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Back in Casablanca, in my last hotel/maison d'hote of the trip. I admit, I was a little leery, because I'd previously seen more of the bleh parts of Casa, and I booked in a guest house that came well-recommended but with shared bathrooms and essentially in the top floor of the owners' house.

I shouldn't have worried. (Well, I probably should have, but knowing what I do now, the worrying wasn't necessary.) This place is faaaaaabulous. It might not be for everyone, but it's perfect for me. It's in this cute residential neighborhood that reminds me of something you might see in the south of France - all whitewashed buildings and copious walls of flowers. It's actually across the street from a very small shantytown (I am typing this to the sounds of donkeys and chickens), but it's gated and feels safe.

Mostafa was waiting for me at the train station, which is seriously, like, the greatest thing ever. I'm going to get spoiled. Then it was off to the guest house, where I was greeted like I was visiting friends by a lovely couple in their sixties, Jean-Pierre and Estrella, who are I'm guessing French expats. I have free run of the kitchen, with little snacks and everything from wine to bubbly water, and there's a tv room, an internet room, two bathrooms, and an enormous dining area. Much like my last hotel, the design's a bit of a mix: half Moroccan, half pan-Asian melange.

I did have the place to myself for about an hour, but it turns out there was a miscommunication, and there's another American family staying for a night or two. Pas de probleme; they take one bathroom; I take the other. It's all chill, and I am delighted.

Train travel was easy enough; I shared the compartment with three other Americans for the first hour. They made sure I knew that while two of them were from New York, their other friend was from, gasp, New Jersey. They were, um, a colorful bunch. The lady liked to read out loud from the guidebook; one of the guys liked to explain things (accuracy not necessary), and the other guy slept most of the time. (There was a lot of arguing. Who put what where, and why, and how they did it wrong, etc etc etc.) They dubbed me "super-intellectual" for having booked my hotel in Marrakech before having arrived. They'd been in Spain and decided to hop over to Morocco on a whim. Their stated reason? "Well, we missed the Marrakech Express in the seventies - we went to India instead - so we figured we'd give it a go forty years later." First Tangiers, then Marrakech, and now they're on their way to Fes.

Even with the incessant teeth smacking and raucous snoring and "hey there little lady"ing and extensive, authoritative opinions on the housing market bubble in Morocco based on that one empty building they saw that one time, I cannot entirely fault them - when my sandwich turned out to be nigh-on inedbile, they graciously shared their KFC with me. It's been years since I've had Kentucky Fried Chicken; who would have thought the next place I'd eat it would be on a train in Morocco?
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Well, we've just gotten back from our last official group shindig, and I am semi-officially On My Own. (The group is arranging to take me back to Casa tomorrow to the train station, which I will board for OMGMarrakech.) I plan on celebrating the On My Own-itude by ordering something foofy from the restaurant by the pool, maybe napping in the sun, and definitely sticking my feet in the ocean again. I keep idly contemplating the spa, but I think I'm holding out for a day at Les Bains de Marrakech.

This morning was pretty nifty - the tour of the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. The first word that springs to mind is "big." The second is "ornate." I don't think there's a single unadorned inch in the entire place. (Third largest mosque in the world, largest minaret, built 3/4ths in the sea, etc etc etc.) We had an official tour guide, but I spent most of my time walking with the Dutch guy whose was born in Meknes. He'd been to the mosque many times as a worshiper, and his comments were way more interesting than the official spiel. I wore out my battery taking pictures; maybe this evening I'll get around to uploading.

Not too much else to report back. I said goodbye to several of the group who I'd gotten to know halfway well over the last few days, and I was very pleased to realize that I had several acquaintanceships conducted entirely in French. I have not spoken French this confidently nor this frequently in, I don't know. Ever? It's kind of awesome.

Tomorrow I will bid farewell to my workmates, who are headed back to Casa for a few days. (After our brief tour, I'm even gladder that I didn't make that my primary destination. Ooops.) I will bid a temporary farewell to the other woman from DC, but she and her mom will be in Marrakech my last night, and we've arranged to have dinner together. That's awfully pleasing.

Okay. Lunch, sun, nap. Go.

(Oh, and I did finish The Girl Who Played With Fire last night. I am so glad I have access to an international copy of the sequel. I don't know how you're supposed to wait another six months or so omg.)

(Oh x2, I also found out that the well-marinated, incredibly tender but slightly odd-textured chicken in this one cold salad we've been eating for the last four days is actually sheep brains. I'm debating whether or not to tell my workmates.)


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May 2013

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