Here's looking at you kid...
29.01.2010 - 31.01.2010 23 °C
We thought we'd start this entry with a handy algebraic formula on bus journey times in Morocco:
X = 1.5nY +Fba
X = the number of actual hours' journey
n = the ticket office guy's propensity to overstate
Y = a random number between 1 and 50
F = whether or not the ticket office guy has had a fight with his wife that day
b = whether he's had his breakfast
a = whether you asked him contritely enough or not
And then... just throw a dice and be done with it.
We decided to glam it and take the more expensive national bus service from Chefchaouen to Casablanca. It was only a little more comfortable but we arrived to a much warmer and sunnier Casablanca.
There's not much to see in Casablanca, being more of a commercial hub. It has lots of old art deco buildings and lots of unfinished ones too (credit crunch? laissez-faire construction timetables?). Feeling a little unsure of what we'd do for two and a half days in Casa, we immediatly did what any bus-weary, hungry traveller would do - we headed to the comfort of a bar. In our case, it was 'Rick's Bar'. It was not really authentic, as the actual Rick's Bar in the movie Casablanca was a studio set, but it has been recreated by an American woman to be sort of near the real thing - piano in the bar, lounges to smoke cigars, and the black-and-white movie silently projected on a wall. We were so happy to have a drink and non-traditional food for once (Burgers! T-bone steak! Pasta!) that we ignored the Auckland-prices and settled in for the afternoon. We were crestfallen when we realised that the place was shut between 3-6pm and we had to leave.
The rest of our time was spent walking around the city, seeing the Central Market (horsemeat anyone? Cow carcasses with ahem, apendages attached? Box of thirsty kittens?), fair to low-quality artisan shops and shops selling everything and anything.
The 30th of December was an auspicious day - Jac's Mum's 60th - so we checked out of our modest hotel and into.... the Sheraton. It was five stars, in the 80s sense, but shad all the comfort, amenities and attentive barmen required for a celebratory stay. Throw in several wines, a bottle of Moet and lounge singers seranding Mavis with Happy Birthday, and we did little but sit at the bar all day and night.
On the 31st, we took a red-eye flight to Cairo. Interestingly, at Casablanca airport security was very lax - the check-in desk didn't even open our passports, the security check involved a bribe solicitation, and immigration was the most casual and cheerful we've ever experienced.
However - Cairo! Busy!!! Cab drivers driving 140 kms an hour! Non-stop tooting in a city of 9 million (last census taken 1992 however)! Certainly a wake up call, literally, as we arrived at 6am. We checked into a very unpalacial Capsis Palace Hotel and slept and wiled away the hours until we met our Intrepid Group.
Our group of 14 were made up of a trio of Aussie girls, travelling through Bangladesh and India together; a Sydneysider; an American couple for Silicone Valley; two Canadians; another Mother/daughter pair from Hawaii and California; and oddly, a lone Austrian guy - who seemed as surprised with us as we were with him. New Years Eve was spent getting to know each other over dinner, then half of the group came up to Chalky and Jac's room (the only with a balcony) to drink Stella (not Artois, but the Egyptian local) and cheer over the swarming, beeping traffic below. Needless to day, Cairo wasn't overly festive, being a non-Western country, but we still managed to rouse some of the passersby below us. Here's to a good two weeks together!