Our departure from Casablanca is on the horizon. Are we sad and weepy? Hardly. Are we elated and anxious? Totally. Even though we haven’t fallen in love with our home for the last five months, our stay wasn’t all bad. We met a handful of good folks that we will miss and hope to visit in the future. There are also a few more cities in Morocco that we didn’t have the chance to explore, so there are reasons to look forward to a return trip. But for now, here are a few things we will likely miss and not miss about life in Casa.
WHAT WE WILL MISS:
Fresh Produce: While we can’t vouch for all of the produce here as being organic, we enjoyed some really great local fruits for cheap. Our absolute favorites were mandarins, avocados, and pomegranates.
Having an address: As silly as that may sound, we haven’t had a personal address since we left the United States in 2008. We’re not exactly thrilled to receive our bills every month but to live in a city with street names, avenues, and building numbers to locate your residence as opposed to landmarks and counting streets was quite nice.
Riding the trams and trains: Without a car, we relied heavily on taxis to get around town. When possible, we rode the tram which functions surprisingly smooth and efficiently. The well-connected train system between major cities was also quite impressive and made long-distance travel so easy.
Respectful Titles of Address: When a stranger is addressed, you might here the terms Hajj/Hajja (Pilgrim), Shareef/Shareefa (Honorable), Khoya/Ukhti (my brother/sister), and the like. These terms convey beautiful meanings with respect and dignity and are used by the old and young alike.
Djellaba : Our absolute favorite traditional Islamic dress is the hooded Moroccan robe. We love how it elegantly drapes both men and women, creatively displays various colors, textures, and embroideries, and functionally provides a hood for extra cover.
WHAT WE WON’T MISS:
Frenchy-ness: No disrespect to the people of France or their language, but the saturation of French culture here in Casablanca is a bit of turn-off. To live in a Muslim land and hear greetings of “Bonjour” and cheek-to-cheek kisses across genders was a bit startling. Seeing the hours that young men spend passing time in café shops smoking with tiny glasses of espresso seems pretty pointless too. It’s a shame to see the current generation becoming so francophone that they are losing or have lost their Arabic or Amazigh tongue completely.
Sports Fanatics: Almost every Sunday, enthusiastic youth march down my street en route to the stadium. I have no problem with their hobby but I will not miss their loud chanting and disruptive behavior while walking through the neighborhood. Save all of that for the stadium, if you don’t mind.
Lack of recreation: A constant frustration has been the lack of playgrounds and parks. There are urban green spaces where you can sit on benches under trees but in many cases, you’re not allowed to walk in the grass and there is nothing for a young child to actually do. A few private playgrounds and play centers charge admission which takes away their appeal.
Grand taxis: Ah, the misleading misnomer known as the grand taxi is not grand in the least. While the vehicles are larger in contrast to the petit taxis that only take three passengers, they are hardly double the size to warrant six passengers. Two people share a single front passenger seat while four share the rear seat. Grand taxis are generally a cheaper way to cover long distances but they are not well-suited for the portly or claustrophobic.
Lack of community: More than the inconveniences and nuisances we’ve faced here, the hardest challenge has been lacking community. Other expats have told me that it takes years to find your community in Casablanca but that’s not time we have to spare. Having friends and like-minded families to meet and fellowship with would have certainly smoothed out our stay but probably wouldn’t be enough to keep us in this city anyway.