Morocco is a country brimming with paradox. The serenity of Essaouira against the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh, the monotonous shades of clay walls against the vibrant carpets, the curious blend of modern and traditional way of lives, and also the indiscernible impression the country left us with. Weeks after our trip, I am still loudly wondering how I felt about Morocco. Despite the amazing sights and experience we had, the touts had left a somewhat bitter taste. Hopefully, the retelling of our steps in this intriguing African country would help absolve these mixed feelings.
Back in May, we embarked on a work slash leisure trip to Morocco but life (and our laziness to shift through the thousands of photos taken during the trip) got in the way of a timely post. Now that life has decided to loosen the noose around our necks, here comes the captures and stories of the country that continues to amaze and baffle us long after our trip ended.
Flying in from Indonesia, our flight took us to Casablanca. Casablanca oh Casablanca, the mere mention of its name conjures up images from the Academy Award winning film by Michael Curtiz. But instead of a city brimming with romance pictured in the movies (albeit tragic), the Casablanca we landed in seemed dull – simply another city in another side of the world coping with the rapid rise of urbanization.
That was until we walked along the promenade searching for food and found the magnificent Hassan II Mosque looming above the Atlantic Ocean instead. Lord almighty, that is one incredible feat of architecture.
A quick Google search reveals the 9 hectare Mosque to be the biggest in Morocco with the world’s highest minaret at 210 metres. This is also one of the few mosques in the world that allow non-Muslims to venture inside on a guided tour so be sure to check the hours if you have a chance to visit. I highly recommend joining the tour as it is both informative and allows a glimpse of the amazing interior. If you’re lucky, the retractable roofs may be open.
Without the tour, non-Muslims are only allowed to wander around the outside premises and any potential trespasses, even accidental (we were looking for the meeting point, really!), are met with ear piercing whistle blows from the attendants.
While the Mosque was, once again, magnifique, the rest of the city had little to offer tourists and we spent the rest of the day relaxing under the bright African sun and tasting the first mint tea and tajine of our trip.
On a side note, please do not, I repeat, do not mention that you’re taking UBER in Morocco. We innocently confirmed some cab drivers’ suspicion while waiting in front of our hotel for our ride and they started cussing and circling us threateningly. The hotel security did nothing and we had to cancel our UBER for fear of his safety and ended up walking instead. The cab drivers actually followed us for more than half a kilometre until we entered a restaurant to shake them off.
Not the best experience to start our trip, but coming from Indonesia, where UBER is also not exactly welcomed, we should have known better. I’m not trying to scare anyone away from using UBER in Morocco but make sure to tell anyone who asks that it’s your “friend” picking you up. A white lie goes a long way in this case.
Next: The Blue Jewel of Morocco, Chefchaouen