Whilst on a cruise, I went on a tour of Casablanca, the highlight being a lengthy visit to the mosque which dominates the city’s skyline. It is one of the largest in the world and our guide said that The courtyard can hold 80,000 people, with 30,000 praying at the same time inside. The minaret is the tallest in the world (210 metres) and at night beams a green laser light towards Mecca which we saw, from the ship. Unfortunately, by the time I’d run back to my cabin to collect my camera, it had been switched off!
We had an excellent Muslim guide who explained the prayer procedure/ritual to us, including the ablutions room where it is necessary to be perfectly clean before worshiping. I found it fascinating but there were one or two people who were overcome by the vastness.
Our guide explained our the present leader is allowing more emancipation for women and support for single mothers. However, I had a very strong feeling that we were being told the story that they wanted us to hear and see the sights they wanted us to see. I was fortunate enough to be seated alongside the guide in the front of the coach. She directed our eyes away from abject poverty and dereliction. When I asked her about a particular sight I saw, ( a filthy area with people living in dreadful conditions) she would not elaborate.
We were taken to a very smart restaurant on the shore for delicious mint tea.
I also enjoyed a walking tour of the old Medina with its colourful maze of alleyways. However, there was an occasion when I was aware that I was being watched when I had my camera out and felt it necessary to put it in my back pack on my chest!
Equally, when leaving a shop to buy some beautiful Moroccan leather and spices, the guide whipped the two small bags I had just purchased off me that I had dangling from my shoulder, pressing them against my chest and saying ‘hold them tight- it is not safe’ we had about 50 meters to walk to the coach!
Casablanca – an interesting city of contrasts but please be personally aware if touring.