322. The Shabbiest Village in Morocco (Mor 155--new)

Morhane Travel Blog

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Episode 08: Following the Coast North

Just a few days after my Essaouira tour, I head out on another sub-tour—this time, north.  I hop on a train to Kenitra—to use it as my lauchpad into another unknown region. 

It’s more of a clean up campaign, to parkbench some towns I missed on my trip from Tanger to Casablanca and back last year.  Kenitra is done—so I look at my map to see what’s next…

It takes me a little while to find the grand taxi to Moghrane, but I finally do and am soon riding across Kenitra’s fertile agricultural region—one of the breadbaskets of the country.  But when we reach Moghrane, my heart sinks.  It’s just… nothing… a few shacks in the middle of an open field…

But here’s where the taxi line ends, so I have to get out.


If Sidi Mokhtar is one of Morocco’s poorest cities, then Moghrane is one of its shabbiest.  The houses are basically lean tos with woven carrizo stalks as walls… The fences around the houses, the roads with ridiculously deep ruts… the whole place has the feel of a place where no one has any plans or ambitions for the future… Even the main mosque is only halfmade. 

It immediately takes me back to the villages in Sonora, Mexico that I grew up in.  In some of these villages, people are  perfectly content to spent their entire lives in tar paper shacks—while at the same time blowing huge amounts of money on extravagant parties.  The mentality seemed to be, live in the moment, enjoy life today… (I’m not saying that all folks in Sonora, Mexico are like this—just some segments of society)

But Moroccans in general, even poor Moroccans always tend to think about the future—and their number one priority seems to be to build a house out of solid material…

So what’s going on here in Moghrane?  I think I found a clue.  Nearby is what looks like a large river (though it’s more of a sea inlet).  I suspect that this area is prone to some serious flooding, thus discouraging folks from building large, solid homes…

I feel very conspicuous wandering up and down Moghrane’s tortured roads—clearly there’s no logical reason for a foreigner to be wandering around ugly, poor Moghrane—and that can be a problem here in Morocco.  If I were in a poor Ghanan village, people might assume I’m a Peace Corps worker… if I were in a poor Latin American village, people might assume I’m a Mormon missionary—but in a poor Moroccan village, well, there’s just no good explanation—and people here want explanations…
A couple of schoolgirls ask me… “Oh, I’m looking for an old friend, his name is Mohamed… I’m not sure exactly where he lives…”

So they follow me around, pointing out every house where a Mohamed lives!

“No, not that one… no it’s not that one either…” 

Finally they let me be and I head on back towards the main road, to catch a grand taxi on to the next town…

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photo by: nathanphil