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3. Casablanca

Commercial and exotic

sunny 80 °F

Today our guide (whose name is "Amaranni" but to whom some of us refer as "Armani" - not because of his clothing, but maybe because he has a certain style) took us for a tour of Casablanca, most especially the Hassan II Mosque. This mosque is very new (as mosques go) having been opened only 20 years ago or so. It is huge, the third largest in the world. And it is absolutely beautiful. I get so sick of touring mosques and cathedrals sometimes. . . . but this was spectacular. While it is very modern, it is also incredibly detailed. Instead of many colors of tiles, the giant building is built of taupe colored and moss colored marble. The mosque accomodates 25 thousand worshipers: 20 thousand men and 5 thousand women. Muslim men and women do not worship together. I guess women are too distracting. Too bad the Prophet Muhammad didn't instruct his male followers to grow up.

Afterward, we rode around the town touring neighborhoods and government buildings and when it was time for lunch, he dropped us off at a mall with a food court. I know, wierd. Poor Armani doesn't get American women "of a certain age" . When you travel that far, you're not shopping at a mall. A few of us found a Turkish kebab place and had an OK lunch but couldn't have cared less about the stores.

That wasn't the only time Armani got it wrong . . . .bless his heart. Guides like to praise all the ways that their government has made so much progress toward women's rights. Armani was explaining how their First Lady is so modern and is very concerned about women's health issues. For instance, she has been a big proponent of cancer screening of "the tits and hymen". No, I am not kidding. He said that. Not a one of us said a word. We all just nodded approvingly and listened respectfully. Later, Rosemary said she looked around and saw that not a one of us flinched and she said a little prayer that no one would giggle. Of course, he was just trying to be very clinical - a Muslim man surrounded by fifteen women. And you have to acknowledge that English is only his third or fourth language. . . . .but still. Anyway, Rosemary is going to gently talk to him about a better choice of words.

When the tour was over, four of us ventured into the Medina to roam and take pictures. Most of the ladies are a bit too delicate for such a gritty neighborhood. And it is gritty. It's crowded and poor with shop after tiny shop bursting with shiny and colorful inventory. No one bought a thing, it's hard to want to barter over merchandise that could so easily be cheap fakes. So we merely experienced the exotic atmosphere, and then returned to the hotel for a glass of wine and a toast to tits and hymens.

This evening we had dinner at Rick's Cafe. This tourist trap is owned by an American woman and serves pretty good food in a 1930's Casablanca atmosphere. It was something we had to do. What self-respecting tourist would walk away from a chance to run into Bogart or Bacall? In truth, we had a great time there, but that was because of the company.

I should be asleep by now. Tomorrow we need to pack and get on the road to our next stop, Fez. I love Morocco so far, and from what I hear, I'll love it more in Fez.

Posted by Follow Carol 17:19 Archived in Morocco

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