0190. The biggest shantytown in Morocco (Mor 039--new)

Guercif Travel Blog

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View from my hotel roof

Guercif is the next town on the map heading east. 

 It used to be that the B rated bus lines all had these old rickety buses.  Well, now they've upgraded to newer buses--you know, the ones that are supposed to have air conditioning...thus, sealed windows. Only problem is that the air conditioning doesn't work.  Did I already mention "sealed windows?"  So nowadays I cross my fingers and hope for an old rickety bus that still has openable windows...

 Guercif doesn't have an old medina or castle on a mountaintop.  But it's got a nice vibe to it.  There's a plaza in the center with a big stone fountain where people hang out in the evening and you can get a bowl of harira and a tasty sheep gut sandwich. 

 But Guercif does have its claim to fame: it's got the biggest shantytown I've ever seen in Morocco.

  Cross the dry riverbed on a one lane bridge, walk through a lively neighborhood... about a half a mile of total emptiness and there it is... the brown earth buildings melt into the horizon giving it a distant, dreamy feel.

 Now, Moroccan shantytowns or "brrakas" aren't like the plastic and cardboard shacks that you'd see in, say Peru or the Philippines.  Many of the homes are of cinderblock (or sturdy earthen walls as in Guercif) and all are top off with your standard satellite dish.  But these are not legal homes--folks in these neighborhoods are waiting for the government to grant them plots of land, then the shantytowns will be torn down.   Thus, none of these home are more than one story high.  As I learned years ago in Ben Sergao, some of these folks aren't actually poor.  When the government granted plots of land to a shantytown in Ben Sergao, all of a sudden beautiful 3-4 story houses popped up out of nowhere!

 The Guercif shantytown has a very "African" feel--there aren't really any streets--just houses angled every which way, making it a really fun maze to to figure your way through.   Just when I thought I had weaved my way to a dead end, suddenly there was an opening and there I was, back at the dry riverbed with a path leading across...


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View from my hotel roof
View from my hotel roof
photo by: nathanphil