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Rabat and on to the Blue City

March 7

Today, after breakfast on the roof of the hotel, we drive to the capital of Morocco, Rabat where we visit the Archeological Museum (Museum of History and Civilizations) and the Contemporary Art Museum, both of which are very worthwhile and manageable in size. The Archeological Museum has a wonderful collection of works form prehistoric times to approximately the 13th century, all beautifully displayed and lit. We get a taste of what it’s like for the non-English speaking world, though, because artifacts are labeled (in very small type) in Arabic and French.

The Contemporary Art Museum has a varied collection of paintings, some to our taste, and many, not so much. Below are photos of segments from several pieces. There’s certainly enough of interest to make a short visit worthwhile.

We meet our friend Rick Gaynor (we were not scheduled to go to Rabat, but went primarily to see Rick) and his German girlfriend, Anna, for lunch at Ty Potes, a small restaurant Rick has picked that specializes in crepes.

You may recall from my first post, that Rick is the son of Chicago friend, Judy Gaynor, who I ran into at a lecture in Chicago and planted the idea of a trip to Morocco in my mind. Rick is a lawyer who I met even before I knew his parents because probably 35 years ago he was a young associate at a San Francisco law firm that I did some consulting work for. He is a free spirit, we hit it off and have stayed loosely in touch over the years. He has traveled a great deal, and lived in places around the world, so I’ve occasionally sought his advice.

Rick currently works for Millenium Challenge Corporation, a US governmental organization that funds economic development projects in stabile countries around the world in five year substantial, non-renewable grants. Rick is currently finishing the second year of a 3-year commitment he made in Rabat, Morocco, working on the portion of a $900 million grant that deals with reformation of real estate records and land ownership in Morocco, a delicate and highly political project. Anna works on development projects for Germany.

After a delightful lunch with Rick and Anna, the four of us visit a photography exhibit Anna knew about across the street from the restaurant, of works by Daoud Aoulad-Shad. The photography is good, but not great.

Carol and I are then driven approximately 3 1/2 hours up the coast and then north-east towards the Rif Mountains and its rich agriculture of lush produce, both legal and less so (it’s a huge producer of hashish), but both beautifully nurtured. We head to the once sleepy town of Chefchaouen, which has become something of a must for visitors to the North of Morocco. This charming mountain town, known for its sky blue painted streets and fragrant orange trees, offers a relaxed alternative to the more bustling cities of Morocco. With a Spanish vibe it reveals the Andalucian traditions that influenced the region. A haven for photographers and fans of color, most of the population still is in traditional dress, the women in particular are colorful in their pom-pom lined hats and aprons. Our brief walk/climb to our hotel confirms that the town seems quite charming, our first real taste of what we think of as Morocco.

It’s after 5:30 and drizzling when we arrive so we have no real opportunity to photograph. Here are a few examples, though. More tomorrow.

Surrounded by magnificent mountains and nestled in the heart of the medina, our “hotel”, Lina Riad, a luxurious riad, enjoys a privileged location in one of Morocco’s most unique destinations. The bright and spacious suites enjoy the views of the surrounding peaks and the bustling medina, and the 300 square meter terraces offer spectacular views, making Lina Riad one of the most peaceful places in the world.

Because it’s chilly and raining, and at Younes’ recommendation, we forego dinner at the restaurant recommended by our travel agent in favor of dinner at our riad. Dinner is quite excellent, with a terrific chick pea soup, and Carol raved about her vegetable terrine. We’re happy to have stayed in and be able to retire early, as tomorrow appears to be a very full day.

1 comment to Rabat and on to the Blue City

  • jeanzunkel@gmail.com

    Seems like the trip is going well. So glad you were able to see your friends.
    I love Chefchaouen….never knew that I liked blue so much.
    Jean

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