Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Casablanca, Morocco, June 2012

Okay, first, Casablanca IS a part of Morocco.  It seems that a shoestring traveller is talking about Morocco and the name Casablanca comes up, they feel the need to qualify it by saying, "You know...Casablanca isn't part of Morocco!"   Like it's on an island that's floating around in the Atlantic!
  It IS part of Morocco.  It happens to have 3,000,000 people who seem to think they are in Morocco, especially since they pay taxes TO Morocco.     Okay... enough of that.

There are really only two reasons to visit Casablanca if you are a tourist... one is the incredible mosque,  and the second is Rick's Cafe, the mythical bar that Humphrey Bogart ran in the movie, Casablanca... which was in Morocco then, too!

    The cafe is actually fairly small, much smaller than the set it was filmed on, which was in Tangiers, yes, that's in Morocco and in Hollywood, no that is not in Morocco.  The cafe is a beautiful creamy white color and reeks of nostalgia.

The second floor is even smaller and overlooks the restaurant below.  It has a bar, "The Blue Parrot" and the continuously show the movie, "Casablanca" 24 hours a day.  I watched it with a couple from California and enjoyed it even more than the 496 times I had seen before.

 It only seemed natural to have a Casablanca beer in Casablanca at Rick's Cafe.  Mom would have shot me if I did not go to the Cafe.

In an American Mexican restaurant, you always get a bowl of chips.  In Morocco, you always get olives.  Never, never, never, ask what happens to the olives that you don't eat.  Never!

The night I was there, Sam wasn't.  Actually, Sam never is.  But they usually have a piano player, though on Sunday nights they have a jazz combo.

    The second reason for going to Casablanca is to see the Hassan II Mosque, which is the  7th largest mosque in the world.  I didn't know what to expect.  I had been to many other mosque, but I think they rank about 450th in world size!  This one is gargantuan.
    What is strange is that in Morocco, non Muslims cannot go into the mosque, but they can in the Hassan II Mosque.  For 120 D (about $14) that is.  Well worth every penny.

 It's built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and in fact, some of it is built over the ocean.  Kinda daring, don't you think?!!?


The easiest thing to like about the Mosque is that it is very bright and airy inside.  No dark chambers or overly massive columns.   It is made of marble and ornately decorated cedar wood.  It is easy on the eyes.  And did I mention the skylight??

The Mosque took over 6 years to build and had over 6,000 artisans working on it.  The pigeons sure love it!!   It was finished in 1993 so it's only about 20 years old so it will be interesting to see how it will weather time.  I wonder if the government helped build it??

Do not visit on Friday, as there are no tours....just in case you were thinking of flying to Morocco this weekend.  Our tour guide was excellent.  He could speak five languages like his home language.

There are heated floors, which is a great idea since the floors are marble and partially built out over the Atlantic.  Some of the doors are electric as is the roof.  

This is the one of about 14 baptismal fonts that are in the bottom of the Mosque.  This is where the people are required to wash their feet before going to the main Mosque to pray.

Women are required to dress conservative as are the men.  No shorts, and ladies mud cover their shoulders.  No one wears shoes in the building.  Remember, people sit and kneel on the floors  to pray.

I apologize for how poorly this is written.. I'm sitting in a bar because they have Wifi and there are three guys behind be badmouthing the States.  I may end up in jail tonight.  They keep talking about how uncivilized the States is... If I kick their sorry butts... would that make their case???...maybe...but it might be worth it.

A weed is but a flower whose virtues have yet to be discovered.

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