Thursday and Friday - Casablanca
Casablanca Travel Blog› entry 10 of 17 › view all entries
Thursday I wanted to go to Essouira, a nice costal town that is supposed to be really chilled, but I still didn't have plans for Shabbos, so I thought it would be more prudent to head off to Casablanca, where it would be easier to make plans on the ground. I got some stuff done there, but I was told to come back Friday to finalize them. There's really nothing to do in Casablanca, so I wandered around and saw some the city. I can't really figure out what passed the time, because I didn't really do anything the whole time I was there. However, I think it was good to be in the city simply to compare it to Marrakech. They are night and day. Marrakech was just completely divorced from normalcy. The entire city is one big shuk (souq in Arabic), and after seeing it I could not imagine anyone voluntarily living in Morocco (no offense to any Moroccans out there). Casablanca, on the other hand, is a completely normal, livable city. Reminded me a lot like Ramat Gan or any other Israeli city. I saw the Jewish day school, Neve Chalom (which is where my shabbos hookup came from) and I went to one of the kosher restaurants, Leviathan.
Food was good, service was terrible. I apparently got there in between the lunch and the dinner times, so they were closed. OK, I said, I'll come back. We communicated in Hebrew. "No, no, we can make you something now," they said. Except they didn't really have anything to make me because the oven was off. So they lit the coal grill, but it didn't really work, and twenty minutes later they were still trying to get my food cooking. I told them I was happy to come back later, but they insisted. Then the guy says this: "We usually don't have a problem with the oven, but that's when we are in normal business hours when we have lots of customers and we are not going out of our way special just for one person." Then he locks the door and closes the lights and makes me eat in a dark, locked room. And he thinks he's doing me the biggest favor for making me food when they are closed, when I'd much rather eat during normal hours when there are people there and the oven works. Jerk. Plus the staff was screaming at each other at the top of their lungs the whole time. I felt like I was in the middle of some family dispute. Leviathan does not get my recommendation.
The next day, I moved hotels to one closer to the Jewish community (I had no idea where it was until Thursday when I went there - there is absolutely no information available on the internet). I also walked around the city a little bit more. I went back to the day school where I finalized shabbos plans, and they were very nice and served me some of the school lunch while I waiting in the principal's office. Their food is a million times better than any elementary school in the States, I'll tell you that.
Then I worked on getting out Casablanca and Morocco itself. I was originally planning to take the train to Tangier and then take the ferry back to southern Spain, but I ended up finding a really cheap ticket straight from Casablanca to Barcelona, for about the same cost as the ferry. Except for some reason you can only buy it through the website if you are a Moroccan citizen with a Moroccan credit card. So I had to track down a travel agency that sold tickets on this budget airline. And most agencies were not agents of this particular airline (Jet4you.com). Finally I found the right travel agency, booked a ticket, then when I got back to hotel I looked at the itinerary and saw that they spelled my name wrong, so I had to go back get it fixed. So pretty much I spent two days in Casablanca not really doing anything I wanted to do, just making shabbos plans and trying to make travel arrangements back to Spain. Of course, there is ample precedent for an entire stay in Casablanca being spent making plans for the future and trying to leave the country. I felt like Victor Lazlo - all I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there as soon as I could get my travel papers. I got ready for shabbos, wondering if shabbos would also be a bomb like the last two days.