June 23, 2009
Our first morning in Casablanca was filled with new images, interesting smells and intriguing observations. Before breakfast, my friend Sylvia and I walked through the streets of Casablanca, when we noticed that the shops were just starting to open. On the way to the market, a young woman was buying a piece of Moroccan bread with mint tea from a street vendor, before rushing off to her destination. A group of men were reading the headlines on newspapers that had been displayed on the floor of the pedestrian walk. The air was filled with the aroma of morning coffee, fresh bread and increasingly dense street pollution. At the market, mostly men were at work,- cleaning lettuce in a bucket of water to present fresh produce, unloading crates of fish and cutting up fresh meat. There were the usual flower bouquets, displayed and waiting for a special occasion. A woman, the only one in the market, was preparing pickled "everything", - ranging from pickled lemons to onions to cucumbers...A few stalls over, a young cook was preparing the terrines that he would serve his customers later that day. On the menu this Tuesday morning was a terrine made of onions, carrots and beef ribs, mixed with a dozen of pungent spices. There are cats everywhere in the market. Some are well nourished, others starving - survival of the fittest feline! One vendor offered us turtles. Immediately, I was alarmed, asking whether they were intended for food. He laughed and said: "No, they are for the children to play with!" ...and my sigh of relief was audible throughout the market hall. Every time we asked to take a picture, the answer was a friendly "of course". This market place reminded me of the many markets I had seen from Mombasa to Mexico City. One notable difference was that only food items, and no consumer goods, were being sold here. Later during the morning, we traveled from Casablanca to Ifrane in the Middle Atlas.
Funniest moment of the day: Sylvia's Marilyn Monroe experience - read her blog! We giggled all the way back to the hotel,.....at least I did!