Saturday, December 9, 2017

It’s all pretty much a blur consisting of yet more hours travelling by coach, topped off with an utterly futile search on my own for a cigar shop which might exist or might just be a 1,001 Arabian nights myth

Morocco – Day Five: Rabat/Casablanca

To be honest, I could almost not be bothered to write this entry detailing today’s goings on as not much really happened. And I am even having trouble recalling the itinerary. We started a the usual take-off time of 8.30am on the dot, and given the flexible timetable of the rest of the day, I can’t quite understand the insistence on utterly punctual departures except that that is how the Germans like it and would feel distinctly out of sorts if any kind of laxity crept into the proceedings.

As I have already admitted, I am very German in some ways – I am as direct as they are, which to British ears sounds horribly like tactlessness, and if you ask a German his opinion, he or she will give it to you and if you don’t like, well, you did ask. They are not at all folk for the kind of sugary and, to be frank, often downright dishonest beating about the bush the Brits make their own. But in other ways I am as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pud. I like to go my own way if I want to and if that causes ructions, well, so be it.

For example, I am down to my last four La Paz Wilde Cigarros and at the hotel here in Casablanca (OK, I’m jumping ahead a bit, but – well, what the hell) I asked reception whether there was a tobacconists nearby who sold cigars. Yes, he said, turn right, go down the road and you will come to a square. It’s on the left of the square. Well, that’s what he said, but why I don’t know.

The square was jam-packed, it’s Saturday night, with honking traffic and folk of all ages, young children even, everywhere, but search as I might, I didn’t find a tobacconists a la gauche. I wandered around, asked several people in my best abysmal French ‘pour un magasin qui vente les cigares’, oh, just down there, on the right, on the left, first left, second right and on and on. I searched high and low, all the time trying to keep my bearings – who wants to get lost in Casablanca on a Saturday night with very, very little French and no Arabic to speak of – but could find nothing. Finally, I came back mission utterly unnacomplished. But, the inevitable but, for the first time in several days I was on my own, wandering around and seeing the sights a little rather than trailing around with a gang of tourists. And I rather enjoyed it, trivial as it might seem. But back to the itinerary.

First stop was Rabat where we all dismounted and took a look at the king’s palace, though from afar. And no pictures of the members of the army, navy, air force and police standing guard. Then, or before, I really can’t remember, we inspected the mausoleum of Hassad II, the current king’s dad. Then it was back on to the coach and down the motorway to here, Casablanca. Once here, we dismounted again somewhere and – I am not being cute or trying to be clever – I just can’t recall what it was we inspected this time. Something, anyway.

Anyway, here we are at the Almo Hades Hotel where for me the highlight was marvelling at the extremely colourful garb of the women in a party of Senegalese tourist group. Driving from Meknes to Rabat and then Casablanca it was once again apparent what a very green country Morocco is. As I said yesterday my first impression, gained while driving to Marrakesh from Agadir of a rather barren arid country was very wrong.

And that’s your lot for now, I’m afraid. Courtesy of a browser plugin called Zenmate, which allows you to seem as if you are on the net from many other countries (in this case Old Blighty) I shall now sign off and tune into BBC One’s Match of the Day. And along those lines tomorrow, bugger what’s on the timetable, has just one task for me: to seek out a TV somewhere in the hope that it is showing the Manchester United v Manchester City match. A must, I’m afraid. I do know that a supper of Moroccan food is planned with and exhibition of ‘folklore’. Well, count me out. That kind of thing has done bugger all for me in the past, and I can’t think tomorrow will be any different. I’d much prefer mooching around and see real Moroccans.

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