Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Morocco stinks, no really it does" or "Casablanca looks so much better on film"

I have a very sensitive nose.  My younger brother often says I am part bloodhound because I smell things only a bloodhound could.  Well in situations like this it is not a gift but a curse.  

I woke early to head out to see the Hassan II Mosque, the 3d largest Mosque in the world and the largest Mosque in Africa.  It is partly built on reclaimed land, King Hassan II was inspired by a scripture in the Koran, the mosque is built to sit over the Atlantic Ocean and has a floor that moves so that when followers are praying they are actually kneeling over the ocean (and can see it) the ceiling of the mosque also retracts to expose the heavens as well.  This mosque is reported to have cost in the ballpark of 800 million AMERICAN dollars, and is absolutely gorgeous.  

A few colleagues and I headed off the ship and onto a shuttle bus which took us to the edge of the port, we then walked about a mile to the mosque.  Immediately I could smell the usual fish market smells, however this familiar smell was accompanied by another odor, that of rotting and dying corpses, well fish corpses anyways.  It was so bad for me, it was all I could do to not gag.  As we walked away from the pier area, the scent faded, but occasionally a wind would blow carrying other malodorous scents.  As we walked to the mosque we were quick to notice the extreme contradiction; to our right was the coast of the Atlantic Ocean where there was a resurgence of building of luxury homes and office space.  It looked like it would be amazing once completed, potentially rivaling the Miami skyline.  To our left however we could see and smell the slums, buildings crumbling, some even boarded up, and trash everywhere, sometimes even flowing out of abandoned lots.  We were not in the Casablanca of Humphrey Bogart by any stretch of the imagination, though our walk did have us pass Rick’s Place.  We arrived to the Mosque, and were taken aback by its grandeur.  It was not only immense it was magnificent.  The architecture, design, and intricacy of everything was absolutely perfect in every way.  It truly is a sight to behold.  At one point the group of us sat in quiet contemplation on one of the walls of the plaza with our feet dangling over the Atlantic Ocean, the Mosque to our back.  It was a good day.  We walked back in the 100 plus heat sweating and bearing the odors of the streets.  Though my Morocco experience was fantastic I really just wanted to get back to the ship and go.  I was all Moroccoed out.


  1. go Za Za! Waldo has nothin on you. anyways, i dig you on the smells. methinks it's just part of the culture shock. i've experienced the same thing in different countries. i became desensitized to the smells in countries i actually lived in for a while though. ...kinda like you may not pick up smells that you're use to in your home that are unfamilliar to someone else. if you've ever smelled your breath (hail Mary...) then you can only imagine someone elses experience with "it."

    in prior lessons we covered that all senses are ONE: Feeling. How did it make you feel? alarmed? invaded? traumatized, weepy? salacious? indisposed? jeapordus?

    yo and how was The Ramadan Experience abroad? a litany of adjectives.

    genius khan

  2. if you've ever smelled your breath (hail Mary...) then you can only imagine someone elses experience with "it."

    that's some funny shit! im still laughing but what i meant was; IF i can smell my breath then i can only imagine how it's jujitsu kicking someone else.

    i forgive you.

  3. GK, my love, thank you for your commentary, your "hail Mary" comment made me laugh too.

    Ramadan was interesting since all of the guides we utilized were Muslim, I felt very awkward even drinking water in front of them. And when we stopped for meals they stayed in the parking area. One of our students that is traveling with us is a practicing Muslim and he too was honoring Ramadan, it was extremely educational to the rest of the students.

  4. Well hello there AB....Well where to begin? You certainly have a way with words....I havent had the pleasure of reading all of your blog yet but i will definitely will. Hope you are well....