Casablanca, Day 10: Jolly Ben M’sik Neighborhood

Casablanca Travel Blog

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The Absolute Edge of the city

Today I’m going to start here near Casa’s southern border and slowly work my way towards downtown again… We’ll see how far I get…

 

Discover 083 South Mohammed VI Boulevard

 

I’ve heard that this is Casablanca’s widest boulevard, with a park stretching along its east side for at least a mile or so.  The park is fairly well maintained, giving a pleasant feel to the whole neighbourhood.  A place where retirees and students can chill out for a bit

 

            Music Spot 39: Mohammed VI South, Rating *****

            Shady, pleasant--  far enough from the boulevard to not be too noisy…

 

084 The Absolute Edge of Town

 

I reach what is clearly the edge of town… but I’ve got the itch to go a bit further just to be absolutely sure…

The highway is lined with your typical edge of town businesses… building supplies… truck repair… And folks selling watermelons out  of their trucks…


And then I see it--  the
second freeway!  This is the new freeway that’s built for folks who want to bypass Casablanca entirely--  coming from Rabat and heading towards Marrakech… I know I’m going to have to retrace my steps, but I’ve got to hike all the way to the other side, just so no one will ever be able to say that I didn’t reach the edge of Casablanca…

 

On the other side, there’s a gas station and a few other businesses… then open country.

Makdad Blvd
  The highway continues on towards Mediouna--  which I will tackle some other time--  and not on foot!

 

I turn around and head back, feeling quite satisfied with my accomplishment… On my way back I decide to relax in the shade and strum a few more songs…

 

            Music Spot 40: South Edge of Town: Rating: *****

Very nice… joined by an older fellow for a little bit--  a pleasant surprise… not too many older Moroccans care for my music…

 

085 Makdad Boulevard

 

A little ways down Mohamed VI and I reach a huge, 8 lane boulevard heading east, Makdad Blvd.

Mosque on Ben M'sik
  It seems a little odd to have such a wide boulevard right at the edge of town that goes from nowhere to nowhere… but then I notice all 8 lanes are pretty full…

 

It seems that as these outlying neighborhoods started filling up, someone had the foresight to make the streets nice and wide--  thus avoiding the congestion of the center of the city… This whole area actually has the feel of smart urban planning… Buildings clustered together to avoid ugly sprawl and allow people to walk to the markets and shops… and nice, wide boulevards to get you quickly from point A to point B…

 

But it is kind of funny to see open fields just two blocks away from an 8 lane street…

 

086 The Heart of Ben M’sik

 

I’m now in a new “Prefacture” of Casablanca, Ben M’sik… After travelling east a ways, I decide to head north again and look for the “heart” of this neighbourhood.  Soon I reach Coronel Driss Boulevard and one of the coolest snack shop strips in all of Casablanca.

Mosque along Mohammed VI
  Mnsimmen shops, juice bars, chicken rotisseries--  and even a couple of cafeteria style eateries… I’d love to live here for like a week or so, going up and down the street sampling all the different treats…

 

I find an unusual mosque with colourful tiles… of course, a market to explore… and a little plaza where the retired guys hang out in the shade…

 

            Music Spot 42: Coronel Driss Blvd: Rating ***

            Pleasant friendly spot--  but might have a hard time finding a seat in the shade here…

 

Ben M’sik definitely has a heart and a life of its own…

 

087 Euro Bus Row

 

Back on Mohammed VI Boulevard, I reach a spot that I find particularly exciting:  The Euro Bus Row.  This is where dozens of little agencies sell tickets for buses heading to France, Italy, Belguim and Holland.  Then in the evening, the buses come through and off you go…;

 

This is where my Great European Adventure started last summer… and it’s an exciting feeling to know that at any moment I could just show up here and for a couple hundred dirhams, be on a bus that’ll take me to entirely different world… some of the most fascinating places on earth…

 

This is the difference between living here and living in the USA… Here I’m just a bus ride away from exploring the rest of the world, whereas in the US I felt I was kind of trapped on an island…

 

088 Exploring Ben M’sik

 

I continue on north a short ways, until I reach another interesting street with park benches lined down the center… I pull out my guitar again and am soon joined by a bunch of schoolboys…

 

            Music Spot 43: North Ben M’sik. Rating: ***

            Fun, neighbourly feel… but no shade…

 

I continue on, snaking my way up and down the main streets and alleys, trying to soak in all I can of this lively, fascinating neighbourhood.  I reach yet another little plaza…

 

            Music spot 44: Near Afriquia Market, Rating: ****

            Fairly quiet and shady…

 

089 Afriquia Market

 

Then I reach Afriquia Boulevard, which runs alongside the freeway.  On the other side there’s a long wall with a hole in it.  I don’t see a lot of movement, but I suspect there might be a market in there, so I go to check it out…


Sure enough, it’s a large market that looks like it was transplanted right out of the remote countryside, with leaning stalls made out of scrapwood… miscellaneous sheets of plastic covering the walkways… a cramped, very “African” feel to it…


For a moment I forget that I’m in the middle of the Casablanca metropolis… Cool little discovery…

 

From there I cross the freeway once again heading north… and decide to call it a day…

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The Absolute Edge of the city
The Absolute Edge of the city
Makdad Blvd
Makdad Blvd
Mosque on Ben Msik
Mosque on Ben M'sik
Mosque along Mohammed VI
Mosque along Mohammed VI
Casablanca
photo by: nathanphil