Last flight to Casablanca (12/29)index | next

I flew from San Francisco and was to meet Vic and Yang at JFK where we would all hop on a plane to Casablanca. Vic called before I left SF to let me know that their flight was canceled but that they'd be on another and that we'd just be "cutting it close" at JFK. Apparently, they even arrived thirty minutes before our Casablanca flight departed, but that copious amount of time was whittled away as they made the arduous trek from terminal to terminal and were then directed to the wrong desk for Air Maroc. By the time they finally found me at the proper Air Maroc desk, we had about ten minutes to check my bags and dodge our fellow travelers as we ran at high speed to the very last gate at the end of the lengthy terminal.

Welcome to Morocco. You might think this is where we touched down in Casablanca before switching to a smaller plane for our 30 minute flight from Casablanca to Marrakesh. But in fact, we traversed those few hundred kilometers in the largest, behemoth of a commercial airliner there is, a 747-400. It was reasonably full, to be fair, but I'm sure that is not the most efficient airplane for the route.

We then discovered the petit taxis and the Moroccan roads. At the time, I thought it was a small miracle that the myriad bicyclers, mopedders, and standers in the middle of the street weren't run over with more frequency, but after experiencing some real Moroccan driving in the inner cities later in the trip, I realized that we were on a leisurely, relaxing drive as we made our way into Marrakesh that day.

We had a day to kill before we made the journey out to Ouarzazate for the festival, so we checked into a hotel and went out on some adventures.

This blurry picture of the cobras is the only photo I have of the most popular tourist destination in the entire country: the Djemaa el-Fna, a big square where snake charmers do their thing and Moroccans of all sorts get creative about separating tourists from their dirhams.

From the square, we had our first brush with the markets, known as souqs. You'll see pictures of those later. We wandered aimlessly down narrow paths lined with stores, each stationed with a Moroccan doing everything they can think of to get you into their store to buy something. Heaven forbid you make eye contact with one of them, that's an invitation for a ten minute sustained barrage of questions, suggestions and sales pitches.

We finally took a turn that led us out of the twisty maze of passages all alike, and emerged onto the street where I discovered this lovely fountain. Apparently these fountains are sprinkled all over and one can obtain fresh water from them. Plumbing is by no means ubiquitous in these parts.

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