February 27, 2011
So I am going to try to blog a little bit every day about what we are doing in Morocco. I decided this would be a lot better than trying to do it all at once like I did with my Germanic trip with dad. I do need to emphasize the fact that I am going to TRY to do this. Here’s hoping…
Today was our first day in Morocco. Much like Spain, I knew I wanted to go but I didn’t really have any expectations. I think I figured since it was in North Africa, it would be mainly desert with a few oasis like cities. WRONG. Flying into Casablanca today from Paris, after we passed Gibraltar we saw field after field of green pastures. And some donkeys. Although we mainly saw those from the car.
Once we landed, we had to go through customs. Again, I hadn’t given it much thought, but I didn’t think they would be that strict here with getting us through immigration considering how at CDG all I have to is show them my passport and I’m through. Here, they read the card u fill out (general info like why you’re coming, where you’re staying, etc.), stamp that form, stamp your passport, then enter all that info on the computer. It takes every person about two minutes. And they had about have of the customs windows open, so it took them FOREVER. And this was on top of our plane being an hour delayed leaving Orly.
After getting through customs, we could go meet our driver and guide. But we figured we should change some money first (and by we I mean the people that actually have any money to change. Needless to say I didn’t). I said I would go meet our guide and driver while JoAnn, Miriam and Dad changed money. JoAnn had made all the arrangements so she said that they should be waiting for us with a plaque saying Matthiesen.
I walk out from the baggage claim area and found them. I didn’t think it would take the rest that long since all they had to do was get money exchanged because we had all taken carry ons. I was wrong. I sat there awkwardly for about fifteen or twenty minutes with the two guys. After exchanging the initial pleasantries, I kind of didn’t know what to say so I didn’t.
Then everyone came out and we hopped into our Mercedes Minivan to go on a quick tour of Casablanca. Everyone told me you could skip Casa because there isn’t much to see. They are right. BUT they didn’t mention the Mosque there. Our guide let us get around and walk up to the doors of it. He was describing it. Apparently it is the third largest Mosque in the world (behind Mecca and El Medina in Saudi Arabia). Construction was started in 1987 and completed in 1993. They have the largest minaret in the world at two hundred meters tall. It is truly a sight to behold. The coolest part though is that it is literally build over the ocean. It kind of juts out into the surf and there are windows that allow the worshippers to see the waves crash. There are also glass panels in the floor that show the holy fountains where the Muslims wash before praying.
After seeing the Mosque, we took a little jaunt through the city center where our guide said we could stop and take a picture. When we got there we saw a bunch of police officers and some military guys. There was a demonstration going on. Our guide just kept us going and didn’t stop. A little while later JoAnn asked what that was and he told us it was a demonstration. We figured that he didn’t want to let us stop there because I think they want to downplay the demonstration stuff here…
Basically after that we were on our way to our Riad here in Rabat. It was a good hour and a half drive from Casablanca to our Riad, but boy is it worth it. I’ve never stayed at a Riad before, but basically its like an oversized B&B or a small hotel. But this one is incredibly nice. JoAnn, Dad and JoAnn’s mother are on this trip so I think they wanted to kind of go towards the nicer end of things while here. And I am A OK with that.
We got to the Riad abour 7:00PM and went to our rooms. At 7:30PM we had our dinner reservation in the restaurant. In true five star style, this restaurant delivered on their food. We started with traditional bruschetta and cheese plate appitzers. Except that was not traditional. At least he bruschetta wasn’t. It had some kind of poultry mixed in with it. I think it was duck. All I know is that all bruschetta from now on should have duck mixed in with it. For my dinner, I decided to go with a traditional Moroccan Tagine dish. This one was lamb. And holy jesus was it delicious. It was cooked in its own broth but with these apples that were spiced with the perfect amount of cinnamon and god knows what else. It was fantastic.
And now I am sitting in my room about to go watch some good ole fashion French TV. We are off to take a tour of Rabat tomorrow morning and then drive to a city I will need to learn how to spell tomorrow evening!