Birth of a City
Trip Start Aug 06, 2008
39Trip End Ongoing
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4 hours, 10.1 kms
This is not the first time I've had company travelling from town to town with my guitar, but this is the first time I’ve had eight people accompany me! We follow the highway for a ways until we reach a forest of cork trees with what look like baby palm trees popping up—a nice place to rest. Here we play a bit more music and take another video clip, then head on through the forest on a shortcut to Tamesna.
We cross a wide swath of land with the trees cleared out
“You mean road, right?”
It seems that folks have very grand plans for this city that doesn’t even exist yet.
Finally we reach the edge, where a bunch of identical villas are being finished up. Unlike Mers el Kheir, where plots are sold off one by one for people to build on at their own pace, Tamesna is being built by big construction companies, with orderly sections of villas and apartment blocks.
I was hoping there’d be a café or somewhere where I could invite my group of friends for a drink but there’s nothing but empty houses here, so they hop on a bus where they’ll ride (without paying, they boast) back to Mers El Kheir.
Watching a City be Born
I’d had mixed feelings about visiting Tamesna. On one hand, I knew that I’d just be wandering past miles and miles of shadeless empty lots and construction sites. On the other hand, this is a unique opportunity to witness the birth of a city. I’ve visited cities in their infancy, teenage cities, adult cities, dying cities and even dead cities, but I’ve never seen a city being born. I imagine what it’ll be like to come back here in 20 years and see Tamesna as a full grown metropolis, and remember when it was all just empty lots.
Tamesna is an exception here in Morocco: unlike other cities like Deroua near Casablanca or Drarga near Agadir, this is a carefully planned city, designed to be an attractive place to live, rather than just a bunch of streets and square lots. The whole city is shaped like an oval racetrack, which encircles a ridge where there will be parks, lakes, shopping areas and pedestrian streets—and of course, an enormous mosque. Each layer will have either apartment blocks or preplanned villas, each section allotted to different construction companies
In the center is a little exposition with a miniature of what the city will look like once it’s finished. I must say, I am quite impressed by the ambition and the scale of this project. After seeing dozens of unplanned new towns and neighborhoods around Morocco, which seemed like such wasted opportunities, Tamesna is a breath of fresh air.
One the southwest side, there’s a section that’s already inhabited with a café where I’m able to grab some lunch and get out of the sun for a bit. These apartments look more like a government project for lower class folks, already with a slightly run down feel, and a lot of trash on the streets. I wonder if this neighbourhood is going to look like a ghetto in another 20 years.
Then again, I believe for a city to be healthy, it needs to be a place where people of different social levels can live together—not just be a city for rich people. Someday I’ll come back and see how that’s worked out for Tamesna.
I hike along the perimeter of the city and back to what will someday be the “heart” of Tamesna where the main mosque is being built and there are some decorative pillars which I figure I should used as a backdrop for my videoclip as they seem to be the symbol of this new city.
Tamesna is a city I’ll need to come back to—just so I can have “before and after” pictures taken at the same spots.