Morocco: Marriage of Old and New

Anyone desiring an adventure in a foreign land should consider Morocco in northwest Africa. The marriage of old and new gives depth and interest to a visit.The vista from the water appears as if from the Arabian Nights with sand dunes casting shadows in the moonlight as the ocean laps on the white beaches. Ancient towns drowse in the African sun as robed men and women travel by foot, by donkey, or by car. Europeans and Americans pass by in late model vehicles. Morocco’s combination of the most modern life with the most ancient of entities fascinates, interests, and excites me as I travel.The sun causes the city to shine like a pearl nestled by the Atlantic. Casablanca (which means white house), the gateway to Morocco, meets the eyes first in this place of adventure and beauty. From the contemporary, busy harbor to the center of the city, swarm multicolored, diversely dressed people. A flock of bright-hued, short-skirted girls with long hair flying clack by in their chunky heels. Behind glides a somber group of burnoosed Fatima faces veiled and mysterious. A young Frenchman, in the latest style, saunters by a beggar in robe and dirt. A half-naked toddler, all dark eyes and watery sores, stares at another child dressed in clean clothes riding in a stroller.In the midst of the metropolis, I visit moderately tall high-rise buildings and many of the latest stores. Then after a short walk or ride in any direction, I discover lovely old villas arrayed in yellows, reds, blues, greens — all flowers and plants. Tucked in here and pushed in there, dirty and cramped stores attract my attention. A little farther away stand shacks of straw, cardboard, mud, or tin, where misery, filth, and poverty of unbelievable depth live. The contrast between the rich being so rich and the poor being so poor shocks me.When I leave the city, a modern ribbon of asphalt runs into fog-wrapped foothills. Along the roadside, a native man upon his donkey rides before the less-than-animal woman trudging behind. A dark-faced man with a smile-flash of white tries to take all the road with one small bicycle. A European whizzes by in a bug-like car; a limousine, chauffeur driven, majestically rolls past bearing a powerful sheik.In towns or cities, such as Marrakech, easily accessed commercial areas provide for business needs. Behind low walls, villas or modest homes line wide boulevards. Along narrow winding streets that cars cannot maneuver, doors from windowless houses open directly onto the roadway. The dwellings abut each other, closely packed side by side. Children run chasing and kicking a ball, as veiled women return from market carrying the day’s needs in net bags or in bundles upon their heads.Beyond the town boundaries, a donkey and a camel yoked together plow a field. The camel will not cooperate; the donkey has to turn him. In the field next door, an American-made tractor does the work in much less time.Here and there small settlements break the skyline with most of the huts made of wood, mud, or tin; the out-buildings, of straw. Occasionally a more affluent home of stone, built around an open courtyard, appears. Little beauty such as flowers or trees brighten the outside of the drab humble “home.”In Morocco exist the wealthy and the indigent; but even more evident are the modern and the ancient ways. The rich, the poor, the old, and the new bring a flavor of enchantment to a country of Arabian Night mystery.

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