Saturday, August 21, 2010

ICI Casablanca # 1er jour

Casablanca, day one. Painters white wash the roof of the Cathédrale du Sacre Coeur, built in 1930 and now an event space. Erik and David point to the sea, a mere thirty minutes walk away. The heat is scorching and even harder on those following Ramadan today between 4:29 am and 7:11 pm; for one month, the city becomes one of fasters (praying, sleeping, watching TV, exercising, playing cards, working, or preparing the evening f'tour meal, depending on their position and interpretation of the Ramadan ritual) and non-fasters (spotted at the Mac Donalds in Maarif); terraces host people but display empty tables until iftar, when the strangely empty streets suddenly stream full with people and cars late at night. It's an intense atmosphere of 'attente', awaiting. There is tension in the air too - Ramadan tends to regenerate tarmanida, "getting angry for trivial reasons", according to a article, which also states that the yearly Ramadan time should be "a training in the values of tolerance, mercy, and solidarity between the rich and poor"– a motivator for quitting bad habits and embracing virtues, in other words.
Les Abattoirs de Casablanca is an impressive former slaughterhouse complex, which we visited with Tarik today. Originally built in 1922 by Parisian architect Georges-Ernest Desmarest in Eastern Casablanca - the industrial part of the city, enclosed by Casa Voyageur ("casa traveller", a station!) and the port, Les Abattoirs were moved to the outskirts of Casa in 2002. An accord was signed between the city and Casa Mémoire* to re-program the complex into a cultural space. Well visited events have taken place recently thanks to the energy and ambition of those involved, but structural funding is still needed to make Les Abattoirs a sustainable place. To be continued....

*Casamémoire was founded in 1995 to save Marocco's architectural heritage of the 20th Century.

Tomorrow is SUNDAY and as non-fasters our destination will be the beach...

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