Tour Hassan & Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
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Trip End Jan 05, 2008


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Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rabat's most famous monument is the Tour Hassan, a 44-meter tall minaret tower that is all that remains of an enormous mosque built around 1200 that was mostly destroyed in an earthquake in 1755.  Now all that remains besides the tower is the paved area coinciding with the mosque's foundation and some re-erected pillars. 
Also on the site is the richly decorated Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the tomb of the current king's grandfather and father (King Hassan II) who ruled in the years since independence.  Even better than the tomb's architecture, though, were the cute toy soldier uniforms in green, red, and white on the mausoleum's guards, some of them looking especially picturesque on white and gray horses. 
Morocco is one of those developing countries like Thailand, Jordan, Bhutan, Tonga, and Swaziland (to name a few) where the king is highly revered and still wields much power within the constitutional monarchy political system.  Although there's relative freedom of speech in Morocco, that doesn't mean you can get away with saying bad things about the king.  The current king, Mohammed VI has been a very pro-Western and modernizing influence on the country and has contributed to making Morocco one of America's strongest allies in the Arab world. 
The Moroccan royal family also holds a special place in my heart, but for a different reason.  I think it was in late 1996, about eleven years ago, when I had a dream in which then King Hassan II appeared that changed my life.  At the time I was living in Denver, Colorado and working as an economist for the state legislature.  
In my dream, we had a visiting dignitary at the state capital, King Hassan II of Morocco (father of the current king) arrived on a cart pulled by sixteen donkeys.  The king entered the Capitol building and met with my boss, Nancy, the General Assembly's chief economist.  After their meeting, Nancy came to my basement cubicle and asked if the King could use my apartment as a stable for his donkeys, since it was only a few blocks away from the capitol building and the Brown Palace Hotel where he was staying.  I first refused, but Nancy then whipped out my employment contract that showed allowing the King to stable his donkeys in my apartment was a condition of my employment.  I reluctantly agreed. 
The next thing I recall I was in my apartment, and the donkeys were in my living room, taking up almost the entire room.  I stayed in my bedroom but went out to the kitchen to get something to eat.  The donkeys followed me into my bedroom and, as I was sleeping, ate all the clothing in my closet, my sheets and blankets, and even the clothes I was sleeping in.  I could feel their little tongues and teeth against me as they were munching away. 
When I woke up in the dream it was morning.  Nancy and the King had come by to retrieve the donkeys for the ticker tape parade down 17th Street they were going to be in together on his cart, and I was left naked in an empty apartment with no clothes to my name. 
If there had still been any doubts in my mind, after the dream I knew it was time to change jobs, and I found a new one within a few months.  But this was the beginning of my growing disenchantment with the American way of life and work that has continued on through the years, culminating in my nomadism over the last five.  Standing inside the Royal Mausoleum I couldn't help but think about how King Hassan II influenced the course of my life through his appearance in my dream so long ago.
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