Day 31: Paradise
Looking at you has been paradise to my eyes today. ~ Hassan (tour guide at Volubilis)
As I write this, I begin Day 5 of my trek around this beautiful desert country called Morocco. While I go back to talk about the places I’ve seen and people I’ve met, I’ll show you the world that the Moroccans have shown to me.
This day begins in Casablanca.
For those who have romantic notions of the city of Casablanca because of the movie starring Humphrey Bogart…wipe this clean of your memories. That is not Casablanca anymore.
Instead Casablanca has turned into a more commercial district. Companies like Samsung, LG, and Citi have popped up with skyscrapers across the desert landscape. The port city has become a booming city filled with so many people that you start to feel like you’re in a third world Times Square on its busiest day of the year. Except…these aren’t tourists. These are the people of Morocco running to and fro with little to no concept of street boundaries.
People walk or bike along the main roadways (think major metropolitan freeways) along with motorcyclists, taxis and cars. There are no lanes…just a bunch of cars all heading in one direction or another…all stacked bumper to bumper. If you survive this shock factor of how you haven’t gotten in an accident just getting from the airport to the hotel, then you’re doing okay…FOR NOW.
The hotel, Royal Mansour (a Le Meridien hotel), is a hotel you may remember from the movie Sex & The City 2. The lounge was featured in the movie.
Sitting in this beautiful lounge filled with Moroccan and international businessmen gives you a sense of importance. You are in a beautiful, very rich place.
While Royal Mansour may not like what I have to say about my accommodations, next time around they’ll get a real review since I will be staying there again in a week. The room I stayed in at the time had a mildew smell to it and the hot water was turned off for some reason (i.e. you turn the hot water nozzle and no water…just the cold side came out with water). I didn’t report it at first because I thought this was Morocco…maybe they didn’t do hot showers. My driver, Driss, told me I should have called the reception to report it because I should have hot water in all of my hotel rooms…so now I know.
The next morning we headed to the Hassan II Mosque. It is the third largest mosque in the world. It is so elaborate. It was designed by craftsman and artisans by hand. In Morocco, you will not find their world designed, decorated and made by machines. They take pride in their skills. Every single thing is made by hand…including the inside and outside of the most elaborate buildings you have ever laid eyes upon…and it is all perfect in every single way.
The one photo I captured at the mosque that I’m very proud of was the moment I captured a Muslim woman in pink walking across the courtyard. I’m not supposed to photograph women in an Arabic country, especially a Muslim woman…that is…unless she’s a widow and has given me permission or her face is completely covered.
In this case, right as I snapped the photo, the wind had picked up from the Atlantic Ocean and her pink shawl fell across her face. It was a brief second and I caught it, making this photo completely acceptable to share with the world.
After we left Casablanca, we headed to Meknes where we stopped to visit a couple of mausoleums and a kasbah. We had stopped to see the Royal Palace in Rabat, but there was something going on at the palace. The guard told me in broken FrEnglish (French/English) that they had reached their limit for the day. I couldn’t visit the royal palace. My driver remarked that the city seemed to have increased security everywhere we went so something must have been going on.
In the late afternoon we headed to Volubilis, the ancient ruins of the Romans. This is where I met Hassan. He’s a tall, older man with a blackened smile. His passion all lie in the ruins of a great Roman city in Morocco. His energy and excitement as he explained his everyday paradise was incredible. He knew every spot where you could take an amazing photo.
As the sun set to the West of the ruins, I was able to catch the first sunset of many in Morocco. You can’t help but look in awe at the sunsets in Morocco. Even watching Driss watch the sunsets…you know you can’t get enough of the splendor and beauty of every Moroccan sunset.
It was Hassan who told me at the end of the tour that he wanted to show me my house. I said, “What house?” He showed me the House of Venus. It was so called that because of the mosaics of Venus found there centuries later.
As Hassan led me to the gates of Volubilis to meet back up with Driss, he said to me that every day he gets to look at this paradise that is Volubilis. It is his paradise, but today, he said “Looking at you has been paradise to my eyes today.“
To this day…that is one of the most beautiful things any man has ever said to me. I would find that most of the men I would encounter on this trip have just as many poetic words. In a way, for me, it makes me feel like I’m falling in love with the country of Morocco.
More on this on Day 32 when I tell you about the carpet seller who invited me into his home to talk to me about spiritual things, love and berber carpets. I’ll also tell you about my tour guide through the medina of Fes.
I will only say that if I came to Morocco to find a husband, I’d have my pick of the lot. There are so many beautiful men here, with such passion in their hearts. They look at the beauty of the soul within, the smile across the face and the passion within a woman’s heart. The eyes are the gateway to the soul, and here…the Arabic men have told me some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard uttered in my ear.
They actually make me feel more beautiful than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I’ll explain more when I tell you about Day 32 as I go through the Arabic medina…which ironically is not in the tour guide books as recommended for tourists. But if you have a native Moroccan man escorting you throughout the medina, you’re fine. I’ll tell you how the Muslim/Arabic men responded to me being within the walls of their medina.
And what I tell you about how I’ve spent my entire time with men and not women…this one will shock you.
I will also say that I’ve had so many conversations about the way of the Muslim/Arabic people and I have to say that there is so much spirituality, love and kindness in their hearts that they are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. For the loyal readers here, a lot of you know how I freak out when a man makes his intentions known to me…you should be asking why I’m not getting freaked out here with so many men approaching me that the guides have to shew them away. Why am I not scared? Why do I feel completely safe?
That will be for the Day 32 story.