Trip Start Aug 06, 2008
39Trip End Ongoing
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This isn't my first exploration of Mohammedia. Back in February 2008 when I was in Morocco for just a few months checking out some job possibilities I came here because I accidentally got on the train north instead of the train south! So I decided to go ahead and explore the town a bit. Here’s a summary of that experience:
Across from the train station is the best-maintained park I've ever seen in Morocco (well-maintained parks aren't Morocco's strong point). A couple of fellows come by to listen to my tunes and soon we get into discussions about music, aspirations and global politics. One of the fellows, Mourad, says I can leave my bags at his mom's place while we wander around town
The old medina is very tiny--but had some great fried fish and calamari. Then we head through a fancy residential area where rich Casablanca folks come on weekends and then down to the coast--and then off to another immaculate garden area. Mourad says that the garden was created and maintained under direct orders from the royal family. He also gives me a lot of great info on the town over all--points out the house of the wealthiest—and stingiest man in town... who also paid for the main mosque to be built. He also tells me about his life. He’s a 35 year old and unemployed and he’s never given up his dream to go to America. I feel kind of sorry for him, and am half tempted to tell him he really should just give up on the idea and focus on something else.
Postnote: A few months later I get an email from him… he won the green card lottery and is now living in Chicago! I guess it really is never too late to have big dreams!
Re-exploring the Town
Now I’m back… adding Mohammedia to my Casablanca Region Superhike and determined to explore in in the same thorough way I explored Casa
After a long hike, I finally reach the "heart" of Mohammedia, which hardly feels like a city center, with large open spaces all around. Certainly doesn’t feel like there’s a big rush to urbanize this area any time soon. Here is the large, carefully manicured garden that had so impressed me last time, lined with pine trees and elegant cafes.
After pausing to play a few more songs here, I continue wandering Mohammedia’s “downtown”, a very quiet, clean, shady area—it has a touristy feel but without the tourists
In no hurry to rush this 2nd Mohammedia experience, I follow street all the way through town again, on past the port area and to a cliff overlooking the ocean. Hassan II Mosque seems just a short distance away, on the other side of a gently curving shoreline—but it seems like a whole other world over there…
I find a back street that takes me to the beach that’s right next to the port/industrial area… and then back into town once again where I grab some lunch and find a 3rd park to strum for a while.
Across the Tracks
Often train tracks divide cities into two completely opposite sections, and Mohammedia is a classic example of this
I dive in and out of narrow market alleys, dodge traffic, and zigzag up busy commercial strips looking for interesting things to snack on. I’ve go a hankering for cow head—and am not disappointed.
At the edge of the second market I explore, there’s a “Mini-Jma Fnaa” going on, with story tellers, entertainers and “kick the ball in the hole” contests… Next to it is a little plaza with some benches, and I manage to find an empty one, so I figure I might as well pull out my guitar and see what happens. I don’t manage to attract too much attention—which is understandable… after all, I am competing for people’s attention with a monkey in a dress! (I’m not joking!)
Dusk is setting in as I continue on to the southwest edge of town where I cross the train tracks once again and back to the “other” Mohammedia, with lights from the refinery sparkling on the horizon. It’s been an interesting day, and I’m glad I took some more time to explore this town, even though I didn’t earn any “points” for doing so. Next day trip, I’ll pick up right here and see what new place I can find.