MOROCCO: Casablanca – Give It A Rest, Sam.

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

After the all-day bus trip from Essaouira, I find myself in the filthy, noisy city of Casablanca. As the backdrop for a Hollywood classic of the same name, any of the glitz and glamour this city may have exuded has long since faded away. One bit of good news is that I am holed up in a four-star hotel for three more days. If nothing else, I can soak in a large tub, lounge by the pool, and catch up on some writing while steering clear of all the noise and filth this city has to offer.

I’ve pretty much had my fill of Morocco anyhow and probably should have chosen my destinations more carefully. Then again, I don’t much care for the country, the culture, and the widespread aversion to ethics of any kind. I see little point in wasting my time in countries whose attributes fail to lift my spirits or stimulate my curiosity. I knew by the time I left Marrakech that Morocco and I were through. Essaouira was an improvement, but not enough to make a difference. The same issues surfaced there, but just in a more subtle fashion.

Bottom line is that aside from the cultural issues, Morocco’s environmental factors alone discount it from being a place in which I would want to spend time. So if you’re not into dry and dusty, and if crumbling infrastructure isn’t your thing, don’t come here.

Club Val D’Anfa Hotel – This is clearly the high point of my visit to Casablanca other than perhaps a quick visit to the third largest mosque in the world. The other good news is that “Casablanca” is on Netflix, and I haven’t seen it in decades. It’s a great movie, and it resonated more deeply given my recent exposure to Morocco even though it’s unlikely a single frame of film was ever shot here. They still captured the duplicity and thievery that is the fundamental substance of this country.

At least the visit to Casablanca brought about another viewing of that classic film. It’s amazing how much I had missed in my original viewings. Bogart is amazing, and Bergman is beautiful as she blinks away tears in those moist and soulful sad eyes at the end of the film. This city will forever ride on the coattails of that classic film, doomed to forever fall short of its cinematic glory.

I think I’ll take the pool over the beach. The only problem with traveling the world is that so many places begin to fall short of previous destinations. In fact, if I wanted to get ripped off by taxi drivers with prettier beaches and cheaper hotels, I could just as easily have gone to Vietnam. Now they do throw trash everywhere, but at least it’s not dry and dusty.

Even the sky has a dirty cast to it. I don’t even want to think about the water.

MOSQUE HASSAN II – Empty space earmarked for major seafront development. I finally got away from my hotel and visited the famous Mosque Hassan II. I can’t say I was particularly impressed by the sights on the way there. The Old Medina is a crumbling mess of ancient rubble, and the modern buildings are a nondescript conflagration of decaying architectural banality. They are looking to upgrade this seafront area as well as the Grande Théâtre de Casablanca, but it would take a great deal more to lure me back to this dry flavorless cracker of a city. Even the food here has been disappointing.

These are the plans for a wide promenade with parks and recreation which should make for a nice prelude to the mosque itself. It should be a considerable improvement over the current state of affairs.

MOSQUE HASSAN II – This view should be very nice once they complete the seafront project. I have wondered during my visit how a culture that dashes off to pray five times a day can justify the sheer dishonesty shown to the tourist population on a daily basis. One can only conclude that there must be truth to the rumors that the Q’ran justifies lying to infidels. Whatever the cause. I shall not return to this Allah-forsaken country ever again.

Regardless it’s a nice looking mosque even though it seems to have little effects on its adherents.





VILLA DES ARTS DE CASABLANCA – A beautiful little art deco villa housing free exhibitions that are changed frequently. This is a little gem in an otherwise write-off of a city.

His exhibition offered up an assortment of sculpture and mixed media pieces.

Hassan SLAOUI – Fez Town Supported – 2012


Hassan SLAOUI – Inlay – 1981


Hassan SLAOUI – Self-Portraits of Artists – 2015

This place is such a wonderful contrast to the rest of Casablanca’s filthy and disordered nature. It was like taking refuge in an Aesthetic Embassy where no filth nor degradation can interfere with free expression and absorption of artistic mediums.


Another angle of this compelling ensemble. Next, it’s the train station to pick up tickets for tomorrow’s trip to the capital city of Rabat. Hopefully, I can make good use of my time before flying off to Athens.

