My flight departed from Mogadishu around 9am with Turkish Airlines (the only international carrier that’s currently offering flights to Mogadishu). It was the longest flight I have ever had. 15 hours plus 7 hours of transit at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. I rated the TK flight with 5 stars though! The service, the food, the lounge in Istanbul were excellent and beyond my expectation.
Around 17:30 Istanbul time, we landed at Ataturk International Airport. I enjoyed those transit hours at the airport as I walked around from gate to gate until I found myself in bookstore. I bought couple of books and to my surprise the price was so cheap compared to other airports I have visited. Then I went to Starbucks, grabbed my to-go coffee and headed to the mosque where I spent few minutes for prayers. I met some fellow Somalis at the airport, some were headed to Mogadishu, others to different parts of the world. Two of them were waiting their next flight after they missed their first flight to Stockholm. When I asked why they have missed the flight they told me “there is no flight announcement here”. They were right, at Ataturk you are likely to miss your flight unless you check your flight details on the screens. These sisters unfortunately never checked, they were waiting the call.
At 12 midnight, I took another flight again with Turkish Airlines, this time though with bigger aircraft than the one I came with from Mogadishu. The flight was 6 and half hours to Casablanca. Again, I enjoyed the flight and watched couple of movies. Around 6:30am in the morning we touched down at Casablanca Mohamed V International Airport. The weather was 19 degree, perfect and enjoyable for someone like me who came from Mogadishu’s hash weather.
|Hotel Le Diwan where i stayed my five days in Rabat|
I was so exhausted of the long hours trip, so I had to reward myself with long hours of sleep. I woke up around 4pm in the afternoon and went outside to see the serene and the beauty of the city. The surrounding areas of the hotel were are very charming filled with many modern buildings having spectacular Arabian architecture and the exceptional Atlantic Ocean view. At one moment I thought myself I was in the Middle East. I found local café, not far from the hotel and I sat there and started sipping the magnificent aromatic Moroccan coffee. But this version of coffee was new to me. It is made of fragrant spices i surely wanted to have it every day. At that very moment though, the flavor was intense and one of the pleasures of spice mixtures was adding and subtracting until I had a personal blend that was right for me. Then, I took a sip and closed my eyes. That taste was something else. And while I was setting there sipping my coffee I couldn’t stop watch the passing crowds, admire the architecture, and the unique dressing style especially the Moroccan Jilabiya. I also walked to the side streets and saw a local theater with posters of the famed Egyptian singer Umu Kalthum. My days in Rabat was full of work and meetings so I didn’t have time to visit city’s iconic places. However, I visited Place L’Unite Africaine “African Union Square” located downtown Rabat. The square is symbolic sign of Morocco’s pan-Africanism commitment. I was even told that Morocco was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (now known as African Union) but withdrew in 1984 after the organization accepted of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member state which Morocco consider its southern province.
|Place L’Unite Africaine “African Union Square” in Rabat|
During my stay in the city, I enjoyed the weather, interacting with locals and walking around local bazaars. One thing I liked the most was The Djellaba a long, loose-fitting unisex outer robe with full sleeves that is worn mainly in the Maghreb region of North Africa which is also very common in Morocco. I was told that the word literally means attractive, from jalaba. I got one for myself.
Another lesson I learnt from Morocco was the level of religious tolerance which was beyond my immigration. The constitution of the country stipulates that Morocco is a sovereign Muslim state and Islam is the religion of the state. However the constitution guarantees the freedom of thought and practice of one’s religious affairs. From what I observed, Moroccans enjoy religious tolerance and could be defined as the beacon of the Arab countries and the entire MENA region. For instance, you might heard a mellifluous call for prayers and see people going to the mosques in flocks while on the other side of the neighborhood you find group of Christians going to the Church. It is worth mentioning that there are very few Jewish communities living in Morocco peacefully even though most of them have moved to Israeli.
Finally after five days of amazing stay in Rabat, it was time to back my bags and go home. The goody Moroccan fiends I met couldn’t let me go without giving me a big hug where I almost felt like I was already leaving my own country. If I am being perfectly honest, I rated Morocco as the best country out of the 9 countries I have been to. And I am looking forward to another epic and adventurous trip to Morocco.
|My firs shoot on the Atlantic Ocean|
|Interacting with local Moroccan kids|
|My evening stroll in downtown Rabat|
|First time i see Atlantic Ocean|