I quickly acclimated to Moroccan culture and was able to enjoy my second day with fewer culture blasts than the first.
I got a late start to the day, enjoying my time to sleep and eat breakfast at the hotel (which was wonderful, by the way! I highly recommend Moroccan House Hotel for anyone staying in Casablanca.) After breakfast, I had to switch hotel rooms because I had a new room which was booked as part of the tour. By the time I had settled in to my new room and gotten ready for the day, it was around noon.
I began the day by going back to the crowded part of town where I had eaten previously — the part that was full of shops and cafés. I turned a few different corners than I had before, and suddenly found myself in a packed street market. It was exactly how I’d expect a market in Morocco to be. There were rows and rows of tiny stands packed with hand-crafted goods and plenty of knock-offs. I spent about an hour roaming around the market, getting lost in the winding walkways. I stopped at many shops and bought souvenirs for pretty much everyone I know. I’m terrible and bargaining because, though I, too, have very little money, I like supporting the local community; but at times I would buy two or three items from a stand and ask the seller for a discount for all of them. I had a pretty productive day at the market and found many neat knick-knacks, but after a while I grew tired and decided to leave to go somewhere else.
I walked toward the water and stopped at a bench where I could feel the sea breeze blowing despite the view of the ocean blocked by big buildings. I took out the book I had with me any read for a while in peace while I stopped to look up every once in a while to watch cars zoom past.
When the sun became too hot and I reached a good breaking point in my book, I rose again to continue walking. This time, I walked around until I found Rick’s Cafe, the restaurant named after the famous cafe from the classic film Casablanca. When I saw a woman get rejected from entering the cafe because she did not meet the elite dress code requirements in her jeans and t-shirt, I figured that I, in my casual tee and maxi skirt, would be rejected as well so I did not ask to go in. But I did ask the bouncer at the door to take a picture of me in front of the café. 🙂
After that success, I headed back to the hotel where I was to meet my tour group for orientation. I got there briefly before the meeting, and went up to my room where I met my roommate, a young Canadian who is between jobs and now off traveling. We walked to the lobby together and met our tour group in a lavishly decorated sitting area.
The guide introduced himself and gave a brief background of the tour. After filling out some necessary paperwork, we all got to know each other and became familiar with names and home countries. My tour is a diverse group; I’m the youngest, and one of three from America, the other two being a middle-aged couple form Missouri. Then there’s my roommate and her friend, both mid-20s and from Toronto. Another middle-aged woman from Toronto is on the tour, along with three other solo travelers — a girl from Vancouver, and young woman from Milan and a young guy (who’s apparently already a doctor!) from Sydney. There are two other Aussies, an elderly couple from New South Wales who are still very alive a kicking.
Everyone on the tour is extroverted, friendly and jovial — a blast to have on a small tour. We went to dinner together and enjoyed some traditional Moroccan cuisine along with wine, mint tea and Casablanca beer. Dinner was fabulous, but we all felt tired from traveling so we ended the night early and headed back to the hotel for sleep.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Meknes and Fes, and I cannot wait to have tours of both! After today’s adventure, I’ve grown to really, really like Casablanca, but I’m ready to leave tomorrow and see some of the other beautiful cities Morocco is known for.