Casablanca, Day 16: Hay Mohammedi
Casablanca Travel Blog› entry 84 of 92 › view all entries
Today I intend to go all the way to the easternmost tip of Casablanca-- but end up doing a loop in just one neighbourhood.
130 Hay Mourad
I start my day in a quiet neighbourhood just north of the freeway, Hay Mourad. Here the apartments have more of a “government project” feel-- a bit boxy, no shops at street level and in serious need of a paint job. There’s a little garden right along the freeway, but no benches, so I decide to skip it.
I reach Boulevard Tachfine which is a diagonal boulevard that connects Sidi Moumen with the rest of the city.
131 Central Hay Mohammedi
Right on the other side of Tachfine Boulevard is a very lively neighbourhood called Hay Mohammedi (not to be confused with Mohammedia, a city east of Casablanca.) It’s a major transportation hub especially for collective taxis, and at rush hour Mohammedi market is probably the busiest, most chaotic spot in the whole city.
But now it’s early morning and things are pretty calm. The market still isn’t up and running yet and the street sweepers still haven’t swept up the trash scattered from yesterday. But the memories of experiencing the absolute pandemonium of this spot almost 2 years ago right as Ramadan break-fast time was approaching are still fresh.
132 Open Air Market
Continuing on north is another single alley open air market, with a shantytown off to the side. It’s also pretty quiet, with just folks heading off to school and work. At the other end I reach a busy east west street which looks like an important artery connecting Hay Mohammedi with neighborhoods to the east. The street is lined with palms and a pedestrian walkway-- a bit scruffy, but still with a faded charm.
Musi Spot 67: Hay Mohammedi Boulevard, Rating: **
Too much traffic around and little shade.
133 Reentering Hay Mohammedi
This street continues on for a ways, through a commercial strip of various shops before suddenly turning into an ugly, semi-abandoned industrial area. It looks like I’ve reached Ain Sebaa industrial zone-- an area I wasn’t really looking forward to hiking through. Mostly just walls and trucks park beside the road… There is a stadium out in the middle of nowhere, but I frankly doubt anyone uses it anymore. The whole area has a rather forlorn, unfriendly feel.
The road finally hits a T… after a bit of debate, I decide to head north, to look for another way to continue on east to downtown Ain Sebaa. But when I see a residential neighbourhood off to the west, I can’t resist the invitation. So I loop back towards Hay Mohammedi once again.
The cheerful cafes are so welcoming after the dreary walk around the industrial area-- and to top it off, there’s even a little decorated “gateway” welcoming me back.
134 East Market
I continue on in Hay Mohammedi once again, sometimes on the main street, sometimes down the side streets and alleys to discover everything I can. I find this area particularly colourful-- with brightly painted private schools brightening up the landscape.
I reach another market area, this one a street market in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, with vegetable vendors opening up for the day. The sight of a butcher shaving the face of a cow head is particularly memorable-- I imagine a Gillette commercial with a bearded Moroccan butcher shaving a cow head with the title “Everybody can find a use for a razor…”
I’ve already had breakfast, but I still can’t resist the temptation to stop at an mnsimmen shop looking out onto the market to enjoy the vibe. There’s something particularly cozy about Hay Mohammedi. With the Autoroute cutting it off on the south and ugly industrial zones on the east, west and north it has had the chance to create its own distinctive identity. It’s has an older, grittier feel with mostly single family homes rather than apartments built along narrow alleys and streets. I finally find a quiet little plaza.
Music Spot 68: Hay Mohammedi Little Plaza, Rating: ***
Pretty scruffy with only one usable bench.
I continue on back through downtown Hay Mohammedi, and on west back towards central Casablanca. Outside a small military facility, I find another shady strip with some benches.
Musi Spot 69: Hay Mohammedi Shady Street, Rating: ***
Pleasant quiet spot, would have been nice if not for a glue sniffer coming and asking for money.
135 Tachfine Boulevard
I head north a bit more and the west once again through a mixed residential-industrial area until I finally reach Boulevard Tachfine. This boulevard doesn’t have quite the same charm as Mohammed VI or 2 Mars-- but it does have a couple of huge middle class apartment complexes built around their own little park in the middle. It’s nice to see a building design that really tries to create a pleasant atmosphere for the residents.
From here I head west a bit farther, hoping to do one last little loop in the area between Tachfine and Ouled Ziane. But I end up stuck in a monotonous warehouse area with no side streets, so I hike all the way to Ouled Ziane Boulevard and decide to call it a day. I didn’t cover a lot of territory today, but I think Hay Mohammedi was worth a full day of exploration. I’ll try to make it farther east tomorrow