0646 A City Built Yesterday (Mor 214—new)

Deroua Travel Blog

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The day is still very young and I’d really like to discover something more--  and according to Google Earth, there should be a “town” not too far down the road, although I don’t know if it’s really a town or just some lifeless, upscale suburb out in the middle of nowhere… anyways, I decide to continue on south.

There are plenty of collective taxis heading this way, but I decide to brave the scorching heat and walk instead.  I figure, since I plan on doing some desert treks this summer--  both in Morocco and abroad--  I’d better start conditioning myself for walking in the scorching sun.

It’s not too bad of a walk… past golden wheatfields waiting to be harvested.  A couple of years ago this would have been a lifeless wasteland as decades long drought had caused much of Morocco’s farmland to sit idle… but now there’s a sense of purpose and productivity to the region.

  Here and there modest farmhouses dot the countryside.

Along the highway, I come across a couple of unusual vendors:  fountain and sculpture vendors.  The guy sits there by the side of the road carving out sections for the fountain out of huge blocks of stone--  some of which are as tall as 7 meters!  I haven’t seen any of these fountains in neighbourhood squares, so I’m assuming that they’re more for wealthy, private gardens.

Finally, I come upon a pleasant little eucalyptus forest where I take a break and strum for a bit.  Here locals rest in the shade and “stringers” weave their threads for jdellaba fringes…

On the other side of the forest, is a wall, with a dense shantytown like neighbourhood inside.

  It seems odd to find a shantytown like this out in the middle of nowhere--  generally shantytowns are in the middle of the city, where dwellers hope to be offered cheap land in exchange for “moving out” of their shacks so they can be demolished.

The fact that this one is walled, suggests that it might be for military families--  so I’m not sure if I should explore it or not… finally I decide to, figuring if I’m questioned I can just say I’m looking for a place to buy a cold drink…

The place is bustling with life, in contrast with the quiet surrounding countryside with a lot of young fellows loitering about, looking at me with curiosity.  Here’s where I decide to duck into a little cybercafé to try to put into words my feelings on my first day outside of Casablanca in several months (see beginning of Mediouna entry).

I hike up one straight alley and then down a “Main Alley” of sorts, lined with shops, little pool halls, live chicken stores, and of course a mosque—everything a Moroccan neighbourhood needs…

I’m getting some uncomfortable vibes from some of these guys that are looking at me, so I decide to not push my luck and head on out of the walled in village.

A memorable mini-adventure exploring this “middle of nowhere” shantytown.

On to Deroua


A sign says that I have entered “Nouasseur”--  but I figure there must be more to Nouasseur than just this shantytown, so I continue on further, where I see a modern neighbourhood way off in the distance.

  After a gruelling hike in the withering heat, past a military base and a large “future development” with streets and streetlights already all set up, I reach what I think is Nouasseur.

It looks like just another middle upper class development dropped in the middle of nowhere, with boxy 3 story houses and silent streets that suggest that not a lot of people actually live here yet… But as I continue on, very grateful to be able to walk in the shade for a change, this neighbourhood just goes on… and on… and on… until it suddenly strikes me that I’ve discovered a full blown city that’s not even on my map!

I finally find a shop where there are a couple of fellows taking it easy--  they seem friendly, and insist I play a few songs for them, then they tell me a bit about this place.

“This is Deroua--  Nouasseur is on the other side of the highway.  This city was a founded just a few years ago and is growing fast as Casablanca folks snap up relatively cheap plots to build a second home away from the noise and hassle of the city.”

…So that’s why it’s not on my map…

I feel pretty lucky to have “discovered” this place by accident, and eagerly set out to explore it from end to end.  Typical neighbourhood shops… patisseries, dry cleaners, cafes… are starting to pop up here, as well as a number of stately mosques, but the more I walk around, the more I get the feeling that Deroua was a “missed opportunity” in urban planning.  No parks or plazas… no pleasant places where you could take your family for an evening stroll… no commercial hubs where neighbors can run into each other and catch up on the gossip… No public transportation of any sort… This seems to be a city where people just come to sleep--  nothing more…

It’s a bit sad, it seems, since this city was to be built from scratch, and built very quickly, it would have been so easy to bring in a real urban planner to create a livable, model city, rather than just streets and boxy houses.

But I’m not going to complain too much--  I’m just happy to be wandering around a “city” rather than along a sun scorched highway…

At the far south end of Deroua, it finally starts to come to life a bit.  It looks like a lower middle class neighbourhood with horsecart taxis and more people out and about on the streets--  and even a bit of a commercial strip--  but still nothing really impressive or inspiring. 

Finally I head on back towards the highway, where Deroua’s post office and city hall are, and catch a collective taxi back to Casablanca.

It’s been good to be able to add two more towns to my collection--  and to keep up the momentum established by my Casablanca Supertour…

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photo by: nathanphil