This morning, we said goodbye to the satellite dishes of Casablanca. It didn’t mean we were leaving Casablanca yet; it simply meant we were moving out of our Airbnb with its 7th floor patio and moving to the hotel where we’d meet our G Adventures group. We moved out after eating breakfast at our go-to breakfast spot, Café de France.
We took a white taxi to Moroccan House Hotel Casablanca on Rue Mohamed SMIHA, where we were lucky enough to be able to check in right away. Susan gathered some laundry and turned it over to the concierge. The hotel was a bit over-the-top, with its frilly canopied bed, its two beds with brightly painted headboards, and paintings of harem girls playing tambourines for a belly dancer.
From our new hotel, we walked around Marché Central, an arcaded and walled market with fruit, flower, fish and meat vendors, and seafood cafés.
We wandered by and through the modern Casa Port train station, with its shops and eateries.
From there we wandered aimlessly around the Ancienne Medina, mainly looking at bags, lanterns, magnets and scarves. I loved the paintings but didn’t know how I’d lug them all over Morocco and then Italy. I bought two scarves, so the madness was already beginning!
We returned to our dinner place from the night before, Casa José, where we shared an avocado & shrimp salad and some mushroom & ham croquettes. Stomachs full, we wandered more through the medina, admiring tiles, minarets, doors and windows. We heard some yelling and saw a brawl brewing between light and dark-skinned Moroccans. A woman was swinging an umbrella as a crowd gathered. Susan and I got the heck out of there.
We ended up back in the area we’d walked two days prior, near the Rialto Theater, and situated ourselves under an awning at a café directly across from it. We watched a mini-drama unfold as someone valet-parking cars created a huge honking traffic jam. We sat for a long time, whiling the time away, sipping a sparkling water and reading torn-out Lonely Planet guidebook pages about Tangier.
Back at the hotel, we met Aziz, a Berber, who would be our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) for the 14-day trip through Morocco. He announced to us that he was single and available. We had 14 people altogether:
- Me – from northern Virginia, USA.
- Susan – from Maryland, USA.
- Christian – from Germany.
- Natalie (39) – from Australia, worked in London.
- Father Anthony – a 76-year-old bodybuilding Australian priest who mostly worked in academia and economics.
- Edward – one-half of a married couple from British Columbia. He was director of a school in UAE for 12 years; he also worked in Nanjing, China for a while, and Turkey as well.
- Elizabeth – the other half of the married couple. She worked with orphans and was a physical therapist.
- Tienchai, who goes by “Chai,” a pediatrician from Bangkok.
- René – a dentist from Vancouver (half of a married couple).
- Gabriel – American, and the other half of the Vancouver couple. He worked at the Center for Disease Control in infectious diseases.
- Theresa from near Beijing, China. She didn’t speak much English.
- Tammy, a Chinese-Canadian woman from Toronto.
- Yulian (39), a Chinese-Canadian woman from Toronto. She worked as a legal assistant and lived with her parents. She was originally from Nanning, China, where I spent a year teaching English from 2014-2015.
- Sue, a Chinese-Canadian woman from Toronto.
The last four women belonged to a travel club in Toronto that put people together to travel.
René and Gabriel seemed friendly and talkative. Gabriel applied for Canadian citizenship as soon as Trump was elected. He’d lived in Canada for twelve years already, and was debating whether he should renounce his American citizenship. Once you renounce it, apparently you can never get it back. This was the fourth G Adventures tour for René and Gabriel, (they’d been to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Jordan, and on a short trip to Hanoi and Halong Bay) and for Christian. Chai had been with G Adventures to Egypt and was booked for another trip as well.
Most of us, except Chai and the four Asian ladies (who had a reservation at Rick’s Café) ate dinner at a cool restaurant where we sat on cushioned seats around brass tables. I ordered Kofta tajine (meatballs with carrots and potatoes in a hot terra cotta dish). It was good but made my stomach rumble a bit. No alcohol was served. It was a good time to get to know our fellow travelers.
The following day, our tour would take us 4 1/2-5 hours to Tangier, where we’d spend a couple of hours in Tangier’s medina. Then we’d drive two hours further to Chefchaouen.
*Steps: 15,130, or 6.49 miles*
*Monday, April 8, 2019*
“PROSE” INVITATION: I invite you to write up to a post on your own blog about a recently visited particular destination (not journeys in general). Concentrate on any intention you set for your prose. One of my intentions was to write using my five senses, which I still struggle with, but tried to incorporate here.
It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction for this invitation. You can either set your own writing intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: prose. (This page is a work in process.) You can also include photos, of course.
Include the link in the comments below by Monday, January 27 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this invitation on Tuesday, January 28, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!