Tag Archives: casablanca

March 5th, you little s**t.

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Ever have one of those Mondays that leave you so disoriented and tired that all you can think to do by the end of it is sit on your bed eating Mister Choc with the blunt end of a Sharpie?

Yeah, me too.  Allow me to recount my day for you. March 5th, 2012, let’s talk.

The day began at around 5:30am, when I was awoken by the dawn call to prayer echoing from the many mosques in and around the Kasbah. Oh I thought, Allie should be getting back from Fez right about now. As if on cue, the farting noise our bedroom door makes as it drags across the floor jolted me out of semi-consciousness, and I hid under the covers in stubborn revolt against wakefulness. The light flipped on and off again, and I listened to the muted thunk made by Allie’s heels on the tile floor and tried to fall asleep.

The night had passed slowly and fitfully, full of hot flashes and cold spells, buzzing mosquitoes, and vivid, strange dreams. After two hours of hiding from the chilly morning air, I arose, dressed, ate, and traipsed along my usual route out of the kasbah, through the souk and centre-ville to the tram stop. I dropped 11dh into the groove below the ticket vendor window, and received a tram ticket and a 5dh piece for change.

Class passed as pleasantly as it could have at l’Institute des Études Africaines, where we talked about the diversity and varying uses of languages in Morocco. We touched the first-ever Arabic typewriters. They were old. It was cool.

This is where you began to surprise me, March 5th. Upon calling the Turkish Airlines sales office in Casablanca and making a few inquiries in nervous French, I discovered that I’d be unable to pay for and receive my airplane tickets for spring break in any way except in person, in Casablanca, before noon tomorrow. W. T. F. Turkish. Airlines.

I’m lucky to live in a country with such reliable and regular trains. Fine, then, March 5th—FINE! I’ll leap out of my schedule, skip Lit (I haven’t bought the new book yet anyway), defiantly take the tram back to centre-ville, and board a train for Casa Port. Yes, I WILL ask for directions at every turn because I have no idea what I’m doing, yes I WILL rely on an address scrawled hastily across a slip of crumpled paper, yes I WILL hope to whatever god you like that they’ll take my only debit card, because ATMs in this country only allow me to withdraw so-many dirhams a day and so-many is not enough for a plane ticket.

But oh, I thought on the train, how I delight in times like these! The simplest task turned to epic, truant, solo adventure, watching the Moroccan countryside flash past my window, as we follow the coastline southwest to Casablanca! Onward, March 5th! Continue in this marginally out-of-the-ordinary vein! Independence, ahoy! All of Morocco at my fingertips, at my beck and call, at only 35dh ($4.32098765432099) for a 2nd class ticket to Casa Port!

Let me also insert that I was a bit hungry at this point, and on the lookout for the right stop; there are neither announcements nor signs posted anywhere that lets one know at what station the train arrives. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

After celebrating Victory #1 of disembarking at the correct stop (it would have been hard to fail, since Casa Port is the last stop on that train), I asked a Moroccan woman if she could direct me to the Sheraton hotel, because I’d been told that the obscure 7th floor office I sought was across the street from it. She told me to take a taxi, but I knew it was only a 10-minute walk to get there. Instead of asking someone else, though, I just picked a direction and started walking, hoping I’d magically find it on my own. I saw hotels and headed in the direction of more hotels, I stopped one taxi and realized I should be walking in the opposite direction. As it turned out, I did indeed magically find it on my own (in about 20 minutes), stopping only to verify with a different taxi driver that I’d got the right Tour des Habbous. In retrospect, that was a potentially disastrous way to go about finding that stupid office considering how big, complicated, and utterly foreign Casablanca is. I therefore give my intuition a metaphorical pat on the back, and return to my narrative.

Of course, I should have realized that nothing in this country is simple, and that the skeezy little Turkish Airlines office would have a broken debit-card machine, and request that I pay in cash. Of course the ATMs would, for the first time since arriving in Morocco, defiantly spit out my card like a three-year-old spits out boiled cauliflower. Of course I headed to a man-café to regroup, call my RD, and consider my options, as man-stares bored holes in my clothes.

A combination of things contributed to my volatile emotional state at that point. The stress of being completely alone in a giant, foreign city, where I must rely on my skill in my second and (bits of my) third languages because nobody speaks my first; where I am hungry, sweating, dehydrated, suffering new and painful digestive issues, and battling the raging hormones and cramps that arrive with thistimeofthemonth; and, finally (this nearly drove me over the edge), f*****g GUY SITTING BY THE ATMS YELLING DISGUSTING THINGS AT ME EVERY TIME I WALKED BY DSLKDJIWFLDKJSDLKJFGRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAHIWANTTODESTROYEVERYTHING

As you can see, I struggled for a bit there, and emerged with a grim, stubborn, don’t f**k with me sort of attitude.

