Beyond Casa Northeast: Ain Harrouda
Trip Start Aug 06, 2008
39Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I'm back in Casablanca, hungry to get out there and discover again… on foot. This time I’m going to try the other direction: following the coast northeast. This time I’ve done a little research ahead of time, and it looks like it’ll only be a couple of kilometres before I reach a town called Ain Harrouda. And since it’s not on the coast, hopefully it’ll be a real town, not just a beach town
My hike starts at 7 AM, with a crispness in the air as I take my favorite stroll toward the magnificent Hassan II Mosque. Hopefully Ain Harrouda will be a bit more pleasant ending than Tamaris
Passing through the Old Medina, I pause to strum in the Zraktouni park. I’ve got a lot of songs I need to work on, and I need to practice them out in the open air—so I might just take a music break at every park I pass... From there I continue on up the road, meandering through Roche Noire, pausing again at the park there and reminiscing my encounter with the high school students last spring, distributing their "cheat sheets" for the finals and doing a little rap/folk fusion with one of the fellows… I continue up the main drag towards Ain Sebaa, getting a closer look at the “Railroad Neighborhood” I’d noticed last time with its tall pillared apartment buidings. And then, before I know it, I’m going under the railway bridge and I’m in Ain Sebaa. Here I pause at the “Lion Fountain” to strum some more, and am joined by a couple of cheerful high schoolers.
It’s lunchtime, and I’m not even halfway out of Casablanca! But it’s been a soothing walk, and although I’m not sure how far this “exploring the world on foot concept is going to take me, I’m eager to find out.
Afterwards I continue up Chefchaouani street straight through the industrial zone, past endless random factories and warehouses with workers sitting in empty lots nearby, taking their lunchbreak… as I look I wonder how many of them are earning a decent wage… Wondering if more industry is really the answer for Morocco’s future…
Finally I reach a major intersection and figure I’d better head right towards Sidi Bernosi while I have the chance… I do, and take my time zigzagging around, checking for anything if interest I might have missed last time. Of course, I also enjoy a cool glass of raib youghurt—I remember it being very good here in Bernossi.
And then, finally I reach the end of Casablanca—the same spot I reached on my 10 day Casablanca Hike. But this time I’m not turning around
There’s a bit of construction going on on the highway, and one of the workers waves a greeting, he doesn’t seem too surprised to see a foreigner hike down the road to nowhere, leaving the city behind him. Scattered here and there are random white country homes—nothing luxurious, but not poor looking either. I wonder what it must feel like, after perhaps generations of a rural lifestyle, to watch the city slowly inching towards them like an unstoppable glacier.
If I continue along the coast I’ll end up in Mohammedia before long—but I want to reach the nearest town first, Ain Harrouda To get to Ain Harrouda I have to veer off to the southeast, through one last cluster of industrial complexes, and along a tree lined road through farm country. Now there are actually quite a few people around—kid heading home from school… folks heading home from market. And then, suddenly, there’s Ain Harrouda straight ahead… a long line of large homes bound tightly together
Assuming there might not be any park benches in town, I decide to go ahead and find a resting spot at the edge of town and take my video clip and play my set. I actually feel excited at having once again succeeded in escaping Casa on foot—this time it’s been a much more laid and pleasant experience than my first intertown hike.
Ain Harrouda definitely has a soul that is completely distinct from Casablanca. Most people here commute to the city of course, but there is some industry here as well. There are some businesses along the highway, but most of the activity is around an open air market that has something unique about it: Drive-in Donkey Cart Vendors. An aisle with donkey carts full of produce, parked side by side on both sides of the aisle, with the donkeys facing outwards—so that as soon as the vendor sells all his stuff, he just smacks the ass on the ass, and… off he goes! Talk about efficiency! No hassle with unloading and loading your goods, unhitching the cart, tying up the donkey… nope… it’s all a one-step operation!
Ain Harrouda will definitely stick in my mind. The town also has a little unused chapel—a relic of colonial times, so this place has been around a while. A lot of the houses look recently built though. As the sun sets, I come across a little plaza which seems to be the “spot” where the young folks hang out in the evening. But, just my luck, there’s one empty bench, where I sit, pull out my guitar, and share my music with the youth of this town, feeling like a sort of musical pioneer bringing my music to an undiscovered location… even though I’m just a stone’s throw from Casablanca…
And with darkness setting in I decide to call it a day… a very satisfying day.
I catch a bus back to Sidi Bernossi, where I wander a bit more, soaking in the lively evening life of this neighbourhood, with a crowded marketplace and a mini-amusement park set up. Then I head back to Real Life temporarily… soon I’ll be back and pick up right where I left off.