Fetch-a-Phrase

Language, linguistics and travel. A blog that tries to bring them all together.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Casablanca

It took thirty-five minutes to cross the Straits of Gibraltor from Tarifa to Tanger and arrive in a colliding world of casbahs and apartment building, the call to prayer and pop music. With customs cleared and money changed we immediately left Tanger and headed south on Morocco's only toll freeway; destination - Casablanca. Thanks to the eponymous movie, the city's name conjures up images of exotic locals in which suave characters delve into intrigue over mixed drinks. Modern Casablanca is noted for its ugliness and pollution. We arrived in the city with a map that proved to be almost useless and with the glare of the setting sun cutting through the windshield like a knife. Invariably we found ourselves utterly lost in the city's mad rush hour with pedestrians flooding continuously around the car like a lapping tide. Trygve rapidly modified her driving habits to fit in with the maelstrom while trying to follow my blind directions to turn left or right or go straight ahead. We didn't have the faintest idea where to find a hotel and, with mounting stress, almost abandoned the city. Whether we could have found the way out at that point is debatable. Finally we settled on trying to find the Place Mohammed V, a large green area in the center of the city, according to the map. This seemed to be the only way we'd be able to get any bearings. Directions elicited from passersby began with concerned grimaces followed by labyrinthine explanations involving splits in the road and remembering to turn at certain neon signs. Eventually we succumbed to the classic stop-at-a-gas-station-to-find-the-way scenario. By the time we had parked the car and got a hotel room, Trygve looked like she was in a state of shock.

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