On The Road, to Sale and Rabat

Tali woke up, and promptly woke me up, at 2:30 this morning, despite the comfort of our Hyatt Hotel bed, and wanted me to make her couscous!  I told her that I would be happy to, but the version without visible ingredients would take quite a while to complete…so instead we read our books for an hour and then went back to sleep. Ah, the joys of jet lag!

We are driving today the short distance to the first stop on our journey, a riad in Sale, named “The Repose.”  Sale is Rabat’s sister city, separated only by the Oued Bou Regreg River, which is crossed by a monorail, an old and a new bridge, and a rowboat service.  We will be stopping along the way at whatever beach towns appeal to us.  

First we checked out of the Hyatt in Casablanca, and walked across the street to have breakfast at a streetside cafe, where we had couscous, a salad and mint teas, for a price of 120 dirhams (about $15).  We will no doubt become expert in the subtleties of both couscous and tagine as our trip continues, but this version tasted fine to us, though the “vegetarian” couscous we requested still arrived with several lachunks of meat!  We then had an espresso at a nearby cafe, before starting our drive.  

As we drove north on the coastal road, through the outskirts of Casablanca toward Rabat and Sale, we noticed that much of what would have been considered prime beachfront elsewhere is here given over to factories, warehouses and other commercial uses.  In most places along the route, the Atlantic Ocean is not even visible, hidden behind concrete walls, or factory buildings.  We occasionally saw a Beach Club, reminiscent of those from my childhood in Lido Beach, New York, a place for members to enjoy the beach and the food.   As we drove further north, through Mohammedia, we hit some gated streets filled with summer homes or apartments.  We imagined that residents of Casablanca might drive here for weekends at the shore.  

We arrived in Sale, having taken the new bridge, and in short order, at The Repose, inside the medina walls, by about 4pm.  We were greeted by the owner, Jan, who originally comes from London, but has for the past fifteen years lived in Morocco with her husband, Rachid.  They spent more than a year renovating their riad, using traditional craftsmen to reconstruct the wall finishes and mosaics, finally opening for business just one year ago.  The Repose is indeed lovely, with the public rooms, the kitchen and the owners’ quarters downstairs, the bedrooms on the second floor, and the outdoor terrace on the third floor, the roof level.  

We spent the next four or so hours wandering around the Sale medina’s winding streets and alleys, of course getting lost more than a few times.  It’s a vibrant place, with local people selling to other local people, not at all dependent on the tourist trade.  As a result, we were almost completely ignored, a far cry from the aggressive salespeople we have read about in the medinas of Fes and Marrakech.  

We returned to The Repose just in time for a late dinner on the rooftop patio.  It was a great start to our trip!

With best wishes for your own amazing journey,

Jules

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About juleslandsman

I live, when not traveling, in Sweetwater, Colorado, located in between Vail and Aspen, and in Kohukohu, a small town on the Hokianga Harbour in New Zealand. I write travelogues, memoirs, and reflections when I'm not skiing, biking, or otherwise outdoors. I retired recently from a career in the financial services industry that spanned more than twenty-five years.
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2 Responses to On The Road, to Sale and Rabat

  1. Rich L. says:

    Jules- Glad to hear that you are on the road and that you are winding your way thru the north coastal area of Morocco. As an aside, the beach front area you are on (ala Lido) does not cater to the locals- its mostly vacant or commercial land from what I recall. Pretty-but nothing is going on there. You’ll know visually when you reach some “inhabited” beach areas just by the colors- all very bright white- everything-the houses etc. Visually stunning. Also, mention to Tali that men on all 4’s are very common there- there has been lots of genetic diseases in the country that cause both physical and psychological impairment without modern medical care outside of the large cities. It is something that you get used to along with seeing lots of recently slaughtered animals in the streets-at least thats what was going on the last time I was there 5-6 yrs ago. Have a great trip.
    Love,
    Rich

    • Tali and I both thank you for your comments, Rich! This is our last day today in Sale, then we move along further up the coast, towards Tangier. Tali was quite surprised by what she saw, so it’s interesting to hear that it’s not that uncommon here in Morocco! Because I’ve been interested in visiting Morocco for so many years, and have liked the art, the music, and the stories from this area for even longer, this trip will be an inner voyage for me as well as an outer one, to see if I can discover the sources of my long-time fascination. So far, not so much… but the trip has just begun! Thanks again…

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