Casablanca, Day 18: The Most Remote frontier of Casablanca
Casablanca Travel Blog› entry 86 of 92 › view all entries
Today I will reach the edge of Casablanca for the last time.
Discovery: 145 Sidi Bernossi Square
Next day I start right where I stopped yesterday: at the Sidi Bernossi square. Here I sit down to relax and soak in the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. I’m soon joined by a couple of middle age fellows. One of them, Khalid seems to be particularly inspired by my music and asks if I can play Hotel California. He sings along without missing a beat… and then another song and then another.
It’s a very fun little encounter. I don’t get a lot of middle age guys who join me for a singalong. He says that he’s the responsible for one of the bus lines, and even though his coworkers keep calling him to get to work, he can’t seem to be able to pull away… He spends a full hour with me there, belting out song after song.
“Music is in my blood” he tells me.
Looks like my day is getting off to a very interesting start.
Music Spot 73: Sidi Bernossi Mosque Square, Rating: *****
Great encounter here…
146 Breakfast bar
I continue on my way down a very pleasant Main Street. Sidi Bernossi seems to be a perfectly balanced neighbourhood. Neither too fancy nor too scrappy, neither to spacious nor too cramped.
The I come across the first “upscale” mnsimmen shop. Here you can choose from 10 different traditional Moroccan breakfasts: mnsimmen, harcha, begrir, bitbot, etc. etc. and a glass of tea and eat in a shiny, eating room with mirrors and tiled walls.
I opt for begrir this time, and enjoy a unique experience. Right outside is yet another square in next to a wall with some interesting paintings.
Music Spot 74: Paintings Park, Rating: ****
Quiet, with some shade…
I head south a little ways, wandering in and out of the various neighborhoods… soon I find yet another shady plaza.
Music Spot 75: Sidi Bernossi Shady Plaza, Rating: *****
Another peaceful, shady spot…
147 Quiet Neighborhoods
The neighborhoods get quieter and quieter as I gradually approach the edge of town. Here I find some middle class “gated communities” closed off streets with a guard at the entrance. It seems people out here really value their privacy.
To the north I can see a small industrial strip and then the ocean… to the south, just a little ways away is the Autoroute.
148 The Edge
And then it happens, I come to the end of the block, and there in front of me is an open field. A kilometre or two beyond city starts again… Could it be? Is there more of Casablanca beyond?
No. The spires of the refinery are clearly visible not far off. That is Mohammedia. That is an entirely different city.
At first I’m tempted to just keep walking. It’d be pretty cool to say that I hiked all the way to Mohammedia. But I decide against it. I need to finish my Casablanca tour before starting something new, and to do so, I need to head west one last time and end my journey right where it started: at Bab Marrakech.
So somewhat reluctantly I turn around and head back into town. I follow the Rabat highway for a little ways, but it’s pretty boring, so I head back into explore the Sidi Bernossi neighborhoods a bit more. Soon I find another little commercial strip, an “end of the line” bus stop, and a little grassy square.
Music Spot 76: Sidi Bernossi East, Rating: ***
All the shady benches were taken, other than that it was fine…
149 Sidi Bernossi Main Market
Winding up and down Sidi Bernossi’s lively back alleys, I come across yet another square with kids playing soccer and old men chatting in the shade. Sidi Bernossi certainly has no shortage of spots to play music in!
Music Spot 77: Sidi Bernossi Neighborhood Plaza, Rating: ****
A good spot to observe neighbourhood life…
Continuing on I reach Sidi Bernossi’s main market area, which includes a rather cramped indoor market and a colourful street vegetable market. Fun place to wander around.
150 Gears Park
At the north west edge of Sidi Bernossi, is yet another park with an unusual monument in the center: A couple of gears interlocked together. I’m assuming this is in honor of all the industry there is in this part of town. I guess it’s an appropriate monument. If it weren’t for all the ugly industry out here on the eastside, Casablanca would not be the economic powerhouse that it is.
Music Spot 78: Gears Park, Rating: *****
Shady, clean-- nice farewell to Sidi Bernossi
151 Ain Sebaa Train Station
Finally I must bid friendly Sidi Bernossi farewell and head back into the No Man’s Land of factories and empty lots of Ain Sebaa. On the way I come across the Ain Sebaa Train Station. It seems to be put in the wrong place-- there are no houses anywhere nearby, just a big grain silo. It seems it would make sense to move it a mile up the road and then folks could use it to commute between Sidi Bernossi and Downtown Casablanca… Just a thought.
153 Ain Sebaa Mosque and Market
In order to not retrace my steps, I’m going to need to head north a little bit further towards the coast, so I take the only road that goes north. But instead of the ugly industrial area I was expecting, it’s actually a quite attractive neighbourhood of upscale villas, life, and kids heading home from school! What a pleasant surprise! Maybe I was too quick in judging Ain Sebaa.
Now normally I turn up my nose at villa neighborhoods, but when I was expecting ugly warehouses, this is absolutely beautiful. I continue on down the road towards the coast, to big mosque with folks coming out from noontime prayer and another cozy little market right next to it.
I think I need to give Ain Sebaa a second chance and explore it a little more. But that will be another day.