Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Casablanca, Morocco - 25-27/05/2007

[Last week-end, we spent a harried 32 hours in Casablanca for a reason that was no fun at all. That aside, a few notes and photos.]

We almost had to leave a member of our group behind at the airport, because she had only brought an ID card, rather than a passport. That's enough if you have proof of a hotel reservation, but I hadn't thought to print it out. So we scrambled frantically on two fronts: getting the passport to the airport and printing out the hotel reservation. The former involved calling up her parents, the latter consisted in me running around the (fairly small) Charleroi airport in search of someone friendly with an Internet connection and a printer. Not an easily-found combination, but I managed it, only to be stymied by a reservation system that asked me to log into an account I had no recollection of having created. In true movie style, the passport arrived mere minutes after the check-in had officially closed, but they let her on anyway.

When we got to our hotel, I wondered how they handled the online reservation and payment system I had used: they had no record of our reservation (and I still didn't, either). In fact, they didn't seem to have a computer at all. They let us stay the first night anyway and I managed to print out the reservation voucher in a cyber-café the next day, so all was well.

One thing we did do a lot of in Casablanca was take taxis. The little red Peugeot 106-type cars gave us an up-close look into the particularities of the local driving style. Lanes are fluid concepts: three may be marked on the ground, but they'll spontaneously become four or five as cars attempt to squeeze between each other. Pedestrians are strewn all over the street, as it makes no difference to their safety whether they cross on the green or in-between, on a zebra crossing or not. Perhaps I've lived a sheltered life, but I'm used to relatively orderly driving, one that doesn't demand the kind of constant 360-degree awareness that appears to be so basic a survival skill over there that's it's probably on the driving exam.