OK, actually by the website. Travel website, that is. I’ve found that, by and large, this town lived up to much of what I’ve read about it: it’s a bit meh for the traveller, though the huge (third largest in the world) Hassan II Mosque is worth a visit and you could spend some time wandering the town. La Corniche (where we were staying) is basically a tired strip of somewhat rundown beach clubs. If you’re into being somewhere that bears more similarities to Miami or the Jersey Shore than most of Morocco it could be the place for you! Basically, there is a striking mix of some nicely kept public spaces and signs of wealth that come with being the nation’s commercial capital, and crumbling infrastructure and bleak shanty towns around the city’s edges.
There are some really nice people alongside plenty of opportunities to feel like you really have no idea what the hell is going on. Especially when you’re in one of the ubiquitous “petit taxis“. These tiny red cars are in varying states of disrepair and the drivers are masters of creating their own lane and finding other passengers who are going in the same direction so they can maximize their fare. Everyone pays the full amount for their ride, it seems, except that some drivers reset the meter when a new passenger gets in. We tried to figure what exactly is “supposed to happen” on our return from the Casa train station but ended up in an argument on the street with the cab driver. Whoops. Don’t worry, we paid him. And don’t get me wrong, some of the friendliest people we encountered were taxi drivers. How else would I have found out that the King was in town, and actually praying in the Hassan II mosque when we drove by Friday at midday?
Most travel forums suggest you spend the least amount of time possible in your Moroccan trip in Casablanca. Oh well: we had two weeks there (first two of April), blissfully broken up by our trip to Fes. Could I have tried harder to “get” the city? No doubt. Obviously you get out what you put in when you travel. I didn’t put much into Casablanca so I can’t really whine about my time there. I blame my laziness partly on feeling pretty wiped out when we got here and partly on my efforts to save money – which turned out to be harder than anticipated.
Duncan, on the other hand, “put in” a ton when it came to work. Ask him to fill you in sometime, as I try to avoid blogging about his job in any kind of detail. I’ll just say that after his first two days of work he practically begged me to do nothing on his day off. I dragged him to the mosque and we poked around the edges of downtown instead. Such a supportive wife.