We arrived in Casablanca in the rain. The train from Rabat ripped through a desert full of scrub and trash, sparsely populated, at odds with the pace of our train. It looked a little like highway 5 in California; with the growing storm and darkening sky, a little like the end of the world.
We visited the Hassan II Mosque, which sits over the water at the edge of the continent. It was six in the evening; the mosque was closed. A man in robes approached us and offered to take Ben to visit the fountain room, not open to women. I waited in the rain.
The mosaic porticos offered some kind of shelter. The rain moved sideways, mixed with seawater. I walked around looking for fallen green tiles like a beachcomber, wondering how often they fill in the missing pieces and how.
Some things are universal: umbrellas and taxis cost more in the rain.
Rihanna’s new single played in the Petite Taxi from the hotel to the train station. We passed a protest: police in powder blue uniforms armed with machine guns standing lazily outside government buildings. A crowd of civilians mounting in the street, waving green flags, shouting. An army battalion in olive drab fatigues awaited a possible skirmish.
As we waited for our train to Marrakech, a businessman with a briefcase asked us where we were from and told us his son lives in Michigan. He was heading home, visiting Casablanca on business from Libya. He asked how we like Morocco. “Yes, Morocco is very good,” he told us. “The weather, the people, the ocean.”