Casablanca, Day 14 : The Southeast Corner

Casablanca Travel Blog

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Moulay Rachid Park

After my discovery of Derb Chechen yesterday, I know the rest of my tour is going to be gravy.  But I’m still looking forward to the new adventure’s I’ll have exploring Casablanca’s far eastside.


Discovery 115: Moulay Rachid Ladies Park   


I start out my day in Lalla Meriem and head straight east, determined to make it all the way the farthest southeastern corner of the city.  I pass through some rather unremarkable neighborhoods, stop for my standard breakfast of tea and mnsimmen… past a shanty outdoor market that hasn’t opened yet… a small stadium.

I’ve actually seem quite a few stadiums around the city and I wonder if they’re used much.  It seems folks here only care about their two city teams, Raja and Wydad--  I’ve never of anyone going to see a second division or neighbourhood team.


Beyond the stadium, down a cliff is another dusty football field and a beautiful park, so I find a path down the cliff to go check it out.  When I get there, try hard to suppress a grin… The place is packed with older djellaba wearing ladies--  some in their 60s perhaps, walking, jogging doing aerobics together.  It’s a beautiful sight and something that was probably unheard of a few years ago.  It’s something I’ve seen along the coast, but not that much in these neighborhoods way out in the suburbs.  It’s great to see the concept is catching on--  the idea that it’s OK for older women to get out of the house, get some exercise and fresh air, and not worry about what people are thinking about them.


But even I can’t help but chuckle seeing 70 year old hajjas doing aerobic dances in unison!


I find a bench a bit off too the side to play my songs--  I wouldn’t want to scare them off with my presence


            Music Spot 58: Moulay Rachid Park, Rating: *****

            Beautiful, shady, peaceful, and very interesting!


116 The Domed Mosque


I continue on through what is Moulay Rachid neighbourhood.

Anassi, after the pseudo-edge of town
  It has a pretty modern, “big city” feel with rows of apartment blocks and nice little cafés at street level.  I figure I’ll just continue on east all the way to the end of the city.

A domed mosque catches my eye.  You don’t see a lot of domed mosques here in Morocco, so I thought it deserved a mention.  I continue on, wandering the side streets and the city gets quieter and quieter.  I look to the left and to the right and see open fields just a few blocks a way--  it seems like this is a “finger” of the city that stretches out into the countryside. 


But where are the sprawling shantytowns of Sidi Moumen?  How did I miss them? 


117 The First “Edge” of Casablanca


The neighbourhood turns into a more upscale, villa neighbourhood that continues to narrow until it’s only 3 blocks or so wide.

Anassi Mosque
  It seems I’m way out in the middle of nowhere.  Finally I reach the tip.


I’m at the top of the ridge and gaze down a sloping field and… what do you know?  About a 1000 meters ahead, the city starts all over again!  It looks like an enormous development of identical apartment blocks, all clustered together like a massive fortress.


So this isn’t the edge of the city after all.  Gazing to the north I’m also able to figure out the mystery of the disappearing Sidi Moumen.  It looks like I’m in a completely different area south of Sidi Moumen, and there are cliffs that separate this area from that one.  These cliffs serve as a barrier between this upscale neighbourhood and the poorer neighborhoods below.


118 Anassi


I head down the ridge and along the main road to Anassi.  Suddenly I go from quiet open countryside to a very urban atmosphere churning with life.  The cookie cut apartment blocks might look a bit monotonous, but the bustle of activity makes up for that.  Anassi is a city all by itself--  and it looks like it was built by a single company… perhaps the biggest single urban development I’ve seen so far here.


The apartments have a simple, but pleasant design, with semi-covered driveways going through the middle with tiny little green spots tucked here and there.


119 Anassi mosque 


In the center, Anassi has a little commercial area, a bus stop area where several buses reach the end of their line, and an enormous fortress like mosque--  one of the largest I’ve seen in Casablanca. 


It seems that despite it’s “edge of town” location, Anassi has its share of superlatives.


Overall it feels like a pleasant place to live… plenty of shops of every type… a close neighbourhood feel--  but with open fields around that you can go for a stroll in if you feel you need some space.


Music Spot 59 Anassi, Rating:***

Not very shady, but a nice place to get sit and get a feel for the neighbourhood.


120 Death of a Shantytown


Beyond Anassi, th city continues on a bit further.  There’s some industry, a big school and the remains of an enormous shantytown.


Part of the shantytown is still in place, and part of it has been torn down, leaving nothing but trash and scattered rubble. But what I find interesting is that in the torn down area, here and there you seen a shanty still standing all by itself.  Apparently it people were not forced out--  but probably offered a plot of land elsewhere, or subsidized apartments.  Since all the shanties were interconnected it looks like it was a tricky process to knock down some and leave others standing.  The one’s they did leave look particularly decrepit, standing all alone in a trash strewn lot.


121 Frontier neighborhood  


Beyond Anassi and the shantytown, veering to the north a little bit is yet another neighbourhood, called “Azhar” according to the locals.  It’s a middle class neighbourhood of mainly apartments, but rather poorly designed with streets going every which way and no real rhyme or reason to the layout.  


So after wandering around a bit, I figure it’s time to head on back west once again--  this time to the north of Anassi, below the cliffs, through notorious Sidi Moumen.


Music Spot 60: Azhar Park, Rating: ***

OK… nothing really special about it.


122 Finally reaching Sidi Moumen  


Figuring out my way back from Azhar to Sidi Moumen is one the most confusing sections of my tour.  It should just be very simple:  Just take the main road heading west. But no, each time I try the road veers off to the north across the autoroute to Sidi Bernossi.  I want to finish exploring everything south of the autoroute before I mess with Sidi Bernossi, so I end up having to backtrack a ways to find another way east.  I end of trudging through some long, boring industrial strips past warehouses and factories--  including the Coca cola bottling plant… I wonder what Coca cola pays folks who work there...


The shantytowns are a bit frustrating too--  not that I don’t enjoy exploring shantytowns, but a lot of their alleys are dead ends and I’m just not in the mood for running into any more dead ends right now, so I have to make a big loop around them.


Finally after a frustrating tour through this maze of industry and poverty, I reach a cheerful, lively neighbourhood--  which I’m assuming is the “heart” of Sidi Moumen.  Here I decide to call it a day--  but not before strumming yet one more time in a little park outside a high school.


            Music Spot 61: Sidi Moumen High School, Rating: ***

Cheerful atmosphere but not much shade…didn’t get a crowd this time.

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Moulay Rachid Park
Moulay Rachid Park
Anassi, after the pseudo-edge of t…
Anassi, after the pseudo-edge of …
Anassi Mosque
Anassi Mosque
photo by: nathanphil