Trip Start May 14, 2007
10Trip End May 30, 2007
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We got in our van and took off for Marrakech. Again, the drive south was beautiful. There are olive trees everywhere. You can start to see the landscape becoming more arid. Our first stop was the capital city of Rabat to see the mausoleum where the current king's father and grandfather are buried. The adjacent mosque was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. Some of you may remember that Randy and I were warned when we went to Thailand that we may come across some toilets that are simply holes in the floor. Never did see those in Thailand but got to experience it in Morocco starting in Rabat. I can handle anything now. While in Rabat we drove by the American Embassy. Let me tell you it was really good to see the old US of A flag flying. Makes us proud to be Americans.
Our next stop south is Casablanca. Gotta' see Rick's Cafe you know. (For all you youngsters out there Rick's Cafe is from the movie Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Oh good grief, go ask your parents.) Anyway, Casablanca also has the only mosque in the world that non-muslims can get into and we really wanted to see it.
We were told by more than one person not to spend the night in Casablanca. They said it was not the safest place to be. It is much more modern looking than Tangiers and Fes and we found it reminded us of a typical California beach city. I think if we ever come back to Morocco we may spend a night in Casablanca. We drove by Rick's Cafe; it's just a white building housing a cafe and has "Rick's Cafe" sign. We're not dumb enough to think it was the one in the film (the film was probably totally shot on a Hollywood backlot anyway) but at least we got a picture of it.
Our next stop was the mosque. We have conflicting data here as we were told by one person it was the second largest mosque in the world and by another person it was the third largest - the largest being in Mecca. Our English speaking guide made sure everyone was appropriately dressed; a couple girls had very short sleeved T-shirts on and had to cover up. We had to take off our shoes when we were inside on the carpeting. The place is huge and impressive. During Ramadan they get as many as 20,000 worshippers inside and another 80,000 outside. 2,500 workers and 10,000 craftsmen worked 24/7 to complete it. Randy and I were honored to be allowed to go inside.
We finally made it to Marrakech and were led to our Riad (hotel). There are only 5 rooms and we are on the second floor. This is the smallest room in our travels and a bit dark but still very charming. After checking in Abdul takes us to a huge square where caravans used to come to sell their wares. He tells us if we don't experience this square we have not experienced Marrakech. It is now dark outside and as we approach it appears there are thousands of people. There are small clusters of people everywhere gathered around dancers or fortune tellers or acrobats. At the far end of the square there are bright lights and Abdul tells us this is where we will have dinner. Each afternoon several outdoor kitchens are set up along with tables and chairs. Each vendor is beckoning you to eat at their "restaurant". After dinner we walk back to our hotel as we are exhausted from the long drive and all the various sights.
It has been another awesome day in Morocco.
Interesting fact we just learned: Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States as an independent country in 1776.