A Quiet Weekend in Rabat

After my frenetic, culture shock-driven introduction to Morocco by way of Tangier, the past weekend was like a glorious vacation from vacation. It's true that the modern capital city is simply more chill by nature (even the medina, laid out on a grid, feels more orderly and less like being trapped in a video game where the walls around you constantly move and the antagonists are merchants pressuring you into spending money - oops I just described Fes there; more on that later) but I also had the pleasure of staying with my parents' friends in their spacious embassy-sponsored flat (the husband is a diplomat) and got to hang out with their adorable three-month-old son.

Rabat essentially has three main attractions: the chellah (necropolis and medieval ruins), the Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohammad V, and the medina. All are relatively close to one another, easily covered in a day, so for most of the weekend I tagged along with the couple - to a play reading of The Importance of Being Earnest (I was Merriman, the butler) with some other English-speaking expats, a friend's birthday party, and a shopping excursion across the river to the Complexe artisinale oulja (i.e. pottery market - a much more hassle-free retail experience than haggling in the medina shops; some of the trinkets I purchased may even find their way into the hands of a few lucky readers).

Having seen a local's perspective of Morocco in Tangier, it was interesting to get a sense of the other side - the expat experience, especially since many of them were in some way connected to the US Embassy and government. I can't say I know many people who have jobs like that, requiring them to get reposted every two to three years to another country, but for someone who likes to travel and learn about other cultures as much as I do, it sounds pretty, well, awesome. 

Below, a handful of snapshots of Rabat.  See the rest on Flickr

1. Storks nesting on top of the ruins at the chellah. I was scared they would descend (I'm terrified of birds) but they stayed up top the whole time. 

2. Mausoleum of Mohammed V. Beautiful example of Islamic architecture. 

3. The Kasbah from a distance, with Sale across the river on the right. 

4. Inside the Kasbah - blue and white walls and plenty of ornate doors. 

5. An artisan in the medina.