So, I am just back from a week in Casablanca! I had a wonderful time, aside from the parts where I starved, pooped my pants, vomited in a dumpster, vomited in a gutter, got locked in an empty hotel, and came down with some crippling illness.
I guess I should start at the beginning. I get to the train station, and tell the taxi driver where I want to go. He spends a half hour assuring me that there’s no hotel down there, and that I should go to a place he knows. Very nice. So we argue for a while, and he calls over a buddy to convince me there’s no hotel down there. The buddy knows where it is though, and he takes me. This set the tone for the whole week.
So I get down to the hotel. It’s built above a gas station. Now let me tell you a little about the geography of Casablanca. In the north, by the ocean, are the nice areas. Very euopean. You can find all the pink golf shirts, skin tight trousers, and giant shiny belt buckles you could ever want. I call it the Jameson district. In the far, far south is the Faculte de Sciences. This neighborhood is like the Los Angeles of the Middle East. Just 5-story apartment blocks as far as the eye can see. In fact, I can’t even find it on a map of casablanca. Because the only maps I can find are of the tourist areas; so infrequently do europeans go to the southern areas, they don’t even make maps of that part of the city. For some reason, also, near my hotel, there was not a single eatery. I could drink coffee in any of six million cafes, but a hamburger is an elusive treasure. I survived all week on canned tuna fish and hamburger buns.
So the first few days, I wake up around 9 and walk for hours on end looking for apartments. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE APARTMENT FOR RENT IN ALL OF CASABLANCA. If I wanted to BUY an apartment, I’d be ass deep in apartments by now. But rent? I might as well be from the moon for all they can tell. So in one week I found five possible leads, and none panned out. I even went to a realtor, and he looked at me like I was a crazy. Why would I want to rent when I could buy?
So that’s all the apartment hunting I did. Now for the sickness. Sunday I met with a young lady that currently lives in casablanca. She is a lovely young woman with a handsome archetict boyfriend and a nice apartment in the Maarif neighborhood. She loves the Maarif neighborhood. It’s about a two hour walk from the university, so it’s sort of out of my range. I’m considering just getting an apartment there and a bicycle, but bicycles are for hot chicks and vegetarians and dudes with big weird glasses. I am not any of those.
So I meet with her, and we go to a cafe to chat, and about halfway to seeing her apartment, something shakes loose. My insides become totally unglued. I use her restroom, and I thought I was okay, but two blocks after leaving, I fall over in the gutter barfing and pooping. It was an interesting sensation. The taxi driver drops me off who knows where, and it takes me two hours to walk back to the hotel. It was not pleasant.
So, monday and tuesday pass alright. Wednesday is the holiday of 3id, so I decide to just sit around inside all day and read papers. Try and get a leg up on the research, and all. Some dude wrote a 60 page paper rebutting our pyramid argument! It was some impressive hate mail.
So there’s a knock on the door. It’s a cleaning woman, and she says it’s time for me to leave, the hotel is closed for 3id. I tell her I paid for a week, they didn’t say anything about it then, and I’m staying. She says she’ll go check with the manager. And that was the last I heard about it until I ran out of toilet paper and went to the front desk. No one was there and the door to the hotel was locked. I could get out, but if I did, I would be unable to get back in. So there I am, trapped in an empty hotel. I survived on a can of peas and a packet of tang mix. If I had to use the bathroom, I had to hop in the shower afterwords.
So thursday I wake up and every bone in my body hurts. At first, laying in bed, I think I’m paralyzed, but really it just hurts like hell. So I sit up, and blinded with soreness, and lay back down. Slowly I get in the shower and try and move around a bit, but I feel like I did the day I got back from the camel rides in the sahara. Except, the soreness was not crotch specific. It was whole body specific. And I had a blinding headache.
So Friday, I wake up and I think I’m feeling better. I haven’t eaten much, but I’m in high spirits. I go apartment hunting again. That night, I go to the Acima, the supermarket. The air inside was really stuffy or something, and while I’m at the checkout counter, I start to feel nauseous. Also, a feeling like pins and needles starts to spread from my right shoulder down towards my right hand. I get this feeling sometimes right before I barf. What I didn’t expect, though, was when the tingling got to my hand, all the muscles contracted. My hand just balled itself into a fist, and the fingers were in a really weird position. Like, my thumb was almost touching the back of my pinky, and my fingernails were digging into my wrist. With a lot of concentration, I was able to open my hand for a few seconds before it seized up again. So I just walked slowly down the street, concentrating on how cool and clean the air was, one step at a time, and opening and closing my hand. Eventually it wears away and, back at the hotel, I sink into bed, exhausted.
Now I speculate that all of this was a number of things. A lot of walking (seriously, like 10 kilometers a day in every direction) coupled with lowered nutrition plus maybe I already had a little bit of a cold. All I know is I feel like shit and it scared the crap out of me. Though, apparently, heart attacks are left handed.
Now I am back in Fes for two days to celebrate christmas. More on christmas caroling and 3id in a little while. Suffice it to say I am a little bummed out by all of this. And a little frustrated. And I need to find a washing machine.