Las Palmas, Spain
15 September 2006
It was so nice to get on Spanish territory again. Our last European stop before we cross the Atlantic, I had plans to mainly sit on the beach all day and enjoy the environment. I had one mission today; to post Maria Moreno a package of things that I had collected over some ports since she is in Madrid now. It wasn as easy as I would expect. I asked around for a post office or somewhere to send post but everything seemed closed all the time. I spent a few hours combing the boardwalk and also inside the centre for anything. Since I had no euros left, I also had to change over some dollars which also wasn a simple matter. Las Palmas is definitely a slow moving sleeping town.
Anyway, after spending the morning searching, I crashed on the beach and woke up a while later with drool on my face. I was really out of it. I went to buy some groceries and then bumped into Maria and Emily. We sat down for some paella but Emily and I simply wanted to get on the beach. We spent the rest of the day lounging around drinking wine, eating olives and chorizo and allowing gluttony to overtake us. I went swimming to the Barra de las Canteras with Akiko and Kya on my back. After that Maria and I set out to continue my post mission. We finally found a real post office so I could send the package to my other Maria who is in Madrid right now. Then we bought some groceries for the ship and headed to a caf? It was nice to sit and have a coffee and chat with Maria surrounded by the culture of the Canaries. From there we headed back to the ship with one little stop at El Muelle shopping centre. However, time wouldn let us relax and as every port, the isen limit? or boarding time, made us rush back in a frenzy. Tonight we will begin our journey across the Atlantic. We will arrive in Jamaica in 10 days. I can imagine yet what 10 straight days will be like on this ship without a stop.
12 September 2006
This morning I was debating whether or not to go to Marrakech or stay in Casablanca. Most of the GET team were heading to Marrakech in search of Arabic markets, snake charmers and the other mysterious elements of Morocco. I opted to stay in Casablanca mostly for my sister sake. Since we were in high school, my sister, Jen has always been fascinated by the film Casablanca. So I watched the film the night before arriving and headed out in the morning in search of infamous signs of this classic city.
At first I was leaving the port when I bumped into another passenger. We headed out of the gates into the mess of the city. Port areas often have similar characteristics anywhere in the world. Casablanca was no different, with a dodgy area around us, we headed out to explore. We walked around the walls of the Medina staying on the outside. The bustling market was definitely local and we didn exactly belong in the atmosphere. Passing by a small alley, we stepped inside to take a look. As we got deeper into the maze, a man sounded a small horn. It felt very fishy. Some men from a distance seemed to be entering. Suddenly a woman appeared and said ortez dci, je vous en prie.?She guided us out of the windy streets and back into the market street. It was a very unusual and mysterious moment within the labyrinth. Sometimes those angels appear just when you need them.
After that we headed into the centre area of Casablanca. We got on the internet where I happily spent an hour and a half checking mail, chatting and putting together my blog. I met Jasna, the International Students?co-ordinator and we decided to spend the day together. We went into the Medina and I realised that inside the walls was where I should have gone earlier! The Medina was quite well organised in a chaotic sort of way. Lot of fake brands and random items but also food and other market goods. We then took a taxi to the Great Mosque Hassam II, the biggest Islamic mosque in Africa. It was so great to be around Jasna because she is a lot like me. She had no major plans for the day nor does she go around for photo opts. So we sat outside the enormous mosque and enjoyed the view during a great conversation. Of course I eventually snapped a few shots for blog purposes
Then our mission started. We decided to search for Rick Caf?to get a drink and pay our tribute to Casablanca. I thought that I couldn visit Casablanca and have to tell Jen I didn visit it. We had seen the caf?on the way to the mosque but we had little orientation having been led by taxi. We thought it was sur la c矌e so we headed up to beach area. We searched for hours having little luck catching a taxi in the heat. When we finally arrived, we couldn find it nor could we find anyone who knew anything about it. We had a coffee on the beach and headed our way back to the mosque to retrace our trip where we had spotted Rick earlier in the day. We finally found it after hours and hours. We went in and had a pricey drink. It was a nice caf?and you could see the intent to create a replica of Rick from the film. Natalie, Jen and Nikki also showed up and we went upstairs to sit with Amanda for some peppermint tea. Upstairs was quite beautiful, and the film was playing on a screen in the centre.
After Rick we went back to the beach area for dinner. We had a nice dinner on the roof of a restaurant overlooking the boardwalk at night.
Day two in Casablanca was very nice. I got up a little late this morning without any official plan again. I went to a French caf?in the morning and bought a copy of Le Monde. I sat outside of the caf?for over two hours filling my head with all the world news I could whilst drinking the most gorgeous coffee. I was planning to meet Jasna for lunch but she passed me at the caf?so we went to lunch early. After that I went to do internet for another two hours. I didn have any cash on me so I decided to head back to the ship. The most insane thing about this place is the walk from the port gate to the ship. It well over half and hour and I can understand why Peace boat hasn organised a shuttle bus. However, it gave me the opportunity to chat with an old lady who actually went to Amami Oshima last year. She raved about canoeing in the mangroves. At the ship I saw Kana and Shradha and they convinced me to head back to the town for the last few hours. Kana and I went for an avocado smoothie (amazing!) and chilled out on a gorgeous street in the centre of Casablanca. How could I have spent two days exploring and not have noticed this street? We then went into the Medina for supplies and bought a huge amount of olives and bread.