July 3rd 2016, Casablanca, Morocco
Kindness is what keeps us human in this hectic world.
It’s early morning, I’m right after a great Omani adventure…
Oh, Rick (Blaine, from the movie), I’m traveling to Casablanca for the first time.
…yet again, to meet my destiny.
…but I don’t know it yet, although I know it deep down, my soul knows.
Every now and then, on the paths of life, you lose. You lose in love, you lose your photos from the whole trip, you lose your soul or you lose something you wrote, which is about the same for some people. I lost my diary on Casablanca and let me tell you, it was intense. Maybe it was supposed to be rewritten, so here it goes…
This month was Morocco month. Having two trips at a distance of 10 days seemed to open and close a cycle. And when a cycle is closed, it’s time for a fresh start.
Again, I met some key people, I went through some risk and danger, did not leave a day go by without going to the mosque, drank some wonderful Moroccan tea, threw some some feelings and thoughts at the bottom of the wild sea, photographed the people of Casablanca, let myself seduced…by the city.
He just let me…be and watched me like the fragile blossom I am. A flower wearing her armor around the world, in high up planes and in down below feelings.
Fell in love with you…looking at Casablanca, watching the waves break in the rhythm of my soul vibrations. Strong, wild, with rage, attacking with force and retreating with gracious moves. Leaving a foam of melancholy behind and leaving a smile on my face. One that can still see the scars.
The city is charming and has a distinctive vibe which cannot go unnoticed from the very first seconds. It looks old and not too modern at first glance, but I love the arranged chaos of one of the biggest cities of Maghreb and the whole Africa.
The cars are super tiny and it’s impossible not to notice that coming from a huge, American, SUV lovers’ country. Petit Taxis are adorable, especially the very small and colorful ones. They are red and most of them are old versions of Romanian Dacia cars.
You might say it’s not the most civilized thing in the world, but being able to buy fresh oranges and fruit and vegetables in the street, from the street you live in, it’s a great luxury.
At Hotel Excelsior in the Place des Nations Unies, across the Souq, managing to catch a good picture with an old Mercedes on the foreground. Our hotel is nearby and I’m in room 1111. Many of those 11s in these trips, clearly indicating there is something about this country/city/place.
Loving the black and white geometrical motifs of the hotel. I wear my black and pink floral/mandala motifs caftan and am off to explore the city. It’s still Ramadan, one of the last days of this year’s Ramadan. Some of the colleagues are resting to go to pray to Mosque Hassan II for Iftar.
The girl I’m with is at her first layover and I remember the excitement of my first month. I still keep most of it, which is quite rare, but I cannot compare it with the exalted feeling I was on during the first months.
What do I need? Well…money. Dirhams – bills and coins.
On the streets of Casablanca. Fresh orange juice in the street, Café Les Negociants, The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Art Deco style around. Casablanca seems somehow familiar with it’s beauty, even the French I hear in the streets is music to my years and I love to be in a French speaking country that is not…France.
Two city train rails, like serpents, going parallel, then embracing a square with palm trees, in the middle of the white buildings with French balconies. Patisserie Glacier Salon de The. My green and blue ballerinas and long silk dress. The ultra new and technologically advanced train arrives in the station and the contrast is visible. Le Buffet Que J’aime. The kind of afternoon I love.
Cinema Empire and some blankets full with small things to sell. In Marwa store I buy two sheikha looking caftans in butterfly shape and floral prints. Bought from Casablanca for Casablanca – I will chose one for this trip and one for my next week’s trip. Fast forwarding ten days, he sees me and thinks I’m…maybe Japanese?
I walk through Bab Marrakech in the Souq, right past Globe Terestre, a metallic structure hiding…a lot of garbage underneath. This is the story of Casablanca, it’s a city of contrasts, mountains of dirt and garbage and luxurious places, forever changing scenery and people about the same. A melting pot of destinies, of businesses, of people who come and go, a crowd I can say I’m part of.
The market is like any other market, yet so simple. I heard it has nothing to do with the authenticity and size of the one in Fez or Marrakesh. Clothes, fakes, caftans, cactus fruit, some leather items, a Teleboutique where I pretend to call someone I used to know with my bracelet tied to a ring jewel I just bought. Red pieces of fabric with a green star on it (Moroccan flag), ladies doing henna by the walls of the market, a limousine in front of Air Algerie, more Art Deco, some Art Nouveau, half restored buildings, turquoise or blue wooden window protectors, a teddy bear hanging from a window…
Finally at the Mosque by Petit Taxi. It’s around 6PM and very windy. Temperature dropped to 20 degrees and I’m really cold. Consider two days ago I was in Oman, where there were almost 50 degrees. Should this be another contrast of my fast life?
Fascinated with the colored tiles and the patters of the mosque. Islamic Art is for sure fascinating me. Fascinated in a deep, meaningful way, that to the end way. It’s a kind of beauty, a part of art I identify myself with. The only one. Islamic art makes me burst with joy on the inside.
Around two hours later and it’s already dark. The waves, the wind, the ocean, the mosque. When I’m thinking he was only a few meters away from me and I did not know him and he did not know me makes me shiver.
Do you ever wander what other people are doing at a certain moment? If you are in the same city in Asia at the same time with someone you will meet next year in Europe. What is the person you will meet in 5 years time doing right now? What are they going through? Where is your soulmate? Are they happy, did they pass by you today?
Walking the streets of Casa without any destination. It’s getting dark and I’ve been warned not to walk at night in the city, especially by myself, but how many things haven’t I been warned about? And still did whatever I wanted.
We get a taxi to Rick’s Café Americain Casablanca. All I knew was that Casablanca will bring a lot to me. And it did…I just did not know it yet.
We get a table in the middle of the restaurant – it has around 10 small tables on the first floor – right in front of the band. Candle light, cozy atmosphere, bringing up something to do with mystery and a safe place during…war? A place of fancy suites, good wine and spies. Love stories that have no future and flying to the next mission. Or maybe staying forever…
For some kind of reason, I have always been fascinated with those perdition places where people gather to drink and, oh well…drink during war. That’s why, in Bucharest, one of my favorite places is…Athenee Palace.
You know I’ve never seen Casablanca, the movie? I have too many movies in my head to watch movies, but when he used to visit, he woul always come up with a quote from the movie and make some kind of reference to me.
The menu a the Cafe Americain is not too diverse, yet the lamb chops I ordered were delicious, a huge portion tasting great, together with 4 small plates with different vegetables cooked with different spices or in different ways – Arabic mezze. Really delicious, together with a glass of Moroccan rose wine.
Night is about to be over, but I get a phone call and he takes we go to Ain Diab. We walked for hours and talked about men and women, about relationships, marriages, Mohamads and other devils.
Drank my first Moroccan tea and loved it – that’s a wow for someone like me who thinks tea is for sick people, stepped into most of the night clubs, thought about having another drink at Brooklyn and walked back by the huge pools, right by the ocean shore.
Back at the hotel, I walk by the interior huge pool. Lights are off and my thoughts are somewhere far, maybe to the depths of the ocean or the heights of the sky.