Monday, November 14, 2016

7 Hours in Casablanca

I had two choices when booking my trip to Burkina Faso: a 2 hour layover in Casablanca or a 7 hour layover in Casablanca. The choice seemed obvious. There is a train from the airport and no visa is required, so with a bit of planning i figured i could pull off a quick visit to the city. And so i did.

Everything fell into place. Bag checked straight through, flight on time, no line at immigration, easily found the train which was just pulling into the station. About a half an hour later, past rural areas and industrial zones, i was at Casa Voyageurs Station. Form there i bought a ticket for the tram and took it 5 stops to the old medina, which was the area which most interested me.

The signs were now in French and Arabic. The weather, thankfully, was in the 20s and sunny. Everything was busy. People bustling about dressed in everything from traditional Moroccan clothes, to American outfits. People were selling nuts, water, coconuts, popcorn, balloons, and a collection of odds and ends. And that was even before reaching the medina. Outside the main gate of the medina was a water seller dressed in the traditional costume, offering brass cups of cold water to passersby. I tried to surreptitiously take his picture, but he saw me, smiled, waved me over, posed for a selfie, and then put his hat on my head. He refused to take any money.

Once inside, i was welcomed by every salesman and would-be guide. People were friendly even when i made it clear i was not buying. One fellow walked with me for a while and we chatted about movies and music and he pointed out some historical sights, which was nice, as he did so even after i said i didn't want a guide and wouldn't be paying. A couple of guys weren't so great and there was a bit of 'accidental' groping, but it wasn't the end of the world; i admonished them harshly and they scurried off. I had a good time, wandering the alleys past people selling produce, spices, clothing, house wears, and carpets. People were gutting fish, tending to chickens, cutting hair, smoking, and drinking coffee. Tucked into the commercial enterprises were mosques, cafes, and doors and passageways leading where i know not.

I tried to keep track of where i turned so i could find my way out of the labyrinth. That was a folly, but eventually (through nothing but luck) i made my way outside the wall and back to where i started. I thought about taking a taxi to see the big mosque but i was mindful of the time, so instead i just wandered around some more and then sat down on the patio of a nice cafe, where i smoked a Bolivar Belicoso Fino and watched the sun set and the rise of what i understand to be some sort of super moon.

Back at the airport, via the same route in reverse, through customs and awaiting my flight. From Brussels to Morocco and now to Burkina Faso. Big day. Posts to follow from Ouagadougou (internet permitting).

1 comment:

Alan Forsythe said...

As you were walking out onto the tarmac to catch your plane out of Casablanca were you joined by a charming Frenchman, and after a brief chat did you decide, 'I think this may be the start of a beautiful friendship.'