Thinking back to the flight to Casablanca, if only I knew that at that moment when an arabic woman asked me to help her fasten her bra strap in front of everyone in the cabin that later on I will feel even more self conscious… ha!
So apart from that incident the flight was quite uneventful and empty! which made our lives so much easier and it was ramadan too so most passangers were fasting. I’ve heard so many stories about Casablanca flights (difficult passangers, crew crying and fighting etc) that I was so relieved that we had it easy!
On our arrival the bus driver that takes us to the Novotel hotel offered us his services by having a special deal for emirates cabin crew to see the city. Only three of us were interested but that didn’t stop our enthusiasm 🙂 it happens sometimes that some of the crew are too tired to go out, or some have been to the destination before and are not interested in going out to explore (hopefully that will never be me).
So we quickly changed and met the driver downstairs. First stop was the Habous market in the old medina… with way too many pretty things! We decided to first walk through some of the stalls and then come back, but I got so confused I didn’t know what to buy in the end! You also have to bargain the price for everythhing (which I don’t like at all) and I tried my luck at buying a nice leather travel bag. I got the price down from 350 to 230 moroccon dirhams which I guess is not that bad…
Thinking back I should’ve bought so much more stuff!! more bags, some moroccon shoes – apparently they are super comfortable, tea sets or well… everything!! 🙂 but at least I’ve got a beautiful bag to remember Casablanca by I guess.
We then went to the Hassan II mosque, the 7th largest mosque in the world! It’s very beautiful with the finest details. As I said it was ramadan so there were some people gathering to pray and it was a special moment to see even though we were not allowed to go inside. I felt like a world traveller being there, reminded me a bit about the book/movie ‘eat pray love’ (which might have convinced me to take the leap and join emirates).
Built on reclaimed land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies above sea water of the Atlantic. This was inspired by the verse of the Qur’an that states “the throne of Allah was built on water.” Part of the floor is glass and offers a view down at the sea. This feature was a result of King Hassan II declaring: “I want to build this mosque on the water, because God’s throne is on the water. Therefore, the faithful who go there to pray, to praise the Creator on firm soil, can contemplate God’s sky and ocean.”
On the outer walls of the mosque facing the ocean, there were some kids jumping into the water. they would lie flat on the wall and then one by one they would jump into the water… looked a bit too high and dangerous for me!
We then left the mosque and since the traffic was just too bad (because of ramadan) we decided to cut our trip short and to not go to Cornish beach but to rather go and experience a typical moroccan bath. yes, this is what I was talking about at the beginning of the post… the self conscious feeling 🙂
We got to this little dodgy street, and Nanna our tour guide took us into this place which looked to me like a local spa, nothing fancy at all. there we could choose the option we wanted and we decided to go all the way and took the most expensive one.
It started off by the three of us each getting a little holder with some sandals and a dress (if you can call it one) which we had to put on and just keep our little bottoms on. they then took us up the stairs to a big room with arches covered white mosaic tiles. the room was full of steam and quite humid with condensed drops of water on the ceiling and walls. we walked through this room to the steam room, where we had to leave the dress behind and just sit there in our bottoms and sandals with about 7 other moroccon women not feeling ashamed whatsoever about their sagging bodies. this was quite uncomfortable for us and they could definitely see that and started talking about us while smiling. one younger woman approached us and started to explain to us what we are supposed to do. she turned out to be living in the USA now but are on holiday visiting her family. she explained to us that we need to take the funny gel soap bar they gave us and rub it all over our bodies and sit there in the steam room for about 20 minutes until the women will call us. so we did and sat there waiting staring at all the woman going about doing their business (naked) as if they dont have a shame in the world. definitely an interesting experience!
The big moroccon woman with their skipants, one-piece swimsuit and aprons (yes that’s what the woman who work there wears) called us and we went back into the white mosaic tiled room. there were little beds everywhere and they directed us to ours.
And so it started…. I got scrubbed with a rough-textured black glove from top to toe. yes that’s right, no shame, you lie there exposed to this woman, and she scrubs you like you’re a piece of furniture that needs cleaning. I was looking around me and it looked like whales came in for a car wash! big woman laying on little beds being forcefully scrubbed by other big woman, a very weird concept to get your head around if you’re not use to somethhing like this.
After the scrubbing you get washed of by buckets of luke warm water, while sitting by one of the taps that’s permanently open. they again have no mercy and you just have to gasp for breaths in between the buckets of water flowing over your head, and might I remind you again that you are only sitting there with your bikini bottom!
They then cover the little bed with plastic and direct you to lay on it. While I was waiting for the woman to come back another tourist came to lay beside me and I saw she was just as uncomfortable as me but that she was butt naked! she might have seen my big eyes cause she told me that she lost her bikini bottom along the way, we both just gave a nervous giggle. oh so as I mentioned for the locals this is nothing, they don’t mind being naked in front of each other so most of them are butt naked as well, it’s just our little self conscious tourists that keep the bottoms on, hehe.
The moroccon woman came back and covered me in seaweed from head to toe, and before I knew it I was butt naked as well, covered in seaweed and wrapped in plastic!! haha, I would’ve never thought I would be so happy to be covered in plastic, but then I realised that soon I will be washed off with those buckets of water again and I would have nowhere to hide!!
I had no choice so I just went with it… after she drenched me in water I grabbed my bottom, put it on and went for the walk past everyone to the shower. by this time I actually felt a bit more comfortable 🙂 I came back to the little bed and had a nice oil massage finishing off the whole experience. all that the woman could say at the end was “Good?” and I just smiled and said yes thank you and then an arabic attempt of thank you, shukran
I met the other girls downstairs as they were done just a few minutes before me and we laughed at the whole experience. Definitely something to remember and something I would recommend if you are ever in Casablanca!! it really gave me some insight into the culture and how the woman come together and make this a special time for their families to bond. I have seen 4 generations of woman coming together to take this bath, even the little girl got scrubbed and pampered!
From the spa we went straight to the hotel feeling relaxed and well tired of the whole day. I ordered some room service, had a nice meal and went straight to bed.
Casablanca you were truly a unique experience!!