Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Morocco, Africa

Rabat, Morocca. Africa---The Marina is brand new. Shiny buildings and cafe's that line the dock. Enormous billboards that line the construction of new condos that will face the marina, the river and the ocean some day. Hot showers, a laundry. This is just another marina...but look again.

It is surrounded by guards.  There is a large fence that surrounds the compound. The images on the billboards show people enjoying the beach in full clothing. The women cleaning the marina bathrooms are in full Muslum cloak.

No, not another marina and not another Port town.

The city of Rabat (Row-bot) is separated by a river from another city named Sale (Sal-lay). The area has 1.3 million residents and although I don't see it as a third world country, it is obviously very, very poor. Language spoken in Arabic and French. Although they allow Christianity and other religions, the country is predominately Muslim. Five "call to Prayer" are chanted/sung from Mosques around town reminding me of my visit to Istanbul...except, these "singers" are REALLY off key. The Captain looked up what the call to prayer actually says and reported that all except the 5am say each line twice: God is Good. There is one God. Ala is god. God is good. There is one God. Then at 5am they add at the end "It is better to pray than to sleep."  I woke up at 5 this morning and caught the methodical wailing chant in the background, rolled over and thought "I think I'll praise God today for my good extra sleep."

However, there are plans for a light rail, this marina project and a new bridge to link the two cities. There are cranes and construction going on all around us.

There is a distinct difference between Sale and Rabat's Medina markets. Sale's is rougher and poorer. Rabat, still poor has more paved streets and a better variety of crafts.

Amazing woodwork, hand sewn native dress with ornate decor and exotic fabrics are visible being made in the markets. Leather goods, shoes that remind me of "I dream of Jeannie", metal work, tea pots and ceramics. Exotic fabrics also make wonderful scarfs and bedspreads for sale in the markets. And of course, the rugs. Prices are MUCH cheaper than other destinations that we have visited.  The money they use is Durham and the exchange is close to 10:1 compared to the Euro. So, 200 DH is really twenty Euro. A baguette of bread costs only 1.30DH (13 cents). The following are pictures from scenes in the Markets:

Rabat's market

Sale's Market

Things for sale in Rabat

In Sale's market

Rabat's market at night

In Rabat
Scarfs in Rabat

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