Yesterday, after a horrendous EasyJet flight (two hours late, horribly rude people) and immigration queue that resembled a mosh pit, I arrived in Casablanca. Since I am traveling alone, I decided it was smart to do a tour in Morocco, which I was, and remain, apprehensive about. Casablanca is one of the seediest cities I have visited and the hotel left much to be desired, in particular, my room had no shower curtain and only scalding hot water. A couple floors below, the ceiling had collapsed in part of the corridor and the insulation, certainly including asbestos, was hanging and dripping with water. I should have taken photos but I was trying to avoid exposing my belongings to the wretchedness.
This morning we visited the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, which is one of the most beautiful modern structures I have seen – it was built at the end of the twentieth century and was largely paid for by the Moroccan people, at a cost of almost one billion dollars. Yes, it also has a retractable roof. After visiting the Mosque, we drove to Rabat, the political capital, and then on to Meknes.
The tour is comprised of the oddest mix of people you can imagine and I am still deciding whether it is appropriate to post details. I am the youngest, which I certainly was not expecting, particularly given that this is a budget, whirlwind trip. Fortunately, I have a great roommate.
Last night and tonight I had tangines for dinner. A tangine refers to a dish that is cooked in a clay plate that is covered with an upside-down cone shaped clay top. Basically, you put meat, spices, onions and oil in the plate, sauté them for a few minutes, stick the vegetables on top, cover the dish and either cook it in the oven or on the stove for 40ish minutes. The result is the most tender and flavorful fall-apart-in-your-mouth meat with equally delicious vegetables (and sometimes fruit). Essentially, the tangine locks all of flavor in and simultaneously bastes the meat, because the steam/juice generated by cooking the food gathers at the top of the tangine and drips back onto the meat. Last night I had a beef and prune tangine and tonight I had a lamb, quince, and vegetable tangine. Both were delicious. The Moroccons use bread as their cutlery.
Each night, I also had a night cap of Moroccan tea, which is made by boiling green tea to clean it, straining it, an then boiling it again with sugar and fresh mint on top.
I have yet to form an opinion on Morocco, but will be sure to let you know when I do. I hope that being on a tour doesn’t cloud my perspective too much, but I predict that it might. In the mean time, here are some photos of dinner, one thing that I certainly cannot complain about. Tonight in particular, I was so full that I could barely walk back to the hotel.