First Walk in Morocco
The first walk in a new country is, invariably, one of the most memorable.
After coming into Casablanca at night and going directly to the Hotel Foucauld, I did not bed down with a clear conception of what the city was like. I was awakened to morning by the clucking of hens that were kept just outside my window. Where was I? I did not quite know. The streets were dark the night before, so I had no idea of the place outside of my austere, viewless room. I grew excited as I laid in bed while waking up. I had no idea of what I would come upon when I stepped out into the street. So I jumped out of bed, packed up a few things, and ran out into the Moroccan morning.
I did not know what time it was, and I was not even sure of what time-zone I was in. But the dim morning light and the empty streets told me that I was an early riser. It is interesting to note the contrasts in times that different cultures begin their days. From my first walk in a distinctly Muslim country it seems as if they wake a little later than what I have grown accustom to in East Asia. Which is a cultural point that I could not help but to welcome, as this meant that I could be up and walking for an hour or two before the city had even stirred. There are few things more good-feeling in travel than watching a city wake up. And this is what I did this morning.
I began my walk in search of another place to stay. The Hotel Foucauld was decent, but it had a generally unpleasant feel and, at ten dollars a night, was pushing the high end of my budget. So I sought cheaper accommodation in the Youth Hostel in the Medina. I walked into an Arab Medina for the first time and became excited at what I beheld: winding alleys, white stucco walls, little shops pile upon each other, laundry and plants and assorted rabble hanging out of three stories of windows, bearded Muslim men rushing off in every direction with their robes flowing closely behind. It all, at first impression, seemed very similar to many cities in India, and I became very impressed that the Muslim world stretched so great a distance: from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean! Oh, what far-reaching worlds I still have left to travel! I arrived at the hostel before they were opened, so I continued on in the direction of the Hassan II Mosque- which is said to be the third largest in the world. I arrived after a decent walk along the shipping docks, occasionally peaking through the cracks and spaces in the guarding wall at glimpses of the sea.
I soon beheld the Mosque on the horizon, and its size did not seem as imposing as I had thought, but was highly impressive none-the-less. A desert and sea worn stone tower shot up to the sky with devout superiority. Its extensive, though perfectly simplistic, blue and white designs covered the monument with a bold radiance. Its large open courtyard provide the space that such a dominating structure needed- as one could step back from it in order to fully take in and appreciate its grandeur. After walking around the Mosque for some time I decided that I wanted to go back to the Youth Hostel, to be sure that I got a bed.
I did so and landed a nights sleep for a little over five dollars. The Youth Hostel also ended up being a rather clean and comfortable place to stay- much more so than the hotel. I quickly found my bed and laid down to sleep. My dreams were vivid, and at several points I though that I was awake and still walking along the streets outside. I cannot remember the last time that I dreamed so vividly. I am now sitting in the courtyard wondering at how I am going to pull off travelling with a computer.
I have never travelled with anything of real value before. Until recently, I have always spurned electronics with scorn and never even considered the possibility of having my bag stolen- as the thief would only be making off with some underwear and maybe a dirty shirt or two. But now I have a laptop, a digital camera, a digital sound recorder, and various other pieces of equipment that will allow me to document and broadcast my travels. I think that I may have to take this change into account, and perhaps alter my lax attitude towards the potential of my things wandering off from me. But then again, would I rather spend time in worry about having possessions or to not have any possessions at all and maintain my empty thoughts? I have always choose the latter and, even though I need to do an extensive amount of computer work to complete my degree and to fill commitments to magazine editors, I think that I still feel the same way. Though I may seek to lock my bags up every now and then, I know that I cannot let this grate on me.