I went to Morocco for business last week.
Loved it, very nice place, great food and witty people but the best thing I’ve seen is the contrast between The Old and The New and it gave me great faith over the future of that country.
The Net Cafés I was using to keep in touch were full of young people, young girls in hijab, young girls with no hijab and boys of all ages all surfing the net. Couldn’t help peeping on the pages they were visiting and it was all about The West in all its shapes and forms. From U-tube to dating sites, from News channels to travel sites…all West…West, West and nothing but West. I peeped every-time and never did I see any one of those youngsters in an Islamic site. Good stuff I thought.
Put that together with what I saw in the streets and yes, the future looks good.
Starting from my airport contact…good-looking girl, pretty westernised in her dress and in her work attitude. “Good-good” I thought, “I wonder if”…well, every appropriate Italian man calculates his chances every time an eligible woman is around ;-) but she was married so my Italian flight of fantasy only lasted approx 3 seconds until I noted the wedding ring. Ah well. Drove off and was taken to a nice Riad (hotel) in which I checked in (and checked out as soon as she left. I like to be where I chose to be)
The small Riad/guest-house I was, had a window over the main square in Marrakesh and you could smell the food the street vendors were cooking. Delicious. My stomach decided it was time to go out. Got changed, got out and went to the medina….now I am not a man that likes to be pulled left-right and centre by bazaar sellers, hate it actually and a few of them had a short sharp answer to their insistence. “When in Rome, do like Romans do”…so, technically, I should have been more tolerant of their selling techniques but hey…I am the Roman and I am not known to be particularly patient as a man.
Eventually got myself some excellent fish food. Ridiculously cheap and very, very good. I liked that. I hate tourist’s rip-offs. Then again, who’s the tourist?
The bazaars were filled with rugs, carpets, and local tourist tack and fake good. An avalanche of fake goods. I wondered what Armani and Dolce&Gabbana, Nike and Reebok, Prada and Lewis thought of that but hey…all that stuff either comes from China, Italy or Chicago really so…someone’s winning anyway I thought.
Women always peep from the corner of their eyes at the Western man whom, I heard, is a “great catch” Muslim or not; apparently a lot (a lot!) of Moroccan women marry Westerners nowadays. Prime catch. Part-time, on the day, appearance-only conversion and et-voila`, we’re married.
Pity that 8 women out of 10 I saw are totally ugly. “Ah well” I thought “won’t get married in this trip then” I joked in my mind.
Still, it was dead easy to collect 3 email addresses and 5 numbers in 5 days. I guess that hunger for a decent man and a decent life is all-appealing in the land of the Berbers.
Once I managed to put the Italian in me away, I concentrated in what I was there for and in trying to take a note of something to put to the DL lions so I continued to take mental pictures and notes.
I left Marrakesh and took a train to Casablanca. Would you believe it? 4 women in my train compartment. 4 women and me. Deadly risk girls. Still, a good way to understand that society better and deeper. Took photos and short videos of the train journey. Desperately dry lands, rocky scenery, peasants and towns where modernity never got into. I saw poverty, I saw completely covered women and I saw hunger.
The whole country seemed hungry to me. No, not hungry for food but hungry for growth. Hungry for freedom and hungry for advancement. I saw goodwill and to be honest I was never singled out for my all-too-evident Crucifix. It didn’t stop anyone from wanting to talk to me, my statement of faith attracted rather than rejected and I was pleased to see interest in it. I like to sport my Crucifix at times…I know lord that vanity is a sin and it won’t get me anywhere fast but hey…allow me a few sins; I am a Christian after all.
Casablanca was dirty and sad yet its people vibrant and open. I saw more West there. I saw clubs, bars, women and seaside resorts. I also saw a lot of hijabs but probably not as many as we’d like to think. I recon half the women wear it and the other half just have no intention to but the best conversation I had was with this man, Saeed, who has two daughters and a great policy. He told me “I can close the door to the West and it will come into my house from the window. I close the window and it comes from the radio, I switch off the radio and it comes from the TV, I switch off the TV and it comes in from the computer, I switch the computer off and it will just crash the walls. So my policy with the West and my girls is simple: door’s open and I will just try to guide” I thought that was the only thing he could do by what I have seen. The place is being conquered day by day and it’s the young that are writing that page.
Saeed family is great although a bit too religious for my liking. I saw them praying and I saw the life-style but the best thing I saw is the unstoppable charge of the West and the realisation that things are changing.
I ate, I drunk and I mingled with that conservative family and I loved it. It was good to see “them” from inside. It only reinforced my absolute certainty that all we have to do is wait: Troy will fall…Troy is falling daily and nobody can stop it.
The best thing is…nobody seems to want to stop it.
The “war” is over and has been over for a few years; the Internet has won.