I returned to Turkish Airlines, politely explained my plight I-live-in-Rabat-and-you-gave-me-this-stupid-deadline-so-you-make-it-work-please-and-thank-you, and sat there, watching Turkish Airlines Lady type things impatiently into a PC that probably existed along with the dinosaurs. I wondered if it was lonely since all its friends were extinct, and then I remembered that it was a computer and probably didn’t have feelings.

ApPARently, if I leave on Friday the 16th instead of Saturday the 17th, I can magically pay for my ticket on the day of my departure. F***ing…WHAT?! I decided that, with the world as complicated and stupid as it is, I could afford to accept this strange and serendipitous change without comment. I verified at least four times that I’d be able to pay the day of the departure and that the fare would remain the same, and took my leave of Turkish Airlines Lady for the final time.

So, did you get your ticket, Katie? Yes and no, I suppose. I got back on the train at around 4, thinking that if life were simple, I might’ve gotten back in time for Fousha. As it was, I imagined my rather severe professor’s face as she—probably at that very moment—learned that one of her students had gone home sick, and another was randomly in Casablanca that day. That thought made me laugh, out of nowhere, in the middle of a crowded train in Morocco. My rather foul mood dissolved in one suddenly hilarious instant, when I remembered how ridiculous this whole situation is and giggled uncontrollably into my notebook, tears springing to my eyes as Moroccans watched me with something like alarm. The train home passed easily, as I carried on pleasant conversations with the agreeable people facing me and enjoyed the afternoon sun on my face.

After arriving back in Rabat, I bought 4 bananas and ate them sitting on the ground, without caring who stared, watching the ocean crash into the river. I slowly walked home, where, suddenly unable to swallow pills, I pathetically sipped water as the pepto-bismol tablets dissolved in my mouth. What a crazy day.

And now, here we sit, Allie and I, the Dream Team, Roomiez 4-evah, laughing about Moroccan boys and ridiculous stories. I change into clean pajamas and re-read this post, slowly regaining my bearings and sense of peace. Some more deep breaths and sips of water, and all is well.

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NO, IT ISN’T!!!

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Yesterday, in a quick cab from the Hassan II Mosque to the Casablanca train station to catch a train home, the driver pointed this out to us as we drove by:

…Let me blow that up a bit for you.

You muusssst remember thiiiiis, a kiss is still a kiiiisssssss,

A SIGH IS JUST A SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH!!!!!

“It’s the original Rick’s,” he said earnestly, “the original. Vous avez vu le film?”

Beezy, pleasy, I thought. DUH HAVE I SEEN THE FILM PSHAW BUT I ALSO KNOW THAT THE entire film was shot in the studio in L.A. I’ll believe you, though, snap a photo out the window, and say I’ve been to (driven by) Rick’s!

Or,

I rather dumbly sprayed chocolate milk all over myself with a straw this morning, but it was worth it because MOSQUE.

WeeeEEEeee (by we I mean a few girls in our cohort and our Moroccan pal Qaiss) went to Casablanca today! Sadly, I must inform you all that Casablanca is neither romantic nor well-liked among Moroccans; it’s not a cultural hotspot, it’s all business and is considered just a big, stinky city. Still, it’s Casa-friggin-blanca, which I insist is awesome no matter what you say. We went to a book fair (trilingual book fair, cool! I got a free Islamic sex-ed book, and bought a cookbook), and visited the largest mosque in Africa, the third largest mosque in the world: the breathtaking Hassan II mosque. It’s…big. And art. It’s big art.

This is what it looks like on the outside:

Look at how small the people are. This place is HUGE!

After a strange pizza and questionable Maghribian ketchup that tasted like a cross between Cholula and Sriracha, we ran to catch a tour of the mosque that we quickly abandoned and that nobody listened to anyway.

We were encouraged to take photos, but were also called Japanese tourists once or twice, so I’m not sure what their deal was with cameras. After an attempt or two at photographing the cavernous, beautiful interior…

And many jaws dropped that day.

…I concluded that the wings upon wings, the pillars, the alcoves, the carpets, the floors, the doors, the chandeliers, the ceilings, such an overwhelming amount of beauty all in one huge place—was all too much to attempt to capture in a photo, or twelve, or thirty-six.  Relaxing the pressure to prove I was here and felt emotions while here made the experience much less stressful, and I found myself instead wandering around the enormous mosque, clutching the plastic bag containing my shoes, mouth open and eyes cast upward.

I thenceforth relegated myself to preserving bits and pieces of the intricate details and patterns inlaid everywhere throughout the mosque, which I hope you enjoy!

Slightly blurry, enormous hammam in basement of mosque. Yes, that’s a giant bathtub.

Whoa.

After a lot of staring at things, we finally stepped back into the bright Moroccan sun, and the overload of art-beauty-awesome-big caused some kind of blip in my excitable system. I proceeded to skip around, yelling stuff like “PRETTY THINGSSSSS!!!!” and “THIS IS BIIIIIIIIIIG!!!” and taking pictures with wild abandon.

…And that’s all I have to say about that.