Tag Archives: Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca, Real Madrid, Etc.

19 Feb

It is almost incomprehensible that I have not written in almost three weeks for my blog. The time is passing in two speeds, the tiresome daily drawl that exists anywhere you put effort into your work, and that speed in which you look backwards and try to figure out how it went so quickly. It moves like the wind, slow on the surface, and like a bullet the further you rise up. Sometimes this needs to be taken into account, and you just have to find an hour to sit on a park bench and do absolutely nothing…

These past few weeks have flown by. The stress of Arabic and classes has normalized into the same grade worried stomach knotting experience that has typified my college career. The true stories now lie in the slowly developing comfort and the adventures that ensue of the aftermath of stupid statements like “Let’s go to Kenitra…No, I don’t know what we’re going to do when we get there…”

Last weekend was one that will forever etch a need for foresight into my memory. After a bar-filled evening of the most dingy, and literally fascinating experiences of my life, concluding with a McDonalds McArabiya and fries, I decided to convince a select few to hop a train to Kenitra, a beach town 40 minutes north of Rabat, with no plan, minimal information, and nothing more than a vague idea in my head. In hindsight, not a good idea, but it was one of those experiences that has grown better with time.

A learning experience.

We get to Kenitra, and after 10 minutes it becomes clear that this is not Rabat. The out of place feeling pervaded more deeply than ever, and for the first time ever I truly came to the terms with being an outsider. Harassment and an exhausting amount of walking, we beat a retreat to Rabat without finding a way to the beach (a 15 minute drive from the town itself). After returning, the feeling of defeat slowly faded, and an overwhelming desire to make another outing with a little more foresight came to the top. This weekend was that redemption.

After a work-filled weekend evening (they suck even more abroad), I beat a hasty retreat to bed, chuckling about the earlier events of the evening (I made my first purchase of significance, a soccer jersey. I bought Ronaldo’s Real Madrid Jersey, the best prossibly fake jersey I have ever seen, for roughly $12, placing myself in the Madrid Camp in a Barcelona Stronghold. After being told that it was 130 Dirham, I wanted to tell him 50, instead, saying 15 in Darija. After a serious amount of laughing, and some discussion, I got the jersey for 100, and my little brother told everyone in the entire house the story of me getting the jersey, laughing hysterically when he got to the part when I said “Hemztache” (15)), and got ready for my early morning departure for Casablanca. The trip, and ensuing madness was just more of the same third-world harassment that has become just another part of the day. We walked around, coming upon uninteresting spot after uninteresting spot. We eventually made our way to the Mosque of Grandeur, the Hassan II Mosque, a mosque ranking 3rd in the world in size. The grandeur of this place has been unrivaled by any building I can recollect, and none of the pictures I could take captured the mass of this place. After the mosque grandeur, I took in a warm sun-soaked day by the Ocean, basking in the fact that, yes, it was in fact the beginning of February. Upon our retreat to the Hostel, we ran into problems… hearing horror stories of passport theft, I left my passport at home thinking it was wise… ooops. I eventually found out that I needed my Moroccan entry number to sign into the hotel, the number stamped in my passport. Luckily I was one of three in this conundrum, so set out with an address given to us by the uptight and evil old man of the Hostel, and made our way to the central precinct of Casablanca. Upon arriving at a large granite and plaster building, we maneuvered our way through many Casablancan police officers to a decrepit interior of the precinct to a room literally lined, yes lined, with forms much like the one we needed to fill out for the hostel. Tourist Police are a big deal here… We managed through our speech fine thanks to French fluency on the part of my companions, and actually had a conversation with the police office worker filling out our numbers for us (I scraped through this process on a NY State ID…….needless to say it was a stressful evening). After a quick revel in what we had just accomplished, we beat a triumphant retreat to the Hostel and relaxed. What followed that was a night of Paella, sketchy weird bars, and more of the same Moroccan experience that I have grown to love. After a good night, we slept, and made a much more triumphant train ride home than we had taken back from Kenitra.

Casa Verdict: A city worth the visit and worth the experience, but nothing that would require another night in the city. I would give the city a visit without a doubt, but there is no need to linger in its atmosphere.

Comfort and a feeling of home set in upon my return to Rabat, and I finally felt like this place was becoming part of me, part of my life experience, and it felt good. Dare I say, Morocco feels a little like home now, another area to add to the list of comfort I have that I am determined to stretch across the globe. But… along with that has come a sense of boredom…something I am sure the desert will change for me on Monday.

Meshi Mushkil (Not a Problem)