Casablanca and Closing Comments on Morocco

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

We said:

Don't Play it Again Sam...

The final Moroccan city we visited was Casablanca. Too bad this is our last stop in Morocco; it kind of left us with a bad taste that was completely unlike our other experiences in this nation. It is certainly is not anything like the movie, it is very much a "big city: with all the trash, slums, noise and grit that goes along with that. According to our guidebook, the actual movie Casablanca wasn't even filmed in Morocco, all of it was shot in Florida! We certainly believe it, romantic is about the last term we'd use to describe this place. We arrived here in the afternoon and visited the only real site of tourist interest, which is the stunning Hassan II mosque. It is one of the largest (and most technologically modern) mosques in the world. It was a very impressive structure, too bad the rest of the city was a bit of a letdown, quite dirty, rushed, and unpleasant. It is by far the least "Moroccan" and place we have seen here so far, but still the people we have dealt with here have been quite friendly. After twelve days here we are probably a bit "Morocco-ed Out" and looking forward to moving on in our journey.

Our closing comments, observations, and a few questions.

Morocco is very easy to travel in logistics-wise. Busses and trains (in 1st class) are very comfortable and efficient. Hotels are generally very clean and of good value. The Lonely Planet Guide to Morocco was invaluable to us!

Understanding a bit of French will help you a lot! But most people who regularly deal with tourists speak at least some English (except cabbies!)

It is not dirt cheap, but still a great value compared to the US or Europe. Our hotels have cost $35.00-$55.00 per night for double rooms with en suite bathrooms. A decent restaurant/café meal costs between $5.00-$15.00 per person.

In our experience, the Moroccan people were very friendly and quite hospitable in every way. We never felt threatened, harassed, or cheated. Although in Fes we did encounter a rather pushy teen that wanted desperately to be our "unofficial guide". We shrugged him off after a few minutes, but he was the only exception.

Morocco being a Muslim nation could not be more different than the images many Americans see on the news of Islamic nations. In our experience it was a very tolerant place and as non-Muslims we were treated in a respectful and welcoming manner. All that is required is a bit of modesty in dress for both men and women, as well as a little advance reading on proper etiquette and customs.

There are a great number of really interesting and unique handicrafts and decorative items that are made and sold here. If we were coming home right now we would have bought a lot of stuff for our home.

Don't stay in Casablanca any longer than you have to.

Some of the things we couldn't quite figure out were:

Why do Moroccans not eat the cone when they get ice cream? Once the ice cream is eaten the cone is generally thrown into the gutter.

Why do they have parking attendants to personally collect parking fees on every single city block? Seems like it would be a bit more economical to have parking meters!!!

Why do towns have so many "teleboutiques" (stores filled with pay by the minute phone booths)? If so few people have home phones that thousands of these places can stay in business, then who is everyone calling?

Why doesn't anyone sit in his or her assigned seat on a train? Most times when we rode trains we witnessed an argument where a person entered the compartment and indignantly said the current occupant of a seat was sitting in their space and made them move, only later in the journey to have the exact same thing happen to them by the true ticket holder for the seat! There were several times where we were the only occupants of the compartment in our assigned place!

Why is it socially acceptable for men to clip their toenails while drinking or dining at sidewalk cafes? We observed this at least once a day!

And our biggest question about Morocco: Why do so few Americans visit this wonderful country? We met Brits, Aussies, French, Dutch, and Germans, but only heard American accents maybe four or five times during our entire stay.

- Katie and Todd
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