Tag Archives: One Africa

Colourful Casablanca

Yesterday’s adventure involved changing hotels. It would seem I am not very good at picking hotels from booking.com. Perhaps I should just look for the Ibis in any town I’m in danger of nomading through? But, you tend not to interact with the culture of a place when you’re staying at a “proper” hotel and culture really is the point. I enjoyed spending the night at the Old Medina but my lodgings left much to be desired.

I got lost looking for the new hotel. All precautions were taken, including the Google Maps download. Eventually, the taxi driver dumped me—said “ah, it’s just over there” and pleaded traffic. And there I was on Rue Moulay Yusef unable to interest another driver in my stuff and me. That said, I was propositioned by marketers marketing other hotels and spas… The girls in Casablanca are very pretty, alhamdulillah. I deny no favours of my Lord.

Settled into the new hotel on Rue d’Azail but was unable to summon the strength to do any exploring.

This morning, I tried to go to the bazaar part of the Old Medina but gave up the effort. It was unimpressive—less interesting than Rabat, incomparable by any means to Marrakesh. Then I plotted coordinates for the United Nations building but all my effort at saying “Place des Nations Unies” in an appropriate French Arabic accent got met with a universal urban taxi driver huh? Sensing defeat, I respected myself, withdrew the intention and settled to go see the Corniche.

We passed the Hassan II mosque already rhapsodized about HERE and the Phare d’Hank lighthouse then turned into a splendid ocean walk. I walked it all, punctuating that with photo-taking (and catching a breath), ate junk food at a McDonalds, had mint tea at a restaurant, and shopped at the Anfaplace mall.

On my way back that I realize—Casablanca truly is colourful. It is the city of chic and style. Casablanca is the city of people who just wanna have fun and sometimes, I can be that people.

I did not like Casablanca at first sight, but it does have its charms. And, the work the Moroccan government is doing with upgrading its port infrastructure reiterates the fact that Morocco is a destination for the African businessperson. The King, like Comrade Paul Kagame, is exactly the sort of leader Africa’s youth should rally around in the slow but necessary process of creating a new African market.

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At the Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Hassan 2 mosque
Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

It is quite impossible to capture the Hassan II mosque in #Casablanca. Perhaps because my camera is rather limited and not being a professional, I was unable to find the right angle? Further, the ornate grandeur of both scale and design humbles the person, affects the eye…

Here is my best shot.

It was closed for renovation today. You can see the scaffolding. The minaret is 600 plus feet high and I was told it’s one of the biggest mosques in the world. The courtyard is massive and I can imagine the denizens of Casablanca praying here in orderly, colourful rows.

First impression was to not like Casablanca. It seemed a let down from Marrakesh—missing my train station didn’t help. But Casablanca does have its charms. The mosque is by the corniche, which I could not walk because I got a call from Naija. I will go there. There is a lot of development going on at the Marina. Urban renewal, urban maintenance everywhere you go.

 

Lost and Found in Morroco

June 30
Dinner at the Marrakesh Medina

The bane of the Nigerian traveller must be his bank issued Visa dollar card failing to work in a foreign country! Be rest assured I will call them first thing Monday and do some yelling. What saved me was a spare $100 I had else I wouldn’t have been able to pay for the hotel.

In changing said paper to #Moroccan dirhams (MADs), I took an adventure into the old city where I’m staying, in a bid to find a bureau de change. I managed to get lost promptly, found a bureau de change by mistake and got the MAD.

Though still lost, I decided to get dinner. Ordered this. About $6. Tasted okay but meh. But then, I was damn hungry!

How did I get “home”?

I’d downloaded the Google Maps for #Marrakech so I could use it offline. Just on a whim. It proved faithful where GT Bank failed me. I was able to amble about (longer days, shorter nights) and when in the general area, asked a group of kids who led me to the door.

Today’s lesson? Google Maps gets thumbs up. (Unnamed Nigerian) Bank gets a howl of outrage.

Good night.

– Ra.

On The Rabat – Marrakesh Line

tra
One the Rabat – Marrakesh line

So, the decision to travel from #Rabat to #Marrakech by train was one of the best I’ve made. Very comfortable 2nd class cabin for $13, about a four hour trip.

Got a sense of #Morroco and its people. The kingdom is rapidly expanding its railways and transportation infrastructure. One senses a country of optimism and ambition to expand its stake in Africa. Nigeria can only cope if we get our act in order and fast.

Else, I’ll flip nationalities. Become #Rwandan or something.

Will share my photos. Here’s a selfie meantime, I was aiming for Indiana Jones as Nerdy Professor.

Wrote a new poem, the sketch of a travel piece as well as of a blog post so a very productive trip too.

– Ra.