Here’s Looking at You, Casablanca

A bit naïve and uncultured I imagined I would be swept away by a tall dark, handsome man (Humphrey Bogart Jr.) upon my arrival in Casablanca. He would rescue me from customs- sweeping me away to his restaurant- where I would be serenaded, charmed, romanced- and we would live happily ever after.

Except it wasn’t like that.

As Casablanca was our first stop in Morocco- having survived a million different connecting flights with 0 hours of sleep plus having 0 knowledge of Arabic between the two of us- it was a culture shock (to say the least).

At the Hassan II Mosque, my mother (bless her heart) mistook a restroom for well, something. This something we initially thought to be a confession room – similar to what you would find in a Catholic Church- but later found out said confession room was a water closet and the attendant was not a priest, but was actually handing out toilet paper. Well, and it was a mosque, not a Catholic Church.

Yeah, we’re not very logical.

The mosque is beautiful and so is the religion of Islam. Don’t listen to what you hear on the news- it likes to feed our already ignorant brains with propaganda and fear!

A note on the mosque: you will have to remove your shoes when you go inside.

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Besides visiting the mosque, you can walk along the waterfront, admiring the Atlantic coast. Grab a bite to eat and a قهوه (English transliteration- qahwa, which means coffee in English) if you would like. Much like other places in Morocco, Casablanca is expensive. It was about 60 Dirham each for a قهوه and a pizza which equates to about $12 total + tip.

Other than that there’s not much else to do in Casablanca.

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The city of Casablanca itself is very cosmopolitan- many big name corporations have a home here- Citibank, AT&T, Coca Cola, Exxon Mobile, etc. I’m sure there are glamorous areas, but as I try to live like a local when I go to foreign countries, I wouldn’t know anything about wealth.

If you’re thing is to party with the wealthy- then by all means do it. It can definitely be done here. But, don’t blame me if you wind up a part of some weird side business scheme that involves something similar to the movie Hostel. But, let’s not go there.

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At this point, you’re probably a little confused since “Casablanca” the movie is considered by many (who these many are I don’t know) as one of the most romantic films of all time. The name provokes images of the scene where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s characters are about to part ways- standing outside on a tarmac with an airplane behind them. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, see the picture at the end of this post.

Or, you may think of the scene in Rick’s café where, the famous, yet widely misconstrued quote, “Play It, Sam. Play As Time Goes By” made its debut. (It’s not “Play it again, Sam.”)

In Casablanca the city, Syrian refugees roam the streets begging for money. Jaywalking does not exist.  There are no distinguished car lanes. And many of the roads are either unpaved or worn down. There is no beating around the bush- it’s dirty, it’s seedy, and you have to be okay feeling out of place and slightly uncomfortable. (I love this kind of stuff, but I’m half nuts).

If you’re expecting romance and intrigue, like most of us are, Casablanca is not the place to find it -unless you’re a billionaire and con artists are your thing (JK). We’ll get to those later.

You’re better off going to the Caribbean and hoping for a romantic tryst with your scuba instructor.

Do you think Hemingway would like Casablanca? Why would a film be named after a city that had nothing to do with it? Will we always have Paris (hint answer below)? What else would you like to know about Casablanca? Does it annoy you that I add fluff into my adventures? Are my stories too disjointed for you to follow?


“We’ll always have Paris.” – Casablanca

 

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