Casablanca: Day Two

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Today’s mission is the Palais Royale and the souk in the Habous Quarter, an old, clean, pleasant market of Moroccan clothes and wares. Though there is nothing we need, we are entranced by it all and end up purchasing a pair of his-and-hers flowing djellabas. Mine is very Obi-Wan-Kenobi, with its sandy colors and long hood, and Tay’s is a rough-textured brown, simple with earthy flare. There is also an olive market, an oil and perfume stall, and many, many hats to try on.

Another highlight is using the public urinal behind the mosque, an airy, cold-stone room, with a long pool of clear water surrounded by squat toilet stalls. Men are washing their feet around the pool, in preparation for midday prayers, as light streams in through the vaulted roof and I stand guard in front of Tay’s stall. The scene is centuries old, the echo of the splashing water, the call of the muezzin. We drop a few coins in the attendant’s cup before snapping a few photos and receiving his blessings.

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Then it’s off to the Hassan II Mosque, third largest mosque in the world, resplendent by the ocean, with its incredibly intricate craftsmanship and colors; the mosaics, lines, arches, and massive doors form a magnificent play of space. We don our new robes and wander Hassan’s vast courtyard for hours, under a breezy gray sky next to the pounding Atlantic surf. Multiple would-be tour guides approach me speaking Arabic, asking if I am Muslim. Must be the beard, I think, answering no, and “Non, merci” when they offer a tour of the fountains.

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As the night descends, we walk along the waterfront, make a vain attempt to find Rick’s Cafe, then buy a box of Moroccan sweets for our hosts in France, where we will travel tomorrow.

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