Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Wiped out in Casablanca Casablanca, Morocco, Monday, 15 December 2008 6:30am

This is technically my second day here, but I was just too tired to type anything coherent last night.

Flying in from Madrid, I got to see a bit of the area around Casablanca from the air. I'm not sure why I'm always so surprised at how green the world is. I feel like I comment on that every time I fly somewhere. Here it's not the deep emerald of the tropics, but a bright, slightly brownish green of new grass.

I arrived at the Casablanca airport and everything went reasonably smoothly. The airport seems to be under a lot of construction, and the bank storefronts were all closed, but I eventually found an ATM and got some dirhams.

One of the slightly odd things I've found so far is that almost everything at the airport happened wordlessly. Nobody was saying anything as they directed people around. The immigration officer didn't say a word to me. The policeman who checked my passport for its stamp just nodded. The customs agent didn't even make eye-contact as I walked through the Nothing To Declare door.

I'd anticipated being tired, so I'd arranged a ride from the airport. I think I arrived a little earlier than expected, so the driver wasn't there when I first walked around the concourse, but after my ATM errand, I saw the paper with ANEEL in his hands, confirmed the name of the hotel and we were off, again, almost wordlessly.

The ride from the airport was pleasant. The countryside is covered with yellow and orange wildflowers, and we passed several flocks of sheep and some cows grazing along the side of the freeway. Driving here seems reasonable. None of the incessant honking or inexplicable turns that were typical in some of the other places I've visited.

There was a police roadblock, where some cars were being stopped (but not ours). I wanted to ask the driver whether that was routine, but it turned out that we shared no common language. My phrasebook didn't appear to have a word for "roadblock", and I didn't have the energy to try to talk around it.

The guy at the reception desk did speak English and commented that he'd heard that the airport was very busy today, since pilgrims are returning from hajj, which was the opposite of my impression. Maybe it's always really quiet here.

I showered, then waffled between taking a nap and getting some food. Eventually, I got hungry enough to make the choice. I asked at the desk about places to eat, and was pointed in a general direction. I ended up wandering in that direction and stumbling across the Central Market, where I could have bought a variety of produce, but no prepared food.

It was beautiful out. Late afternoon sun and a few clouds, a big relief, since it had been raining pretty heavily during the ride from the airport. I wandered around, taking a few photos of buildings, and found the old medina and the train station, where I confirmed that there were trains leaving every half hour for Rabat.

I ended up having lunch at a restaurant where the menu was in French and Arabic, but ordering mostly in Spanish. Nicely peppery kafta kebab. Amusingly, one of the songs I heard on the radio while eating was "Dragostea din tei" (aka the Numa Numa Dance), which seems to be everywhere in the world.

A bit more wandering around the medina and I was ready to call it a day. Unfortunately, it was still mid-afternoon. Exhaustion and jetlag were really wearing on me, so I retired to my hotel to read and relax until a reasonable hour and then try to sleep. I made it until 9:30pm. Sleeping so early backfired, of course, since I woke up at 4:30 and have only been able to doze since.


numa numa? RickDias (Anonymously) Tuesday, 16 December 2008 6:34pm

Hasn't that meme died yet?