yesterday we took the train up the coast to get to casablanca. we came here partially because we wanted to see this huge crazy mosque and partially just cause the word casablanca is world famous and we thought it must be a cool city. most people in the states couldnt name a city in morocco, but everyone’s heard of casablanca. well, we got here, and the mosque ended up being way cooler than expected, but the city was much less interesting than we thought it might be.
the mosque is the Hassan II mosque, one of the biggest in the world and it was just completed in 1993. this thing was so impressive looking. it has a humongous minaret that towers over the square (and we here the minaret has lasers shooting out of it at night pointing towards mecca), and the architecture of it is so crazy impressive. we were totally awestruck by it. i guess the place cost 600 million dollars to build, and it shows! the other cool thing about the mosque, is that it is one of the very few mosques that actually allows non-muslims to go inside it, and we were excited to check out the inside… but unfortunately, we got there too late for the last tour.
other than that, there really isn’t all that much to see in casablanca. in fact, in a lot of ways, it almost doesnt even feel like morocco. most of the city is very modern and seems just like any other large city in the world w/ just a splash of morocco-ness added to it. so all in all, we’re rather unimpressed here. today we ventured into the medina, and the medina here is way less crazy or interesting than the ones in fez or marrakech. on the flip side, we got hassled like *crazy*!! people just wouldnt leave us alone… it was sooo frustrating! one guy followed us forever asking us to come to his shop, gave us a business card, kept babbling on and on… when he finally got the drift that we werent coming to his shop, he yelled “give me back my card” and snatched the business card from my hand angrily and stormed away muttering. sheesh! after spending a bit of time in the medina, we started getting really frustrated about just how much we were being hassled… and then… i think i got pickpocketed.
here’s what happened: when i got to a particularly crowded area in the medina, this weird guy came up to me from the left and started totally fucking w/ me. he kept putting his foot infront of me and purposefully stepping on my foor over and over again while laughing all crazy-like. wtf?? and he just kept doing it and doing it… i couldnt tell if he was trying to step on my foot, or trying to step on the cuf of my pants to unroll them or what, but after like 20 seconds of this i got fed up and just shoved the guy hellza hard… but instead of reacting to that, the guy just laughed and waled away. afew seconds later, this other guy walked up to me and handed me my little notebook that i always keep in my right pocket, and walked away briskly. wtf? i can only assume that the first weirdo distracted me on the left, while my pocket got picked on the right, and when the guy discovered that it was a nbotebook and not a wallet, he handed it to me. i dont know how else he could have gotten the notebook… seeing as it was uber-crowded… if the notebook had just fallen out of my pocket, there’s no way anyone would have seen it fall in the mob. so i dunno… maybe it wasnt a pickpocketing… but the first guy was acting so weird that i just cant see it being a conincidence.
so, i think that caryn and i both are pretty ready to leave morocco. it’s from a combination of all the people hassling us, the not so exciting food, the icky hotel room we had last night, and our lack of enthusiasm about casablanca. dont get me wrong, we both totally loved morocco, enjoyed ourselves while we were here, and are definitely psyched that we came here… but i think we’ve had our fill. tomorrow, we take the train outta here and head northwards to cross back into europe.
oh, one more thing… one of the things that make dealing w/ the people who hassle you particularly difficult, is that you never know iof they may be genuine or not. we’ve had some people come up to us from out of the blue and help us for absolutely no reason at all!! we never even asked for help, and they were sooo nice to us! so when people come up to us in the medina, we dont want to just automatically shoo them away, just in case they are really only trying to help. but then, 90% of them just end up trying to yank you into the next shop if you aren’t harsh to them. argghh!
anyways, check out the new casablanca gallery i uploaded.