TRAVEL ZEALOT – Well contained, content and back on track, he sits in his $7.00 first class rail car for the 70-minute ride to the last stop on his Moroccan Misadventure. The worst-case scenario, spend the next three days planning out Greece punctuated by attempts at finding the good Moroccan cuisine that was lacking in Casablanca.


  1. Jason
    May 22, 2017

    Stick a fork in it Sam. Hit the bricks Sam. Don’t make me kill you Sam. Hey. where’d Sam go?

  2. The Travel Zealot
    May 23, 2017

    I’ll never be able to look at that movie the same way ever again. The same thing happened when I went to Key Largo. Even “Roman Holiday” took a hit on my recent visit to a Rome overrun by tourists. Overpopulation is ruining this planet. Next year will be spent in more remote destinations.

  3. jeff jamieson
    May 25, 2017

    John, as you know I live in the most densely populated state in the US. How do we Jerseyans ignore the visual blight of overpopulation? Denial… and Focus. Focus on one great person. One beautiful flower. One fabulous building. Yeah, you go to a new place and you want to take in the wide view, and often that wide view encompasses a lot of crappy details. Fuggedaboutit. There’s grand in the small almost everywhere.

  4. The Travel Zealot
    May 25, 2017

    Nice to hear from you Jeff. I was born in New Jersey, but I challenge anyone to spend the day in the souks of Marrakech and come out with the ability to focus on much of anything shy of an explosion. I think the trick is to get out before you completely lose your mind as I did on a couple of occasions. I handled Hanoi at rush hour just fine, but Marrakesh was a bridge too far. Perhaps, had I indulged in some of our old college favorites I would have fared better, but alas I have given up such things. Talk about bad timing.

  5. Karen Devers
    May 28, 2017

    It’s a sad thing when the hotel pool looks more inviting than the beach. Totally understandable given the dirt, dust, and general decay of the area.

    I finished reading Homo Deus and it was not just a book, it was an experience. When I see a place like this full of people who lie and cheat in an attempt to overcome their poverty, I wonder how they will survive when 21st technology changes most of the rest of the world. There’s a TED Dialogue and Yuval’s lecture at UCSB on his website, along with tons of other stuff. I’ve included the link.

    When he was asked, “What are humans good for?” his response was, “Nothing.”

    And yes, it is OK to lie to “infidels” according to their religion.

  6. The Travel Zealot
    May 28, 2017

    Seriously Karen,
    It’s going to get very ugly for these Bronze Age cultures as technology leaves them behind. Even the oil rich countries are in for a rude awakening when their product becomes valueless in the coming decades.

    UCSB is Dina’s old alma mater. I’ll watch Yuval’s Ted talk. I’m glad you enjoyed his book. It’s a real mind bender. His first one is very enlightening as well. The guy’s a genius.

    I think in the future I’m going to avoid countries where the local superstition condones lying to infidels. They’re not getting my dinhars or whatever currency they may be using as legal tender. It’s just not worth the effort of wading through all the filth and scumbags to engage with the nice people that only serve to get your hopes up until the next hosing occurs.

  7. Karen Devers
    May 28, 2017

    Yes, Yuval is a very important thinker and I value his ability to take a holistic view as well as propose possibilities for our future on Earth. I believe that the changes won’t happen overnight but they may occur more quickly than we realize.

    I had a lengthy conversation with Elli about AI and the changes ahead. She believes that the only way to preserve our place in the world is to adjust our values. I agree, although transitioning from a consumerist, homo centrist approach will not be easy.

    Janet is coming over for a visit today and it will be great to talk with her about this as well. I’m also looking forward to talking with you in person when we go on our trip.

  8. The Travel Zealot
    May 29, 2017

    Yes Karen,
    Yuval’s material will definitely provide grist for the conversation mill. I’m currently worried about humanity surviving the Trump administration, and the fact that he has already recently set in motion the destabilization of Europe through his limp support of NATO which could further embolden his pal Putin. Worrisome indeed. He rejects our democratic allies while cozying up to authoritarian barbarians. Those poor Baltic countries must be soiling themselves right about now. At least Bush gave them absolute assurances.

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