Wednesday, January 28

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It does not feel like Christmas at all. There is no tree, no presents to open, and none of my mom’s cinnamon rolls. At breakfast, my pastry had a bite taken out of it. Who does that, picks up a pastry from a buffet, takes a bite, then puts it back on the table? Yuck.

Today we drove to Casablanca. We’re back on good highways, so the trip went much faster. We saw field after field of beautiful orange and yellow flowers. Really bright and vivid colors.

Andrew and I loved Casablanca. We hadn’t heard much praise about it, but I think we like visiting cities perhaps. All the buildings were white, which had a very cool effect. As we drove though the neighborhoods with these large homes, it reminded me of Southern California, I think it was something about all the greenery and the type of architecture, maybe. The city was right on the Atlantic, so it had that ocean feel about it. Andrew said it smelled wonderful, like the ocean does, but my cold was keeping me from smelling anything. It just figures—Andrew couldn’t smell the stinky tannery with his cold, and I couldn’t smell the salty ocean. Unfair, I tell you.

Driving through the city we passed a school and saw a bunch of kids in their school uniforms. It was different, knowing that for us, today was a holiday, but for this Muslim country, it was just a day like any other. People were going to work and going about their lives, much the way I’m sure I do on Muslim holidays.

We also saw Rick’s Café. We were told, though, that there are actually several Rick’s Cafes, none of them authentic since the entire movie was filmed in Hollywood, not in Casablanca. Oh well, I still took a picture.
We stopped at this enormous mosque, a fairly new mosque. The minaret was beautiful green and blue. We were able to peek inside this mosque, though the darkness kept us from seeing much. We also visited the city center of Casablanca where we had some free time for lunch. Andrew and I found the most awesome Moroccan fast food place called the Fadi Grill, Chicken Restaurant. They had bright red and yellow décor, with real tablecloths and covered chairs. I had some sort of sandwich that was like chicken nuggets and ham and cheese on a bun, and Andrew ate chawarma in a wrap. Very good. Unlike any Christmas dinner I’ve ever had, but good.
We walked around this pedestrian-only street and did some window-shopping. Since it was Christmas, we decided to get ice cream. Because we couldn’t communicate very well with the worker, we ended up getting a cone instead of a cup, and it had whipped cream on it. I think it was gelato, actually, but who could really tell? It was delicious.
We left Casablanca after being there just a couple of hours and headed toward Rabat, the capital of Morocco. I think I slept the entire drive. In Rabat, we stopped at the royal palace, the king’s residence. Then we drove around and saw bits of the city, like the old medina walls, an old mosque, and a three- or four-hundred-year-old never-finished minaret. We saw the mausoleum of Mohammed 5 (or I think we did. Honestly, I was losing track of what we saw today). There were lots of columns there, just out in the middle of this square. Rabat doesn’t seem very nice. It looks kind of rundown and dirty. But I’m quick to judge, since we haven’t spent much time here or seen very much.
It was getting dark by the time we reached our hotel. Andrew and I took a walk around the block, intending to head to the medina. But when it was dark and we didn’t know where we were going, we reconsidered and went back to the hotel. Since it was Christmas, I called my family to say hello. It turned out that our phones wouldn’t work there (the phones which we just bought specifically so we would have phones to use on this trip, phones we asked T-Mobile repeatedly about whether they would work here and we were assured that yes, they would. Stupid T-Mobile people). I checked with the front desk to see how much international calls cost from the room and found out it was 10dh/minute. Since I only planned to talk for five or ten minutes, I went ahead and called Courtney’s house (my parents went to Pennsylvania for Christmas this year). My BIL Zach answered the phone, so I chatted with him, then talked to my mom, then my dad, then Courtney. Andrew kept signaling for me to wrap it up. I ended up making a 300dirham/30 euro/$45 phone call. Whoops. But it was good to hear everyone’s voices. Sounds like Austin is adorable and they’re having a good holiday.

Our dinner was at the hotel tonight, and it was quite good. We got chocolate mousse, so I was happy. After dinner, we had a glass of wine with Mark and Natalie in their room while watching The Bourne Identity on TV. I didn’t stay long. I’ve still got this cold, and tomorrow is our early early day, where we have to leave the hotel at 4:00am in order to get to the ferry on time, so I wanted to get to bed early.