Part 1 of the Morocco backpacking series: Backpacking through Morocco
May 4, 2008: Flying into Casablanca
On the plane to Casablanca (Dar-el-Beida), after a year of planning. I am having trouble sleeping because babies are crying in a orchestrated symphony. Their screams pierce through my earplug induced isolation. Nope, sleep is out of question. Why oh why did you bring your babies? Standing around in the hallway chatting in Arabic, oblivious of other people’s discomfort?
In six more hours I will be smack in the middle of a strange place. Still hasn’t hit me how fucked up that will be. I am just enjoying a momentary serenity in transit.
Taxi split: 25 Dihram
Train ticket Mark: 35 Dihram
Train ticket Peter: 35 Dihram
Room split: 220 Dihram
Phone card Peter: 20 Dihram
Phone card Mark: 20 Dihram
Tea split: 30 Dihram
Bread Peter: 1 Dihram
Mars bar Mark: 1 Dihram
Water split: 10 Dihram
Dinner split: 365 Dihram
Tea split: 14 Dihram
Spicey desert Peter: 3 Dihram
Mark exchanged for 1100 Dihram
Peter exchanged for 700 Dihram
Our first dose of the local flavor started with buying train tickets to where we want to go. Not knowing how the local transport works and how they charge, we went ahead and bought train tickets to our destination. I felt like an idiot repeating the name Casablanca and pointing around until the cashier understood what I meant. Maybe they drew amusement out of our confusion, I am glad that I at least served as entertainment of the day.
Can’t help but feeling ripped off like I’d feel in any foreign country after landing. From the desperate taxi driver who did everything for us for 25 DH to the bread shop owner who sold us a few pastries for 0.38 Dihram. I am constantly asking myself: “What is the right price? Am I paying double?”
There are a lot of Quebecois and French people, tourists that are white as ghosts and invades the streets with their towering castle of a bus. Oops my mistake, these are British and Americans. The French are more willing to go local, since most Moroccan speak French here.
We are spending our first day in Casablanca. It is pretty much a disappointment so far. One out of six encounters with the locals are nice, the rest turned out to be people selling secret “good” stuff, people who gouge you by doubling the price and people begging for money. I don’t think we’ve seen all the cities yet, but so far the impression I get isn’t very pleasant. We walked around trying to blend in as much as a white ghost and the only Chinese guy can in order to observe the population. Our guide, lonely planet said that Casablanca is a city which you won’t appreciate until you’ve toured the rest of Morocco. We’ll see about that.
On our first day in this strange country, we discovered that:
- They love soccer
- There’s no woman in scantly clad cloth
- Men love wearing suits, even in the heat
- Casablanca’s prices are all jacked up by tourism
- Everything is closed on Sundays
- The priest who scream for prayers have great lung capability