I’ve been at home, here in the wonderful Northwest African country of Morocco, for nearly a month and haven’t blogged about it until now. This is both a very ancient land and society, and an extremely modern and up-to-date one, at the same time. The latest amenities, such as constant wi-fi, depend upon the part of the city you happen to be in. Naturally, I chose a period hotel right in the Ancient Medina, the Old Town, within the high walls of the original port enclave. Although Hotel Central did have internet, as it grandly proclaimed on Hostelworld, one’s ability to log on was a privilege not granted to many. That was okay with all of us laid-back guests, who were already well into feeling one-thousand years old; after our first venture into the exciting and colorful warren of Casablanca’s Bazaar.
Not when Rick’s Café, an important location in the 1942 movie, “Casablanca,” was right down the street. If Humphrey Bogart didn’t need internet; then, neither did we!
So, blogs, and even letters home, went by the board while Casablanca got me by the heart; perhaps never to let go. The truth of that suspicion is born out by the fact that, within two weeks of arrival, I was moving into my own, rented, two-bedroom apartment, (only $400 per month), and fixing it up to be my production studio for my latest creative endeavor: YouTube Travel Videos.
When my visa has allowed, and most-particularly, when my heart tells me that I love a city too much to leave it; I will stay for the three-to-six months that my passport allows. I happily did this in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; San Pedro, Belize; and Tallinn, Estonia. The rest of the time, I was romping rapidly throughout Europe, Russia, Spain and the Canary Islands; not even taking time to familiarize myself with the professional gear weighing my biggest suitcase into overcharges, every flight.
As if to boot me into overdrive, my ancient Compaq laptop took a dive, which killed its hard drive; causing me to look seriously at my new and smaller Asus computer and my sliver of a Samsung Tablet, S2, which had been languishing along with packed headphones, video cams, cords, plugs, and who knew what-all? Thanks to my friend, the Movie Producer, who had put me under contract for a Reality Show about my world travels, I was aware of the possibilities of my current vagabond life; but not very sure of myself when it came to the recording of it.
One of the reasons, was that I hadn’t found the flavor…..that elusive special zest…… in any of the countries that I’d solo’d in, over the past eighteen-months. Doesn’t everybody go there? Don’t we always see their tourist sites in every glossy magazine? What makes me think that I could cover it better than Rick Steves? My little point-and-shoot was all I needed for touristing; and those photos sufficed well enough for this blog and anything else I needed them for. I never even used the video function on that little Nikon of mine. And yet, I dragged a studio around with me! Waiting for the Show to proclaim itself to my heart!
Morocco, Morocco, Morocco!
It was Islam and the true peace that I found here in all the Moslem hearts! It was my brand-new friends, made in a sporting goods store, where I shopped for sports bras and pouches to tuck my spy-camera into. I confided to the staff my reasons for wanting such an odd collection: Suddenly, I wanted to get lost again among those ancient, colorful bazaar shops, filming their gorgeous, Oriental carpets, their silver trays and tea sets; the carved cedar wood boxes and statues; the inlay-everything. I didn’t want to look like a tourist, or even a professional documentarian. I wished to be, intimately, among them; capturing the soft glow in their naturally-happy and welcoming eyes; rather than an American tourist, just off that big white boat in the harbor.
I was in love! Pure and simple! And Youssef and Azziz went through their modern City Sport Athletic Shop, finding all the tools and clothing I needed to be a successful spy. Azziz has just opened an American-style, barbeque restaurant in Casablanca, called The Big Egg, of all things! I later learned that the name is inspired by their huge, green, wood-fired, egg-shaped Grill, within which is cooked some of the very delicious food served there. It does look like a gigantic green dinosaur egg when the cover is closed. Azziz invited me to dine at The Big Egg that night.
I’d walked a lot that day, and shopped a lot. All I really wanted to do was to collapse back in my hotel room and go to sleep. But, thank goodness, I had the sense to realize how proud he was of his week-old contribution to the Casablanca food scene….. and how eager to show it off to this brand-new, American arrival. So, I quickly changed clothes and taxied to The Big Egg for the first of a series of events that led to everything that Casablanca has become to me.
And also, to the first two video productions of my new YouTube Reality Series, which I’ll post here when I’m finished editing! Stay tuned for the rest of the story!