed by smells of olives, oranges and hundreds of spices, sat down in a cafe with traditional Moroccan green tea. We continue to contemplate the ongoing life around us. Ladies covered from head to toe in abaya pass next to more liberal ladies preferring western style clothing and large deposits of makeup.
Another “the most” mosque
Visit at the market end up buying half a kilo of fresh strawberries that I had to eat alone. Klaudia didn’t want any because it wasn’t washed. I didn’t mind. We head towards the largest temple of Islam in Africa – King Hassan II mosque. Most of the way we spend with two 12th years old girls, which decided to talk to us about school, who they want to become and some facts about the country we’re coming from.
Another mosque built with the idea of the most most most. Agree, nice decoration, impressive size, the tour guide peppering the visitors hundreds of facts about the architectural flavor, large size, huge costs and the express pace of construction. What she didn’t say is that every Moroccan was forced to pay a financial donation to cover these costs. Also, slum residents who were displaced by force to make a space for construction.
Celebrities and groupies ;)
Residents of Casablanca proved to be very friendly and helpful. Again and again people smiled seeing us (or because of the beauty of my companion), welcomed in Morocco and kept asking where we come from. Very open-minded people, despite the rather conservative mores seen on the streets. However, the most willing to talk to us turned out to be a little younger ones. Again and again teenagers were approaching us starting conversation and asking for photo together.
After visiting the mosque we went for a long walk along the promenade of La Corniche. The sound of the waves, evenly aligned tall palm trees and bright white walls of the villas. Along the way we meet a group of students girls. These glancing at us giggling and whispering something. I said Salam alejkum what they burst out laughing. It’s like I’d said to the Polish teenager God bless or peace be with you. After a brief chat they ask if they can have a picture with us.
Later, groups of young people without any shame were coming to us and ask for a photo together. Both girls and boys. We agreed eagerly to requests. I won’t deny, it was quite nice :) Later we were wondering why was that. Maybe Casablanca it’s not one of the tourist points of Morocco, however, some travelers can be spotted here easily. In the end I think the reason was one – tall, blond haired Klaudia :)
City of contrasts
In an international melting pot, in which I currently live and work, I met many Moroccan girls and guys which the only thing different from Westerners, it’s not eating pork. But when it comes to style of dress, partying and customs, differences can’t be spotted. I was expecting similar views in Morocco. None of that. The vast majority of the population wear conservative attire. Couples don’t walk by hand and don’t show each other feelings by kissing or hugging.
But there are places where rich youngsters having fun in trendy nightclubs located in the elegant neighborhoods designed in French (Anfa) in the same way as people in the same age in New York, London or Warsaw. White houses, arranged side by side in a line, rows of palm trees, fountains show the influence of the French protectorate in past.
Strolling between the villas tucked behind lush flowers, you can feel like in Beverly Hills, or some other famous residential district.
But there are also slums, such as Sidi Moumen, where were recruited Islamic terrorists who carried out the biggest terrorist attack in the history of Morocco, in 2003 in Casablanca. Such buildings unfortunately I saw only from behind the glass of the tram. There was no time to go there, or maybe courage? ;)
Tajin, couscous, chickpea and sweets
Moroccan cuisine didn’t impressed me much. The most popular dishes are there Tajin – vegetable stew, couscous with vegetables and meat. I chose the latter option. Also Harira tasteless soup and salad with chickpeas. No admiration for their flavor dishes, didn’t prevent me gobble like a pig as usual.
But what it can marvel it’s their confectionery! Chocolates, roll-ups and cookies dripping with honey and icing. Although I was already full, the dessert came in smoothly.
And so my first visit to Morocco came to an end. Coming back to desert and fight with yourself to not fall asleep. The city was explored but by the cost of luck of sleep. So what, it was worth it.