Casablanca: before and after sickness

Jon's plane was scheduled to depart from Casablanca early Friday morning, as this was the only possible way he could make the 1 pm flight out of Paris to San Francisco. I had taken care of the travel arrangements, and wasn't particularly concerned with the 50 minutes Jon had to catch his San Francisco flight once he hit Paris grounds. He didn't seem too concerned either, though it was obvious to anyone who knew anything about Paris and Morocco that this would be a very tight call. We decided to ignore the ominous warnings and enjoy our last few days in Morocco.

After several days of expeditions through Fes' Medina we were ready for a new facet of Moroccan life (well, ready is just a metaphor, as none of the information we had absorbed in the past week was anywhere close to being processed, but we seemed eager for a fresh bombardment of travel and difference). Casablanca, or Casa as the locals refer to it, proved to be a rather interesting challenge.

"I'm glad we didn't start here" was Jon's only real comment about the city. So was I. Not that it isn't a great place to be- but a unique one, and not "typically" Moroccan (in the very orientalist sense of the word). Huge stretches of developed land, never-ending neighborhoods, cars coming in every direction and a very odd mixture of French and Moroccan architecture. It felt like the bustling economic center it is renown for- and neither of us was really looking for business vibes right now.

Our sojourn in Casa was considerably improved by the heartwarming hospitality of our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Laraki- parents of Othman, a close friend of mine. We spent several hours in the protection of their home, listening to tales of a world we were only beginning to explore. Tales of life and not just of imagination. We ate endless Moroccan meals, drawing nourishment both from the food and from the conversation. I fared better with the conversation than with the food, but Jon was there to back me up, making up for my embarrassingly small appetite. Little did I know that my minimalist eating habits would seem lavish when compared to my second visit, only ten days later.....

Jon left that Friday, as planned- I had a difficult time falling back to sleep upon my return from the 5am expedition to the airport. I couldn't help but the feel the symbolism of the moment: this really was the beginning of a new life. The Larakis helped me seal this impression by giving into a curious desire of mine: the Hammam. Ever since Jon's stories of thorough skin cleansing in the Fassi Hammam I was set on getting my old skin removed as well. And so I went. And so I returned, red as a lobster and clean as a cat. A welcomed shedding and metamorphosis. Soon, the hammam would become a habit.

The real shedding was to occur a few weeks later, when I contracted a rather unfortunate intestinal bug which sent me to bed, to the bathroom and back to France. The real problem was eating- and it became clear to all those around me that I was letting my spirit dwindle with my appetite. In an effort to revive body and flame, the Larakis imported me to Casa (literally, I was shipped along with a car destined to be sold in Rabat!), where I sought refuge in home made soups and crepes. While the mind tried (briefly I confess), the body didn't really follow and my parents' presence in Casa only worsened my fears. A last minute commando operation sent Mom to Fes, where she battled elements, drowsy taxi drivers, ruined car engines and unlikely travel companions to reach my passport and belongings in Fes. We flew back to France the next morning- where I spent two weeks recovering from 10 days of unwanted fast.
I now tell people I was training for Ramadan, the month long Muslim fast....