Casablanca: Day 3: The Wild West
Casablanca Travel Blog› entry 71 of 92 › view all entries
The last two days Iâ€™ve spent exploring somewhat well known touristy areas-- the Old Medina and the coast. Well, today Iâ€™m heading to an area that is definitely not in any guidebooks: The Westside neighborhoods of
Discovery 024: The Hay Hassani Main Mosque
From Sidi Abderrahman Village, follow up the coast a little ways and then take a road that goes inland, past a couple of wheatfields and an equestrian park, and up a ridge to the Dar Boazza highway-- a highway that follows the coast all the way to Azemmour. Here I veer east back towards Casa, through a boring upscale neighbourhood, past an enormous junkyard, and finally into the heart of Hay Hassani.
Here I come across a long, shady park along the boulevard with an endless supply of available parkbenches. In the center, is a beautiful elaborately decorated mosqueâ€¦ a very pleasant welcome to the neighbourhood.
Music Spot 09:
Shady and peaceful-- just a little bit noisy with the nearby highwayâ€¦
Past the mosque, a uniformed policeman comes towards me with a big grin and hand extended. Iâ€™m used to being approached by policemen-- but never in this manner! It turns out that heâ€™s one of the guys who Iâ€™m stopped to chat with, sitting by the side of the road on the way to
025: Hay Hassani Market and Square
From there I dive into â€śdowntownâ€ť Hay Hassani, and immediately feel a liking for this neighbourhood-- which feels more like a city of its own with its commercial strip, market, and a park/square with a couple of cafĂ©s in the center.
Rows of mnsimmen and doughnut shops line the streets with folks clustered grabbing a quick breakfast. The streets are a bit dirty, the houses are a bit shabby, but thereâ€™s a cozy, neighbourly feel hereâ€¦
I wander the market a bit then pull out my guitar in the humble but cheery square.
Music Spot 10:
Quiet, shady, peaceful-- people seem a little shy here about approaching a guy with a
guitar here thoughâ€¦
026: Raja/Wydad Football Teams Graffiti Contest
I continue up a Hay Hassani â€ś
027: Another Beautiful Mosque
When I reach another boulevard, I decide to head west this time to see what else there is to discover out this way. I come across another market which it seems specializes in piles and piles of used appliances and furnitureâ€¦
On the other side is yet another impressive mosque.
028: Oulfa Neighborhood
Oulfa is the next neighbourhood to the south of â€śdowntownâ€ť Hay Hassani, and Main Stree Oulfa has quite a different feel-- more businesslike with steel and glass office buildings rather than cozy cafesâ€¦
Here the boulevards are wider, with parkbenches and trees in the center, and thereâ€™s a mix of middle and upper class housing.
Itâ€™s a nice break to see all the open space and to see different social levels living together, but at the same time, it feels a bit lonely and sterile-- a bit more like, say, an American suburbâ€¦
Music Spot 11:
Noisy, no shadeâ€¦not a good place to play musicâ€¦
029: Commercial strip on the
I continue on north to the edge of Oulfa.
Not far beyond, a group of jr. high school girls beg me to play a song for them. After a quick glance around to see if there were any disapproving stares, I decided to acceptâ€¦ A jolly bunchâ€¦
030: Lisassfa Market
The city seems to be petering out, with vast open fields, still undeveloped and the first shepherds tending to their flockâ€¦ But I know thereâ€™s still more city to explore: Lisassfa. Never been there, so Iâ€™m eager for a brand new discovery.
The road meanders around a bit, and then suddenly, over a ridge, a whole new mini-city appears.
At the edge thereâ€™s a large park, so I go ahead and sit down for another session. While Iâ€™m playing, a couple of guys holler out at meâ€¦ I look overâ€¦ Theyâ€™re the same guys who asked me for a song yesterday in
Music Spot 12: Lisassfa
Interesting crowd, lively, neighbourly feel, but not a lot of shadeâ€¦
I continue on into the heart of Lisassfa, into a modern, spacious two story market-- that only seems to be lacking in customers.
The street market continues on through the side streets halfway across town, give the whole town more of the feel of a market town in the middle of the plains somewhere, rather than a
One of my students summed it up nicely, â€śLisassfa is the
And so I decide to wrap up my third day of discovery with this truly unique neighbourhood... Didnâ€™t really take any pictures-- just doesnâ€™t feel like the kind of place where youâ€™d want to whip out your digital camera in the middle of the street... just a picture of the mosque...
I wander around Lisassfa a bit more, reluctant to bring this day to a close.
Itâ€™s a mix of fairly nice buildings with well trimmed gardens, and then a section that looks like a cheaply built elementary school surrounded by weeds. But the lack of architectural glamour is compensated for by the energy you feel in the students. This place encapsules the dreams, ambitions and future of this country.
Several times I hear someone call out my name-- a lot of my students study here it seemsâ€¦
I come across an outdoor display of pro-Palestinian posters and cartoons-- a lot more graphic and edgy than what Iâ€™m used to seeing in
It seems a fitting way to bring my third day of wandering to a closeâ€¦