Sunday, April 21, 2013


Our final day in Morocco.  This is a progressive country of 360 million people.  The first transexual operation was done here in 1990, turning an Italian man into a woman.  

Hassan II minaret-60 stories high
Only 46% of the people are Arab, while most of the rest are Berber.  French and other Europeans are a decided minority.  The official languages are Arab and French.   Berber was added recently, though it was not even a written language until 12 years ago.  Unemployment is 15%, and illiteracy 28%.  The French did not invest in public education for their colonies, and the present government is trying to overcome this.

Casablanca is the largest city and 67% of the economy.  Today I went to the Hassan II Mosque to see it in the daytime.  It was lovely at night with the lights, but more impressive in the day.  Built between 1987 and 1993 at a cost of $280 million, the massive buildings surround a huge courtyard which holds 80,000 people.   Overlooking it is the highest religious tower in the world.  The three spheres on top represent the three major religions:  Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  A laser light on top points to Mecca.  Inside, the mosque accommodates 25,000 worshippers and has a movable roof.  A huge car park is underground.  It is all very modern, but with its size, luxury, and beauty, it holds its own against the ancient wonders.

Afterwards I visited the ancient Medina, or old town, built in the 12th century but destroyed by Portuguese pirates in 1468 and 1515.  It was rebuilt by Mohammed I, who was also the first world leader to recognize the new United States of America.
Tajine (clay pot) cooking
We walked through the local food market.  The fruits and vegetables looked especially fresh.  They had unusual things like live turtles and snails, which is probably a French thing.  The we went to a cooking class at La Toque Blanche.  We learned how to make basic Moroccan food, including appetizers, tajine chicken (cooked in a clay pot), and a rice and raisin dessert.  It was a demonstration, not hands on, but afterwards we got to eat the food.  There was also a demonstration of how to make Moroccan tea.  You wash the tea leaves in hot water, pour onto mint leaves, add sugar and boiled water, then put on a low flame to boil.  The water is poured on somewhat dramatically, with the stream of water held as high as possible while avoiding splashing.  It takes practice.

Pouring tea

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