Today was our final day in Morocco! We had to fly home from Casablanca (per our flight arrangements by Explorica), so we made the most of visiting this place, which at first glance was an ugly city with a traffic problem. However, it's famous for two things we were sure not to miss: the Hassan II mosque and Rick's Cafe.
Hassan II was the former king (father of the current king, Mohammed V) and the mosque built in his honor in Casablanca has the tallest minaret in the world. It's also the only mosque open to non-Muslims. And what a stunning interior! Built in just 6 years, the intricate tiles, soaring pillars, and gaudy chandeliers commanded quiet and respect. We were told to remove our shoes for our tour, and I was surprised to discover a completely open sanctuary. No pews or chairs. Just wall-to-wall carpeting that seemed to absorb all sound. We learned about the pre-prayer ablutions and, astoundingly, how the rooftop lifts open to allow ventilation during Ramadan.
And then we time-traveled to 1942 for lunch at Rick's Cafe of "Casablanca" fame. Interestingly, the film was shot completely in California, but a former American ambassador to Morocco
established the cafe in Casablanca to attract tourists. Indeed, it was the highest concentration of English we had heard spoken since Gibraltar. The black and white geometric flooring, the bar top, and of course the piano threw us right into the film and I was sure Rick and Ilsa would saunter in at any moment! I ordered curried chicken and Sean the black pasta with shrimp, both of which we shared. Topping it all off with the most divine peach Melba and Moroccan mint tea, it was one of the best meals! If only we could have heard "As Time Goes By" on the piano.
I've done so much reflection about the trip, especially after Bryan asked what might be my biggest takeaways from our adventures. It boils down to three things, much of which I keep re-learning. 1) Most of the world does not live as well-off as Americans do (our clean drinking water, freedoms to speak, vote, and question our govenment, and free usage of the internet to name the obvious few). 2) There are multitudinous ways to do life. Whether it's facing Mecca five times a day, hitch-hiking to the once weekly market, or tanning camel
hides by hand, one way is not even close to the only way. 3) People are people all over the world. Parents love their children. Kids throw tantrums in any language. Artists want to be recognized for their craft. And we all crave a need to belong (insert Maslow). For me, it's worthwhile to travel to not forget these things. Thank you for reading and following along!
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