My second journey to Morocco has thus far been exciting. While my first journey was alone, this journey I am sharing with my friend from home, Brian. (For Brian, his international experiences included a short excursion to Belgium while in 8th grade and momentary trips to Montreal with me to visit our friend Chelsea and enjoy the 18 year old drinking age.) After months of unsuccessful planning, we boarded our plane from Boston and embarked on our grand graduation voyage.
Our flight from Boston to Madrid was fairly uneventful. The Iberia Airlines flight provided decently edible food and wine. We drank wine as a way to kick off our voyage: a toast to the experience. Brian and I were fortunate to grab seats next each other.
Arriving in Madrid at 7 AM Spanish time and 1 AM Eastern time, Brian and I fought to stay awake and survive our brief layover in Barajas Airport. It was in Madrid that I had my first experience with Moroccans in a year. A man came up to me and asked in impeccable French for the location of gate 23. Dumbfounded, I stared at him until he switched into English and I pointed to where I imagined the gate to exist. Moroccans have one of the most marketable skills in the world, language, and some do it as well as native speakers of the nation of the language. Some Moroccans speak classical Arabic, Darija (the Moroccan dialect), Berber, French, and English. A minute later, I saw that the flight to Casablanca was indeed gate 23 and that the man who asked me for directions was a Moroccan man.
Our flight embarked, and it seemed that as soon as it had, it began its descent into Casablanca. As a second-time visitor to the land of the Maghreb, the appearance of Morocco lacked the relative uneasiness which I felt last year. The dirt exits which lined the highways were less out of place. The covered women looked normal in hijabs and, conversely, the women showing skin seemed very inappropriate. It was good to be back.
This was my first elongated stay in Casablanca. Previously, I was led to believe that the city was too large, dirty, and wrought with corruption to enjoy. While it may be all of these things to some degree, it is also an enjoyable and beautiful place to visit. My good friend from Marist, Nick, helped set me up with his aunt’s husband’s family in Casablanca. His uncle-in-law’s brother, Razak, was our host.
Razak showed Brian and me a great time around Morocco. From picking us up in the airport and showing us pictures of the many famous people he had interacted with to meeting with his family in a nearby town for an early dinner, it was a wonderful experience. Brian’s first meal in Morocco was a lamb and prune tagine (stew) and a chicken tagine. Delicious! After significant food, we passed out on the salon couches for 2 hours. We left from Razak’s family’s house at roughly 10:30 PM and made the trek back to Casablanca.
Brian and I arrived back in Casablanca fully expecting to spend the night and sleep in the apartment. The next thing we knew, we were out at a small club in Casablanca experiencing the culture and nightlife of cosmopolitan Morocco. The once quiet Razak came alive. Razak’s friend Yunis joined us for our cultural adventure in Casablanca. We sat in the bar drinking Flagg Speciale and wine, and sipped on sheesha tobacco. Brian and I felt just like locals as we gossiped about what people were wearing and what they were doing at the club. To me, traveling is enjoying another culture and not visiting museums; this was incredible.
At 2:45 AM, we left the club in search of another bar. Unfortunately, all the bars that we checked were closed. It seemed that the night life of Casablanca was ending, as was our night. Fortunately, the night continued and we met Razak’s friend Fatima who helped fill the car with even more laughter as we exchanged stories. We later found ourselves to a 24 hour juice stand that indulged our craving for something delicious. It was a Top 10 night.
The next day, after sleeping until 1 PM, we viewed the Grand Mosque in Casa and bid Razak farewell. It was time to move to Rabat.