Mohammedia to Ben Yakhlef
Trip Start Aug 06, 2008
39Trip End Ongoing
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Today I'm back where I left off in Mohammedia. Taking a look at Google Maps, I spot a town just a couple kilometres away. So today I head straight back to Mohammedia where it looks like there’s a little town within walking distance: Ben Yakhlef. So I figure I add another town to my superhike… and explore Mohammedia a bit more. Last time I brought just my cheapy camera with me, forgetting that the town is actually quite photogenic.
I get off the bus at the northeast corner where I figure I just need to head southeast and I’ll end up in Ben Yakhlef… but it turns out not to be quite that simple
I head on back, looking for an alternative way back to the southeast corner. I pass through some quite poor neighborhoods—even some real shantytowns—just sheets of scrap metal slapped on some wooden posts—not quite the cinderblock "shanties" we have in Casablanca. Then there’s a road that crosses over the freeway—so I assume it’ll take me to Ben Yakhlef. On the horizon I can see clusters of apartment blocks being built here and there so I figure I’m headed in the right direction.
But all I find is a large shantytown, and I feel very conspicuous walking past it, but fortunately no one seems to notice me. And then it’s just potato fields and wheat fields—no sign of any real “town” anywhere. I figure I’ll just keep going until I find something, although I feel a bit awkward wandering down this narrow, potholed road to nowhere
And then something rather bizarre happens. A car pulls up next to me. I figure it’s some thoughtful citizen asking the foreigner why he’s wandering past potato fields carrying a guitar. But no, it’s Driss, a fellow from work!
This is about the last place I’d expect to run into someone from my job—but sure enough. When Driss tells me to get in the car, I don’t argue, but just bashfully get in, trying to figure out how I’m going to explain this. He doesn’t seem that surprised when I tell him I’m heading to “Ben Yakhlef”—except… this isn’t the road to Ben Yakhlef!
Driss kindly invites me for lunch, and I accept. It would be a little awkward to say “Uh… thanks, but I think I’ll just continue going where I’m going—even though I now know it’s in the wrong direction!” We enjoy a pleasant meal together as Driss tells me a bit of his life story and also fills me in a bit more on Mohammedia. He says he could never live in Casablanca after enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this town. I can’t really blame him—it’s quite a charming place.
This is one of the very rare moments when my Adventure Life and my Civilized Working Man Life intersect—but it seems to have gone quite smoothly. Afterwards Driss has to go to work, so he points out to me the way to Ben Yakhlef, and I head off to seek this elusive town for the third time…
Finally Reaching Ben Yakhlef
The experiences in getting there were certainly more interesting than the town itself, as Ben Yakhlef is little more than a bunch of upscale villas surrounded by trash strewn lots. The place feels rich and poor at the same time, with wealthy homes, but no garbage service. There are a couple of long, narrow alleys where you could swear you’re in a a cramped old medina—but right behind the houses on both sides are open fields!
No park benches or really any suitable place for a concert anywhere. Finally I just prop my camera on a stack of rocks in a field with a row of houses behind me.
Ben Yakhlef won’t be winning any awards for anything that’s for sure. But I am still happy to have “discovered” a new town and am able to add another notch to my belt.
And so I hike on back to Mohammedia and a catch a bus home…