And finally awake
08.10.2014 85 °F
The road to Morocco was just a tiny bit less awful than I anticipated. Hanging out in airports is torture for some but for me it is an escape into anonymity and the time goes by. Airplanes are another matter entirely. They are prisons. After the first leg of the journey - the red-eye from OAK to JFK, I arrived in NYC in exactly the condition i'd anticipated: unrested and grouchy. That being the case, the tour of the 9/11 Memorial was exactly what I had expected also, taxing and arduous. I guess it is worth the trip, but mostly because you are compelled to go, not because you are particularly enlightened after having been.
When it was finally time to board the flight to Casablance, I was dead and dragging. When I approached the Royal Air Maroc desk, the words just tumbled out,"can I upgrade to Business class?" One of my fellow travelers, overheard me and said, "me too" So we did. I'll not disclose how much I invested to get a bit of sleep (in a completely reclined position), but it was worth it. I slept soundly for maybe four hours. The rest of the flight was spent eating decent food off of real dinnerware and drinking champagne. Wow.
OK. So here I am in the lobby/restaurant of our hotel in Casablanca. This town is pretty much what I expected- loud, bustling, colorful, tacky. Since we arrived too early to check in, we were scooped up by a charming gentleman named Ranni. . . or at least that is the part I remember. Ranni is approx 50, and speaks four or five languages. He will be our guide for the rest of the trip. He took us (in a van) to a little museum in town. I'm not sure if that is the best they have to offer museum-wise, but it was in a former home and exhibited lots of beautiful glass and pottery objects collected by some local rich guy. It was interesting but not educating.
After we were finally able to check in, most of the ladies relaxed in the hotel, decompressing after their two full days of travel. Not I. I could not wait to set foot in The Medina. The Medina is the ancient original walled city. Narrow alleys of tacky little shops, one right after another, curl up a hill in a completely random way. The buildings are multiple stories with living quarters over the street level shops. Not all of the shops were open because of some holiday, but many were and many thin scraggly men hawked at me or leered at me as I walked by. I was a stand-out, the only blonde in the medina and the only woman not in a long skirt. That made me a bit uncomfortable, but there was nothing sinister about the place, at least to my eye. (although some will tell you that the medina is a good place to procure pharmaceuticals). I wandered up and down the alleys, taking it all in, careful to keep track of where the wall is so I'd be able to find my way out of it. I wasn't tempted by any of the silver platters, glass hookahs, leather bags, wooden carvings. I was enthralled by the bustle and the color. It was a bit like Tijuana, compressed. I hope to make my way back i to the medina before I leave, but if I don't, there will be others in Fez and Marrakech.
Off to tour the city. More later.