Voyage of Traveler / Blog

October 17, 2009

Traveler Postcard From Fez and Casablanca

October 17, 2009
Bouregreg Marina, Rabat, Morocco           View photo gallery on Picasa

Bonjour! Ca va? Parlez-vous anglais?

Everyone here in Morocco speaks Arabic and French, and rarely will we find someone who speaks any English.

Please check the voyageoftraveler website.  We just put a link to Picasa so it is easy to find our photos, including some new ones from Cap Ferrat to Barcelona, from Gibraltar and from Morocco.  On Traveler’s Homepage, under the heading “Updates”, click on Traveler’s Photo Gallery on Picasa, then click on an album.

A few days ago Brian, Yansen and I took a side trip by train (3.5 hours) to Fez, the cultural capital of Morocco, and stayed one night in a pension (on a scale of one to five, I’d give it a half star) in the ancient walled medina, a World Heritage Site.  It is an amazing maze of narrow, winding alleys with lots of dead ends, and very easy to get turned around and lost. Throughout the medina, the “streets” are way too narrow for cars so it is all foot traffic, with an occasional donkey-drawn cart.  For a few durhams, a local will gladly show you around or help you find your way back to your pension, or more likely lead you to his cousin’s rug shop.  We ate from the food stalls, like the locals, trying our best to just ignore the ever-present flies.  Next to us, while we were eating our dinner, on a crowded, narrow street, the poultry vendor sold live chickens.  He had about 40 in a cage to choose from, and would dress them on the spot for you while you waited.

We also took a side trip to Casablanca yesterday, just for the day, by train (1.5 hours).  In the 15th and 16th centuries, Casablanca was thick with pirates who attacked the ships from Portugal and Spain as they returned from the New World full of treasures. During WWII, “Casa” (as the locals call it) was a part of unoccupied France and a safe haven for European refugees escaping the Nazis and trying to get to the US to start a new life.  Now it is the largest city in Morocco with a population of 3.8 million (the third largest in Africa, after Cairo and Lagos) and is the economic center for this country.

After a walk around the old medina and marketplace, we had lunch at Rick’s Cafe, bought the t-shirt and the “Casablanca” DVD and then watched Bogie and Bergman last night when we got back on board Traveler.  The Best Picture for 1942 is one of my favorites, and has many great lines:

“Your nationality, Mssr. Rick?”
“I’m a drunkard.”

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

In the final scene at the airport, Louie tells the arriving police, “Major Strossel has been shot.” He first then takes a long look at Rick, who just shot the major, and then continues by giving the order, “Round up the usual suspects.”

And the classic closing line of all time, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I think I’ll watch it again.

Vivant le reve,
Marrakesh Mike

P.S.  We have an appointment on November 4 at the US Consulate in Casablanca for the required interview for Yansen’s US visa application.  All visa applications are handled there instead of the nearby US Embassy in Rabat.  Yansen is nervous, and so am I.  A lot is at stake on this interview.  For Yansen, no visa means no entry to the US, and he will have to fly home to Indonesia, probably from Ensenada.  His English is still weak, and I cannot join him on the interview and must wait outside.

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