Monday, February 2, 2009

Into Africa

My first time on the African continent and the sixth of seven continents to touch down upon. One to go (Australia), but in the spirit of staying in the moment…
My favorite memory is of the Men in Black that stood stiff-backed and ominous inside and outside the hotel in Casablanca, the cords of their white earbuds trailing into the pockets of their dress shirts and covered by black suits. (Sorry, no pictures.)

They lent a true sense of adventure to the trip, though Morocco is one of the safer countries for US citizens visiting Africa. They also saved me from being price gouged by the red-taxi drivers, though on return trips to the hotel I benefitted from no such protection.

Visitors to Morocco ought to choose a city other than Casa Blanca if they want a true sense of the country, but I never ventured farther than the mosque, Rick’s Café, and the medina (the old market) just across the street from the hotel.
If you ever visit, be sure to drop by the mosque, but if you want to go inside, check the hours because there are only a few hours on specific days when visitors are allowed inside the mosque. But even from the outside the architecture is stunning and the tower rises above all the other buildings in the city.

Women are expected to pay particular attention to their manner of dress when they reach puberty, but this can be interpreted in many different ways, from a simple head covering to leaving only the hands visible.

Casablanca is a cosmopolitan city situated on the Atlantic Ocean, with lots of sun, good restaurants, an old and a new medina, a modern (possibly the most modern) mosque, and the unforgettable Rick’s Café from the movie named after the city. But my favorite memories continue to be the red taxis and the Men in Black.

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