I arrived in Morocco yesterday, after two nights of travel, with one night spent trying to sleep in the Seattle airport and the next in a hotel in Madrid. I had planned on trying to fly directly to Burkina but the tickets where astronomically priced-for a foreigner at least-about 600 dollars for one way. This was the "special price, for you" that the Royal Air Mark guy promised me. So I am traveling south by land and will go into Mauritania, possibly Mali and Burkino if there is time.
After my failed bid for airline tickets I headed into Casablanca and immediately wished I had taken the train further on. Casablanca is too big of a city to start out with! This morning I was up at 6:00 AM and had to wake the hotel proprietor to give me the keys for the shower room. Then I was off to the train station where I happily waited an hour and a half for the next train to El Jadida, a much smaller and more manageable town by the ocean with an old walled section and twisty, narrow alleys.
In the evening things get really lively. It seems everyone leaves their homes to wander (women and men), shop (mostly women), drink tea in teahouses (men only), and loiter in the streets (men only again-huge groups of them). A lot of the younger men here are dressed over the top-fancy leather jackets, tight decorated jeans, and highly polished, pointed leather shoes or boots. It's a bit funny to see groups of them hanging out; it reminds me a bit of the movie Greece. As I pass often they will say things to me in French. Well, not knowing much more than a word of French I have no idea what they saying, unless it is bonjour (often it starts with that), but I can imagine where it goes from there. I have to ignore them or they will get encouraged and follow me! I have other problems, too, not knowing any of the language, mainly buying things. Most of today I have just been holding out a hand full of coins or a few small bills and let them take what they want! It seems to be working pretty well; for lunch today-which was a huge meal of a sort of stew cooked in a clay pot called Tajine, fresh baked bread, and lentils cooked in curry and cumin-I held out about 4 dollars of local currency and received about one and a half back in change!