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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jim's Travels: part 4

This is a series of emails sent to me by my friend Jim Coe who left New Zealand to travel a bit and then maybe join the British army. I have editted them to be more story-like and less email-ish.

Jim's last exploits were his last in England before he headed to Morrocco. Lets see what he gets up to in North Africa.



Finally, what you've all been waiting for...


Sat, 06 Mar 2004 00:01:19 +1300


James Coe

Well, I know it has been a while since I last wrote, but I can explain. I am currently in El-Jadida, a coastal town about an hour and a half south of Casablanca.

I believe I last wrote to everyone in Cambridge, so I will quickly get up to speed. I headed back to London on Monday afternoon, after spending a couple of hours charity shopping with Jessie. Surprisingly, and in the last place we looked, I found this lovely Italian suit made pure wool, used of course, for only ten quid. I also got this brown velvet jacket that Jessie told me I had to buy.

For you see, I needed to be at the airport at 7am, and my travel agent, let's just call him Mr Coe, booked my flight from London City airport. This meant I got up at 4.15 in the morning so I could catch the 4.40 bus - the first of four I needed to catch to get there. It wasn't easy, let me tell you, and I even ran about 2km, pack on, along one of the routes when I missed the bus.

Anyway, got to the airport, got to Frankfurt. The weather was actually sunny there this time and it gave me a feel for the sheer size of the place. Not only is there a train around it, there are buses that take you out to your planes. Wow.

Lufthansa play music in the cabin when they land, and I have now heard 'It Must Have Been Love' by Roxette twice.

Anyway, yeah, Casablanca. Well, forget the movie; for one, it was entirely filmed in the US, and secondly the movie was based on Tangier, which just doesn't have the same ring to it. It is basically a larger, dirtier, noisier Auckland. There is not all that much to do here but yesterday I did the tourist thing. I went through the medina (the old, walled, pre-European part of the city). The streets wind all over the place and there are lots of cats. That about sums it up. On the other side fo the medina; built by the seashore is the enormous Hassan II mosque; apparently the third largest religious building in the world, the minaret is 210m high. It cost over 600,000,000 USD to build, which is an awful lot in Morocco where a lot of people earn less than 5 USD a day.

I also went to the markets and met this guy called Yousef, this oldish Berber guy. He started talking to me and seemed quite interested when I said I was a New Zealander. Anyway, he showed me around the markets, and the whole time I was wondering whether he was after my money (as I met a guy like that on Wednesday). But we sat down and had tea, and he told me where in the country I should go and what I should do. I paid for tea (two bucks) but he even gave me some Moroccan crepes. So that was nice.

In the afternoon I pottered around. I then decided to go see a movie at the local Western cinema. 'Le Dernier Samourai' avec TOM CRUISE sounded like a good one. Of course I could barely understand a word that was being said but I like to think that without the dialogue I gained a better understanding of this feature. Then I got some frites and went to bed.

I was up at 6am to get the coach to El-Jadida, a coastal town of about 150,000 an hour and a half south of Casa. The bus was really nice, nicer than the English ones. The funniest thing about the Moroccan countryside is how there are all these houses (what we in NZ would term 'shacks') but they all have satellite dishes on the roof. There will be a little hamlet, with all the places close together and the roofs bristling with dishes. Meanwhile the people will be out milking the goat or kicking the mule, or whatever. Interesting.

So now I am in El-Jadida. I checked into the beautiful Hotel Royal, at a hefty 10 NZD a night. My very next move was to find an internet cafe, as I know my anxious readers have been on the edge of their seats, postulating all kinds of wild situations to account for my seeming disappearance. Well, here I am. I plan to stay here for one or two nights, and then move down the coast to Essaouira.

But I will keep you informed. The internet cafes I have found are rather dodgy sometimes, with ancient computers that I swear are all hooked up to a single dial-up connection.

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