0235. Finally, Rommani (Mor 083--new)

Rommani Travel Blog

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Episode 09: Rabat Suburbs

 I've taken a 10 week hiatus from wandering... After my trip to Al Hoceima, I was a bit low on cash and had some other stuff I needed to focus on.

...But the Call of the Wild keeps getting stronger and stronger...

I've determined to make a fairly major trip at the end of the year... Don't know for sure where--but if it happens to be South, I want to be ready.

So today I got up before dawn to take the early morning commuter train up to Rabat--a very spiffy two-level train surrounded by gentlemen in suits and ties.  Land in Rabat--figure I have no time to waste, so I grab a cab to the Souissi district--a sprawling neighborhood of walled in villas where most of the embassies are located.

  I’m still a bit early so I wander around looking for the best looking embassy.

...And the winner is... Iran!  Saudi Arabia has a much larger, very impressive embassy, but I find Iran's Embassy to be unique and charming.

The Mauritanian consulate opens right on time--I stand in line with a motley crew of Moroccan businessmen, rugged European adventurers and Mauritanian natives.  The consulate is about the size of a closet, so I have to fill out my forms outside on the sidewalk--but no, I am NOT complaining!

I’m told to come back tomorrow--so I've got over 24 hours to kill.  Fortunately, I'm prepared.  I've got my guitar and my camera.  So we're gonna do some parkbenching...

No reason to rush things.  After all, even though Rabat has been parkbenched, there's still a lot to see here in Rabat--not to mention, some of the best street food in the world.

  I hike through the rather boring residential neighborhoods until I finally see the First City Wall in the distance.  But another gateway off to my right catches my attention, so I go to check it out... and it is... The Chellah Ruins!  I eagerly head inside... I love in when I find these sorts of things by accident...

 

Chellah was a Roman "frontier" fort--south of here was never really conquered.  Unlike Volubilis, an Arab city was later built on top of it--thus it doesn't have a purely Roman feel.  It is quite fascinating seeing the blend of the two great civilizations.  And to the east is a magnificent view of the river and the cliffs of Sale beyond...

 

After exploring Chellah a while, I head into town, take a couple more pictures and clips--go into the old medina to enjoy the special Rabati delicacies... the crisp, fresh pastries, the fruit salad with raib... and then to the best of the all:  "Brain Alley"

 

This is an alley in the old medina lined with little eateries that specialize in one thing:  Cow Head.  Here's what they do:  Each one has an enormous pot where they steam a couple of cow heads.  Then the pull out the head and for 20 Dh you can get a sampling of all the delicious parts of the cow head... the tongue, the cheek, the brains, the lips... I tell you, you have not really lived life if you haven't tried Cow Head in Rabat, Morocco...

So after my delicious lunch, I knew it’s time to go blaze some new territory.  And I know exactly where that new territory would be:

Rommani.

I've tried to get there twice from Casablanca, but never could find timely transport.  This time I'm more determined than ever.  I sneak aboard the train for a free commute down to the Agdal station--then down to the bus station where I board a scrappy old bus heading to Rommani.  It's a long, 3 hour trip through Rabat suburb towns and twisting through the hills--then finally I see a cluster of homes tuckde between a couple of emerald hills.

Rommani definitely doesn't deserve to be in bold type on the map.  No wonder I couldn't find transportation out this way...

I get the feeling that  1,  there are no hotels in Rommani  and 2,  It will soon be too late to find transportation back into town.   But after all the effort I went into to get here, I'm not just going to turn around and go back, so I head out to explore.

Rommani is a non centralized town, with several neighborhoods clustered in different spots.  I keep climbing up a ridge, especting to find the "real" Rommani on the other side, but that never happens.   Finally, well after dark,  I sit down to play my set near the "horse statue"...  A couple of guys come over to listen.  One fellow, Yassine, graciously invited me to stay the night at his place...

So it looks like I'll be couchsurfing in Rommani, old school style. 

We all go down to the creek to play some more music, then, since it's a bit chilly, we go hang out at the local overcrowded pool hall.  Someone tells Yassine that we need to inform the police if a foreigner is going to stay at his house, so we head up to the town Gendarme Post where a couple cheerful cops write down our info on a piece of scratch paper...

Yassine is a professional chef and he prepares a delicious meal with some meat from L'Eid Kbir that they still have left.  His father and brother are also quite friendly...

Next day we head up to wander around town a bit more, before I bid farewell to my very hospitable host...

...Looks like Rommani was well worth the visit after all...

The irony?  a few days later, all the pictures on the memory card on my camera simply vanished...

...So it looks like I'm going to have to go back to Rommani again...

 

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photo by: nathanphil