Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 1: Casablanca

Hello world!

My name is Sarah Porter. I'm a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and am a photojournalism major. This super fantastic blog is going to be about my summer travels through North Africa and South West Asia. My love for photography and writing have inspired me to explore a region of the world that I know nothing about. I feel a little crazy for traveling by myself, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. The places I am going to see are going to be very different from my safe and convenient USA, but that's the best part of my adventure.

I really want to capture important cultural and social aspects of the places I see. So brace yourself for many pictures, a few videos, and thousands of words. The only thing that is worrying me are my two restrictions: time and money. Transportation is going to cost a buttload, but I have budgeted everything out and limited myself to 2 days in 7 major cities. If I stick to the plan, I will be able to afford everything with my savings. Wish me luck. ;)


Today: I am in freaking Casablanca, Morocco. The feeling is surreal. I have the biggest traveler's high right now. Yet, at the same time I am feeling some exhaustion. Jet lag is kicking in. The total flight time from Raleigh to Casablanca was 10 hours. The layover in New york was 5 hours. I'm pooped. PLUS the time difference is 4 hours. I slept on the airplane and on the layover so I am good to go for now. Speaking of planes, my plane (Royal Air Maroc) flew into the busiest airport in Morocco, Mohammed V International Airport. According to the brochure, it is the 6th busiest airport in Africa that had almost 6.5 million people travel through it in 2009. It's a little crazy in there.

Check out the view from my hotel:

After I dropping my bags at my hotel, I took a train to the Port of Casablanca. The ocean sparkles, no joke. Okay, maybe a little joke but still the ocean was gorgeous. As the sun sets in the sky, I snagged a few pictures and just soaked in Moroccan glory.

After my moment saying goodbye to the sun, I met two lovers who were chilling on the beach. Fatima and Ahmed are a local engaged couple, who were nice enough to give me the 411 on the port in exchange for their picture. They spoke English which was a treat, since Arabic is the official language of Morocco and I don't know it. Ahmed is a sailor in the Royal Moroccan Navy and apparently Port of Casablanca is their primary naval base. Rightly so, since it is the largest port of North Africa. It's also one of the world's largest artificial port. This means lots o' fishing, traffic, and trade; it is in a very central location between Africa and Europe. Because Fatima and Ahmed have lived near the Port of Casablanca their whole lives, they're used to the hustle and bustle.

On the way back to my hotel, I saw a strange sight. Three and a half people on a motorcycle. Apparently that's common too.

Nearby my hotel, I discovered a quaint authentic Moroccan restaurant called Palais Casablanca where I grabbed a bite for dinner. I ordered couscous, which is a traditional Moroccan dish of Berber origin. The waiter informed me it is usually made of wheat. My couscous was served with vegetables, but it can also be served with meat or fish. After my meal of light and fluffy couscous, I learned that Moroccans usually do not have desert after meals, but instead eat fruit. So, I finished my meal with a bowl of peaches, pears, and cherries.

Travel tip: It is easy and inexpensive to travel around Casablanca; it is also relieving that I can safely travel around the city using public transportation. For example, I took a taxi to get back to my hotel from the restaurant and the driver was nice and the price was reasonable.

Okay, I am thoroughly exhausted. So now I am going to hit the hay and sleep up for tomorrow.

Favorite Picture of the Day: Leaving My Print on Morocco