When I knew I
was going to Morocco, my number one priority was to go to Casablanca.
After all, I’d seen the movie (many, many years ago) and walking
in Humphrey Bogart’s footsteps seemed like a fantasy worth imitating.
But when I got there, Casablanca was closed! That is, everything worth
visiting was closed.
The only consolation
was that I managed to get inside the Hassan II Mosque, even though
it was closed (to tourists) for the day. This amazing architectural
wonder boasts …
tallest minaret at 200 metres.
A prayer hall which can accommodate 25,000 people.
An esplanade which can accommodate another 80,000.
A retractable roof which takes only 3 minutes to open converting the
prayer room into a magnificent patio.
Built between 1987 and 1994, by 3,300 craftsmen, it’s foundation
covers 2 hectares.
Casablanca had one incredible tourist attraction
... the tallest mosque in the world.
But that was it!
The city, mostly filled with white buildings, looked old and boring
compared to Marrakech, especially with the myriad of TV antennae and
satellite dishes on their roofs which ruined a beautiful blue skyline.
The central market was also closed for the day, so my visit only lasted
5 hours. Then at 5.30pm I was back on the train to Marrakech.
But the highlight
of that day was my train trip to Casablanca. I remembered an old 60’s
or 70’s song called Marrakech Express. Just to jog your memory,
here it is …
know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express.
Don’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express,
We’re taking you to Marrakech.
All aboard the train.
All aboard the train.
I’ve been saving all my money just to take you there.
I see the diamonds in your hair.
(this is all from
memory, so I’m sure someone will find a few errors here)
So as the train
meandered through the Morocco terrain, I watched with fascination
the colours and the nature of the land.
The land was flat
and there was lots of sand. So I suppose you’d call it a desert
(grin). And each little village (they were very, very small) had a
well. Or should that be, each well had a village? Some wells had brick
walls built around them, but others just had barbed wire, probably
to stop animals from falling in.
cactus was growing everywhere, and sometimes used as fences around
And the buildings
were the same colour as those in Marrakech, but these were mud brick
buildings without any paint whatsoever. They looked centuries old.
Much like I’d imagine existed during the days of Christ. And
the properties were bordered by long rows of lush green prickly-pear
cactus, mostly covered by rich red prickly-pear fruit. I remembered
that this plant had been quite a pest when introduced into Australia
many years ago, and we were glad to finally contain it by introducing
a prickly-pear eating caterpillar. But here they were actively being
grown by the farmers. But in Morocco they ate the prickly-pear fruit.
So it was not a menace, it was food. And those weren’t the only
Australian plants in Morocco. Authentic Aussie eucalyptus trees lined
much of the roads along the way.
Then there were
the donkeys. More donkeys than I’d seen anywhere else. People
riding donkeys. Donkeys pulling carts. And lots of mules too.
And the sheep!
Well it’s true, sheep have long tails! I know for sure because
in Morocco they don’t clip the lambs’ tails, so when they’re
fully grown, the tails hang all the way down to the ground.
article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey