Day 889 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Casablanca, Morocco. July 9, 2020.

Many people hear Casablanca and think of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman… “Play it, Sam,” not “Play it again, Sam,” as everyone thinks, by the way. But Casablanca is, of course, the largest city in Morocco, with a population of around 3.5 million people. We visited on December 8, 2015, on a cruise, so it was just for one day. Morocco is only the second, and last, country that we have been to on the African continent. We posted about Egypt a while back. Since we knew that Morocco would be a very different culture, we opted to take a tour of the city rather than attempt seeing it on our own, as we usually prefer.

So our first stop was Rick’s Cafe, which of course was Humphrey Bogart’s joint in the movie Casablanca. Give the people what they clamor for! Of course, it was Rick’s in name only, having nothing to do the movie. After that we went to Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco, which took seven years to build. Its uniqueness also comes from being located on the beach, in fact, the largest mosque in the world on a beach. You can see the mosque, starting with the second photo.

After the mosque are some street scenes. Notice the pretty leaf-motif lampposts that line the downtown area. And of course, you can’t visit Morocco without going through a few bazaars. Here, dates, nuts, and spices were the ubiquitous items, in addition to the usual seafood and pretty flowers.

Our last stop was unusual for a heavily Muslim country…Eglise Notre Dame de Lourdes, Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. Catholics make up less than 2 percent of the population (50,000 out of 31 million) in Morocco. We were there on the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), and the first thing we saw was an outside grotto with a statue whose banner declares, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” But the church’s most noteworthy feature was its windows in bold colors, made with chunks of glass. We have included just two of them at the end of the photos.

You can see our guide, with glasses, in one of the photos at the mosque. He was very friendly, and overall we felt quite safe in the city. Some women wore full hijabs, and some wore merely a head scarf. All, however, checked out the western women in our tour group, noticing our clothing. Our initial plan for this summer was to spend some more time in Morocco, including Tangier, Fez, Rabat, and Marrakesh, but the pandemic has made that impossible for now. Maybe next summer? Stay tuned!