Friday, June 05, 2009

Once we reach the sea the gentility of this affluent neighbourhood gives way to the more democratic but also more flashy La Corniche, the sea front of all Casablanca, where we sometimes stop to eat whitebate and paella in a restaurant overlooking the great Atlantic with its waves crashing into the wide sandy beach where multitudes play beach ball amongst a myriad of parasols. A fine haze, like a piece of organza, often hangs across the sky softening the sun’s brilliance. This is the Coney Island, the Blackpool or the Copacabana of Morocco, with all it means of popular glamour and ice cream parlours. But La Corniche is receiving a face lift: the the whole ocean front has been recently planted with new palm trees- already 10 meters tall, I didn’t know it was possible to plant such size!- and there are new buildings popping up everywhere, mostly with the purpose of housing a new Mac Donalds or a new hotel. But hotels for whom? It must be mainly for Moroccans or perhaps tourists from other arab countries. There are very few ‘toubabs’ to be seen here, since they prefer the more’exotic’ charms of Marrakesh for instance.
These omnipresent constuction works seem to belie the universal economic crisis; and indeed a recent newspaper report told tales of woe regarding property prices and unemployment in all Morocco with the exception of Casablanca which seems to be enjoying a bubble of prosperity.
In the afternoon we often catch some sport on the big TV screen in Hotel Bellerive’s lobby or back in our room. We just caught the lovely Robin Soderling’s victory in the semi final of the Roland Garros -the French Open I believe- tennis tournament, which had the effect of making me come over ridiculously Swedish, to the point of even standing up and singing the Swedish national anthem.(This was in our room not the lobby...)
At night we mostly picnic in our room, since Keita, like all Malians, prefer to eat their main meal at lunch time. Alas, Keita is not enarmoured of Moroccan cuisine... it is particularly the all pervasive cummin which causes the trouble. The other Saturday night we went out, exceptionally, to dine at a smart Moroccan traditional style restaurant just around the corner, complete with belly dancers and waiters in fezzes. Alas, I had to go and get Keita a Mac Donalds cheese burger once we had returned back to the room- he was hardly able to eat a thing...
So, in conclusion: I do not know what sort of time we are having. It is possible that it is a happy time. We will only know later, when we compare it to times which will come. It is a hopeful time, and therefore it must surely be a happy time too...


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