The mosque in Casablanca (“white house” in Spanish) is the fifth largest in the world and has the tallest minaret (215 feet) in the world. We marveled in the vast size and beauty of this religious monument. Inside its gates, we felt like it truly was a holy place. A place of that vastness made you feel as if it was touched by the hand of God.
And then we left and made our way to Rabat, the capital of Morocco.
There, we met up with old friends of mine and the old haunts I frequented while in Rabat a year ago. We experienced the beautiful Roman/Arab ruins at Chellah and gazed upon the storks nesting high in the minaret.
We visited the mini-mart, the butcher, the grocer, and the café that I had helped keep in business with my generous use of dirham. It brought back many memories of a time in which I suffered from many stomach illnesses (I was quite sick during my stay abroad). There were many old friends that remembered me and it made me feel a momentary sense of elevation. To these people, I was one of the very few Americans that they knew or would ever meet in their lives.
That night, Brian and I enjoyed our time with my friend Saber and his friends. We spent out time discussing the differences and surprising similarities between cultures. Sure, Saber and his friends were Muslim and were forbidden by laws to drink alcohol, but they were also like us. They wanted to enjoy themselves with their friends and without people telling them exactly what must be done. This is the part about Moroccans I love the most. In one sense, they are so different, but at heart they are just like my friends from home.
Recycling, or the lack of it, has always been a problem in Morocco and disposing of the beer bottles helped illuminate that problem. I tend to be a positive person when discussing life in Morocco, the country which has stolen my heart. However, there are two problems in Moroccan society that are apparent.
Brian and I were advised to remain away from the unemployment/democracy protests that were located outside the window of our Hotel in Rabat. These protests were held by people with similar beliefs to the men and women that took to the streets in Algeria, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Libya, among others.
2. The lack of trash and recycling facilities. The stench of rotting trash can be found in many places.
How could the country fix these problems?
Morocco needs to create recycling facilities, which will create jobs, and clean up the country. If there are more jobs available in cities around the country, there will be less chance of a revolt similar to those in other nations. Other positive effects will include a boom to tourism. A store owner informed me that the recent Marrakech bombing injured the already weakened tourism economy. Getting rid of this sense of chance outbreak would boost the tourist sector and the economy.