This is part of a series I have been working on. The Introduction is here.
I was exhausted and burnt out. For short trips, you rally. But backpacking is a marathon.
I dyed my hair from blonde to brown before I left Vancouver because I knew I was going to Morocco, and I’d heard warnings—mostly I’d ignored them, but my mother also heard those warnings. If she felt better, I could deal. However, it faded back into a dark blonde by the time I arrived in North Africa.
In a perfect example of a tremendous oversight, I arrived on the first day of Ramadan. I had a hotel room all to myself. A hotel on the beach, where I took the closure of everything as a chance to relax. I slept all day, wandered the beach, and then ate candy and drank mango juice for dinner.
But I got to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean from Africa.
The world started to feel small.
I wanted to explore, but I was feeling what I hadn’t yet realized was culture shock. I realized I had been incredibly naïve. I took short walks through this little part of town, sneaking photographs as if I were a cultural thief somehow. Most of my experience with the actual city was on the taxi ride from my hotel to the train station.
I cannot even remember how I called the taxi. Did my hotel call it for me? Did I flag someone down? I seem to recall few cars on the streets on the outskirts where my hotel was. I attributed that to Ramadan, I remember.
I feel slightly ashamed that my memory has failed me on this one little detail. I cannot even recall much about the taxi or the driver. I have vaguely blurred recollection of a typical cityscape passing by once we entered Casablanca proper.
I remember thinking, comically aware of my own absurdity, how absolutely nothing looked like the movie. I had expected this; I wasn’t an idiot. I harboured no false expectations on that front. I even knew that somewhere downtown, some enterprising restaurateur had opened a “Rick’s” and that it too was nothing like the movie.
So it goes.