This morning we woke up and found the ship had already docked in port. Blue sky and hot, even though it was still only 8 am. After breakfast we had a walk around up on deck to scan the sky-line. Casablanca is a very busy port and the cranes and container ships were already hard at it loading and unloading the many thousands of containers that we could see just around us, the port seemed to stretch way into the distance.
By 9.15 am we had disembarked and were walking along the quay with many other passengers towards the city. It was quite a trek. All Arab cities I have ever been to are an assault on your ears and this one was no exception. The car drivers just seem to lean on their hooters as a normal driving technique. Allah knows why you should pay any attention to one beep as apposed to another as they are all at it! After around 20 minutes walking and gambling the traffic we found the Medina.
We wandered through the rabbit warren of alleyways and streets looking for nothing in particular but ended up on several occasions bartering for things that caught our eye. After a few purchases, we knew we had done well when the final deal was a tiny fraction of the opening gambit and we could see with satisfaction that the look on the shopkeeper’s face was one of disgust. But, when you are hardened Hedge Fund managers like Sue and I, we know that it is a loss of face to an Arab if he enters into serious negotiations (with dollars) and thinks the shop next door might persuade us with a more tempting offer. When we had enough of the clamour and attention grabbing traders we walked back to the ship for lunch.
After lunch we picked up the bus number of our excursion to Rabat. We were again one of the first on the bus. Jonathan and his mother were also on the trip. The guide we had was a young Arab girl and was very good (she needed to be). The journey to Rabat took asleepy one and a half hours and Sue had a little doze on the way. As we entered the outskirts of the city a local Taxi ran into the back of our bus as we left a roundabout. The driver and guide after much arm waving and gesticulations with the Taxi driver resolved the situation and the journey continued.
We arrived at the King’s palace a little late and after a whirlwind visit of the toilets (I visited these on the way back and didn’t meet the king), his mosque and then his palace, we returned to the coach. As palaces go, it is at the bottom of our list for size, architecture and interest. It just shaded the toilets (which appropriately were at the front of the Mosque, heresy!!!).
We next saw the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. It was quite pretty but not of any substantial size. The main interest was the Islamic fanatacist who attacked our guide, rebuking her for not treating the Mausoleum with sufficient respect by talking loudly to us infidels. She wouldn’t go away and had to be restrained by a guy who I assumed was a relative. When things calmed down we got back on the bus and travelled to the Medina. There we had a very short walk through the streets, before returning to the coach for the journey back. Sue managed to negotiate with a street trader for an amber and silver necklace before she got on the bus.
It was dark (7.45 pm) by the time we boarded the ship and after a quick change we went to the restaurant on Deck 10. We had our meal with Jonathan and his mother. The entertainment in the theatre was a video of a Pavaroti concert, we briefly watched it before returning to the cabin to watch TV.