Trip Start Apr 28, 2007
Trip End Oct 26, 2007

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Monday, September 17, 2007

After our time in Essauoira Gary and Joy had a night in Marrakech, then flew back to UK, while Jen and Brian caught the train from Marrakech to Casablanca. The countryside is very stark, and it's hard to believe it can be farmed. Rangy sheep pick at mere wisps of grass, and we had been told that goats climbed up the argane trees to feed on the nuts but until Jen saw them for herself, it seemed very fanciful.

We arrived at the railway station after a 4 hour train trip, to spot the Hotel Ibis which looked particularly attractive after our Moroccan bathroom experiences so far, but we had booked into Hotel Central where James had stayed a few weeks earlier. This was on the edge of the Medina and on a square where the end of a Ramadan day was warming up. Jen could have done with a good western style bathroom, particularly after her experiences with a 2nd class loo on the train (we won't go into the details unnecessarily) but we stayed because the guy at reception was so friendly and helpful. He directed us to a very good restaurant, but when we finally got there it was shut for Ramadan. We (Brian) did eat there the next day - the full Moroccan feast after sunset, which seems to be part of the breaking of the fast during Ramadan. 
In Casablanca we visited the largest mosque outside Mecca, and the only one which non-Muslims may enter. With 20,000 metres of space there is room for 25,000 worshippers.  Are men more worshipful?  the fact is that downstairs there is room for 20,000 men and the 5,000 women that the Mosque Hassan II can accomodate must go upstairs.  It has the highest religious minaret in the world - over 200 metres high. Everyone in Morocco had to contribute according to their means, and construction took 6 years from 1987 - 1993. with 2,500 workers and 10,000 craftsmen working 24 hours a day on it.  It is quite simply mindboggling - in a modern interpretation of the mediaeval European cathedrals, sort of a way.

For the rest of the day we were up to little more than lounging on a rather average beach, the Ain Daib, and noting that the local women didn't really "do" beaches other than in full length and decorous dress.

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