After not nearly enough time in Marrakech or Morocco, it’s time to be thinking of going home. Our tour guide takes us back to where we met him, Casablanca, to bring our circuitous trip to a close.
Yusef has been such an incredible guide, so enjoyable and informative. His English is flawless, enough so that he understands the subtle nuances and intricacies of our sense of humor and word play.
We spend our remaining hours in the bus learning about his culture and country while on our way back to the coast.
In Casablanca, our coach drives along the Atlantic seafront where large restaurants, swimming pools and sunbathing terraces gobble up the coastline greedily to take advantage of the hoards of vacationers that must come here in season.
As we make our way from the southern end of the city’s coastal boulevard to the center, I can see the gargantuan minaret of an enormous mosque up ahead perched on the waters edge.
The Hassan II Mosque is unbelievably big, and very modern (at least to my way of thinking). The grand plaza surrounding it has to be enormous too just to allow you proper perspective to take it all in. The towering minaret is more than 600 feet tall, the tallest in the world. The upper roof over the mosque is motorized and can be opened. Part of the mosque hangs out over the sea, having been designed on a platform that allowed it to do so.
Like all other mosques that we’ve seen so far, this one is incredibly crafted with gorgeous details. While most mosques are closed to the public (or to non-Islamic people), this mosque offers tours. Our visit today though is sadly limited to the exterior.
Yusef guides us back to the bus for a little more sightseeing and a stop at a Catholic church near the center of the city. Our Lady of Lourdes looks simple and somewhat dated from the outside, and yet still lovely. But the inside is where her real beauty lies. The walls are built to allow room for enormous panels of glass. And the stained glass murals installed here are gorgeous.
Yusef and our driver take us to our hotel and get us settled in for the night. Our tour has come to an end. But apparently the shopping hasn’t.
After dropping off our bags, we walk down to a neighborhood of shops for one last dose of souvenir hunting. I find a scarf and a pair of shoes, my “go to” souvenirs of choice. We stop for some pastries in lieu of dinner and go back to our rooms to pack. Thank goodness we had enough foresight to travel with nesting suitcases and collapsed duffels in which to transport our massive haul back home. And thank goodness for casters and skycaps.
Morocco has been beautiful. I hope to return someday. And I’ve enjoyed every minute with Sharon and Heather, as always. I’m so grateful to have been invited and to have shared this experience with them.
An early morning taxi to the airport for just the three of us…a tiresome but entertaining wait in a long line…relief at unburdening ourselves of heavy luggage at check-in…a last minute look at duty free…and finally we are on board the first leg of our journey home and taking off for Paris.
I admire the view of the rolling green hills as they meet the Atlantic coast, and the small patches of farms in various serious stages of planting and harvest. Way off in the distance are the Atlas Mountains, blocking my view of the Sahara beyond.
Not long into our hour-plus flight I watch Africa pass beneath the plane and move behind us while Europe slides into view. The Pyrenees are up ahead. I look back and see we are passing over the Pillars of Hercules…the Strait of Gibraltar. Two giants in the ocean, floating side by side just seven miles apart.
I remember another trip, in what seems like another lifetime, during which Heather and I rented a car and circumnavigated Spain and Portugal over the course of two weeks. One sunny day we drove along the southern coast from Granada to Jerez via Malaga and stopped at a scenic overlook to catch our first glimpses of Africa in the distance. Ever the travel junkies, I remember us talking and dreaming of someday visiting Morocco, which we could just see in the distance.
I feel like I’ve been on a guided walking tour of a great house, passing through dozens of rooms. As I pass into the next I look back and through a hallway to a wing we have already visited and catch sight of a room I have already passed through and recognize, now connecting where I have been with where I am, coming full circle. Brief as it may be, the glimpse helps me to know where I am and puts things in perspective.
Hopefully, there are many more rooms yet to see before this wonderful tour ends.