The monkey arrived in Casablanca this afternoon after a long non-stop flight from LAX to Paris with another connecting flight down to the Casablanca airport in Morocco. Mrs. Kongo is dragging a bit even ensconced in the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel right on the Atlantic Ocean. Kongo joins nine other intrepid travelers for a ten-day tour of Morocco where he will be traveling around the country, exploring mountain ranges, camping in the Sahara desert, and nosing around lots of medinas, oases, and souqs. Of course it is Ramadan season so there is that and Betty, our tour organizer, put us in the only hotel in Casablanca that doesn’t serve alcohol! Seriously. Kongo is giving her the evil eye but Betty is unfazed. She does a pretty good evil eye herself. That’s the way it is. Kongo drank a non-alcoholic beer from the room minibar and brooded.
We were ushered through customs and met our new best friend and tour guide, Said, who will be revealing the secrets of Morocco to our group. By the time we slugged for nearly an hour through rush hour traffic in the city (5.4 million people live in Casablanca and traffic is like Istanbul so if you’ve been there you know) to the hotel, everyone is pretty zonked out from the time changes and plane travel. So the Kongos ate a great seafood dinner in their room (sipping water in wine glasses) and plan an early evening with the door to the patio open to listen to the surf.
Kongo did get out for a quick walk around the beach and explore the hotel a bit.
Beach access from the hotel is a formal affair where you check in with a security guard and smile at the biggest German Shepherd guard dog you have ever seen. In the picture below you can see his little beach hut.
The guy riding the horse (photo below) saw Kongo with his camera up and pointed in his direction and pretty soon he galloped over for a chat. Kongo should have seen this one coming. When the horseman launched into a long, but friendly enough, pitch in Arabic, and started to dismount to make room for the monkey, Kongo tried out some of his newly learned Arabic phrases: la, shukraan, which the monkey is pretty sure means “no thank you.” But the guy kept on and Kongo was about to try his next phrase which sounds something like “my fez is slipping off” but wasn’t quite sure about it so he just said NO! After 15 hours in the air the monkey was not getting on that horse.
The hotel grounds had a cool water wall and plant wall — two features the monkey is now trying to incorporate into his new backyard design which is the big next project when he returns home.
Morocco means “Land Where the Sun Sets” in Arabic and that is just what is happening outside as Kongo writes this blog. That’s his signal to climb into the tree house and cover up with some banana leaves. Mrs. Kongo has already climbed that tree.
Tomorrow we’re off to explore Casablanca, get some culture, visit a Mosque and a Jewish Quarter then motor east to the city of Fez.
Travel safe. Have fun.