The Streets of Casablanca

Casablanca on a Saturday night is noisier than I expected.  The traffic is nowhere near the manic 24-hour constant whir that you find in Bangkok, but the noise from the street rushes rather than filters into my hotel room in Derb Omar, a busy suburb within walking distance of the old Medina.
I’m so tired though, I don’t care.  Getting here has been a long journey – 9 cramped hours in Economy class from Cape Town to Dubai, another 6 hours willing away time at Gate C9 awaiting my 4am connecting flight, then 8½ more cramped hours in the air from Dubai to the town the Portuguese built on the Atlantic coast of Morocco in 1515 and named White House.  Being winter it’s dark by 6.30pm.  I’m already in bed and switch the TV off knowing I won’t even make 5 minutes before I collapse for some well-deserved sleep.
Casa is colder than I expected and I curse myself for packing mainly summer clothes.  What was I thinking?  Morocco’s a hot country right?  Well yes but not in winter and I would pick the coldest winter in a decade to tour Morocco, wouldn’t I?
My first impressions of the city – the view from my taxi to my hotel – are of washing and satellite dishes absolutely everywhere.
The next morning I hit the streets:  The architecture is a combination of decay and charm.  A layer of grime and pollution clings to the whitewashed art deco buildings like cheap rouge on a fading starlet, but overlook that and the peeling paint and the arabesque twirls and wrought ironwork that adorn the buildings bear testimony to a grand era and the skilled master craftsmen of years gone by.
British author Tahir Shah, who lives in Casa, once called the city Morocco’s unsung jewel and despite the shaky start of being unable to draw money from the first 7 ATM’s I try (the 8th bank worked!), I fall in love with the streets of this busy portside city that effortlessly blends African and European culture.
My first blog post, I already know as I photograph the sidewalk cafes opening in the pale winter Sunday morning sunlight, will be all about the streets of Casablanca 🙂
the-streets-of-casa-19-of-40 the-streets-of-casa-22-of-40 the-streets-of-casa-24-of-40
the-streets-of-casa-4-of-40 the-streets-of-casa-5-of-40
the-streets-of-casa-3-of-40 the-streets-of-casa-14-of-40

8 thoughts on “The Streets of Casablanca

  1. I loathed Casablanca. We (ex and two very young children) arrived there via trains from Algeria – a long and equally tiring journey – back in 1979 and I don’t know what I was expecting but Casablanca wasn’t it. We left pretty much immediately (after being invited to a house on the coast by a German guy we met in a coffee shop who seemed to ‘like’ me), on a bus to Tangiers. Not sure that was much better. I’d had enough of north Africa at that stage. I do like your portrait of the streets – old and new lives intertwined. The amount of decay is slightly depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were probably expecting Rick’s Cafe filled with smoke and Bougart and Bergman embracing in the shadows.

      The amount of litter on the streets was also depressing but cleaning teams were hard at work long before the cafes opened in the mornings. I don’t think they can keep up. Probably a population thing – about 3.5-million people live in Casablanca.

      I returned to Casa for two days after Marrakech and it was a welcome respite. I absolutely loathed Marrakech and couldn’t see what the allure was or the fuss in the travel publications to be honest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never seen the film, but I suppose there is some kind of romanticism associated with the name which I must have absorbed. Never been to Marrakech either, so I shall be interested to see what you found there.


  2. Interesting decadent environment.
    And yes, definitely, we all expect a kind of romantic allure from this city, which may not exist, as proven in your pictures.
    Anyways I do like all your shots, a pure and authentic reflection of street life in Morocco.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is the aggressive writing, the aggressive description of how your sense of hearing was disturbed straight away–the only thing that saved you was the fatigue from 9hrs flying.

    You described it thusly: ‘Casablanca on a Saturday night is noisier than I expected. The traffic is nowhere near the manic 24-hour constant whir that you find in Bangkok, but the noise from the street rushes rather than filters into my hotel room…’ Now I will get on with the rest of your post. 🙂


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