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Society & Lifestyle
Here we present unique adventures from the modern society and lifestyle.

Morocco, Casablanca mon amor! Part 1 of 2!

I had only just arrived in Casablanca - Casa to locals - and decided to get straight into the heart of it. I wandered through the teeming medina, where you can buy anything from sweet dates to leather goods to MP3s of the latest Maroc hits - then out into the city and into a giant slum area. I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I just kept walking like I knew where I was going and eventually found myself near the sea.
Casablanca,Morocco,medina casa,casa

Photo. At the market in Casablanca. © Joe Gill.

I was looking for Rick's bar - you know, the place run by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 Hollywood classic. It exists - not as in the film, but as a facsimile opened 60 years later to please all those dumb tourists like me who want to go to Rick's place and ask the pianist to play that song 'again'.

I tried to explain this to an Aussie couple I met in a restaurant until I realised that they had never seen the film, so I went through a mini synopsis. It felt surreal, like running through the Gospels for someone who had never heard of Jesus. 'There's this guy whose mother's a virgin and his dad is God. He's kind of confused, a reluctant hero type, then a woman comes along and a few motley characters, like Kelly's Heroes without the gold or Panzas. Despite his fears, he gets involved in the resistance against the fascist occupiers. Anyway, in the end he doesn't get the girl but he redeems himself through a big sacrifice.'

There are actually a lot of bars in Casa, but are mostly the typical male-only places with no lighting and a clientele exclusively of older men. The city has a splendid run-down grandeur; you can almost smell the French colonial heyday in the dirty streets. Right now in January it is on the cool, cloudy side. The sun was out yesterday but promptly vanished again. Casa is without a doubt cool in the other sense, worldly, cosmopolitan, with the unexpected just around the corner – in the medina my senses were almost overwhelmed with fantastic blasts of Maroc music of one kind or another, and the enticing aroma of freshly cooked seafood.

Although this is not the romantic, ye olde medina you get in Fez, I have to say it felt more real. This is a living, breathing medina in the heart of a sprawling North African metropolis. The faces of people are not too easy to read. A certain amount of wariness, and then there is the money look that I am getting used to - the one that sees you as a walking cash machine. The offers to show you around, the 'hey my friend, what you want?' introduction that you know comes with a bill attached.

I adopt my own inscrutable mask, giving as little eye contact as possible while trying to grab the occasional photo without drawing too much attention. It's nearly dark and the muezzin has just started his somewhat alarming call to prayer - which sounds to me more like a crazed football chant. So it’s back to the hotel I guess.

None of the hotels I have stayed in - we are talking two star at best - have heating, so you never really warm up. I have not been truly warm in days. The same goes for the endless cafes and ice cream parlours. They only sell coffee, tea and pastries, but there are three on every short block. With street side seating, it is a chance to watch the world go by fuelled with sugary mint tea or cafe noir. Rick's will have to wait.

This article continues in part 2. Click on the link for reading the rest of the article: Casablanca mon amor! Part 2 of 2!

Joe Gill, 23 January 2008

Additional information

General information about Morocco:
The country`s officially name is the Kingdom of Morocco. It`s located in North Africa with a population of 33,241,259. Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. The country borders to Algeria to the east, Spain to the north - a water border through the Strait and land borders with two small Spanish autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla, and Mauritania to the south.

Presentation of the author:

Joe Gill is a freelance journalist working in London, specialising in the non-profit sector, international development and Latin America.

Photo. Joe Gill from England.
© Joe Gill.

Contact details:

Joe Gill, journalist, London 44 207 607 4120.
(M) 07748597168
(H) 0207 6074120
E-mail: joegill00@hotmail.com.

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