I’m 34,000 feet up. It’s -72 degrees F outside. And we’re somewhere
above Greenland, with 3901 miles to go until we reach home. We’ve been
watching the same sunset for literally 3 hours now … in fact, I think
as we go north the sky is actually getting brighter right now! I look
down and see an endless eternity of ice that faces up into a nice pink
sunset color, which darkens with clouds, then lightens back to the blue
sky. The view is stunning, and the fact that I’ve had a meal, 2 drinks,
and watched a full movie — all during the same sunset — is really
incredible, and is a nice end to a fantastic trip.
(I can clearly make out glaciers, and where they have been carving
through mountains for thousands of years … and can see the area where
they flow out to see … it’s mesmerizing to watch it go by.)
If you haven’t flown with them, Air France does a nice job. The
pillow and blanket are at your seat waiting, then they bring by a
little kit of ear plugs, headphones, one of those eye-cover things, and
a little face wash towelette. And the screen on the seat in front is
interactive, so along with my free drinks I played blackjack … almost
felt like I was in Vegas, except for all the French.
We’ve heard french all the time for over a week. The Moroccans
sometimes speak Arabic, but I almost think that they equally speak
their former occupier’s language just as much.
Leaving Casablanca was uneventful … but I should update you with
the previous day. Tuesday was jam-packed, as we hit Meknes, Rabat and
Meknes is the home of the former Imperial Palace of Moulay Ismail,
who was probably the most influential of all the Moroccan “kings.” He
was a little paranoid, though, and had stocked enough grain for 25
years. Not only that … but that was enough grain for his 12,000
horses that he kept. We toured the ruins of the stables and the
grainery, then travelled to his tomb — one of the few Moroccan holy
sites that non-Muslims can enter — and headed to Rabat.
Rabat is the political capital of Morocco, and is very clean and
pleasant. We saw the parliament house, the king’s main palace, blah
blah blah … mostly boring stuff. However, quite possibly my favorite
site in Morocco was in Rabat — the Kasbah des Oudaias, its gardens and
the old Chellah Roman ruins. There were wild flowers everywhere, old
roman ruins that we walked amongst, and dozens of storks (!!) that were
nesting in all the trees. We saw their babies learning how to fly,
stork mating, and even one regurgitating its food for the baby to eat.
This place was unreal … even now it’s hard to believe it. Hopefully
there will be a great calendar shot out of it as well.
Also in Rabat we went to the tomb of Mohammad V and Hassan II (the
current King’s grandfather and father), which was on the site of a
tremendous mosque that was destroyed in 1755. (There was a gigantic
earthquake in Portugal then that destroyed not only much of portugal,
but vast areas of Morocco … it was something like an 8.6 or bigger.)
Since Tuesday was the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, the site was
completely and utterly overrun with Muslim visitors. It was my personal
Mecca of people-watching … I’ve never seen anything like it.
So — does anyone read these things? Is this too long to blog
about??? Well, no sense in asking now. I better just finish. From Rabat
we drove another couple of hours to Casablanca. We drove along the
coast, even seeing surfing clubs, until we got to the Hassan II Mosque.
This mosque is second (I think!) only to Mecca in its size. It can hold
125,000 people at once. (Just imagine how many shoes are outside when
that happens!) Again, since it was a religious holiday the place was
packed. The building was right on the ocean, and we stood there and
watched the sun set behind the lighthouse (Casablanca, by the way, was
named after a white lighthouse) with the gigantic mosque behind us, and
the locals milling about everywhere, not another foreigner in sight.
From there, it was off to Rick’s Cafe for a very nice dinner, while
Sam (I think actually it was Samir) played piano and we had salad with
inside-out figs (I have NO idea how they did that, but it was good)
among other things.
And that’s it … we slept in an overpriced hotel, got up, and you know
the rest of the story. Thanks for reading, and if you like this then
let me know if I should do it again (or for photography updates, etc).