a different view of rabat

My vacation in Morocco is quickly coming to an end – I have to go back home to Finland in 3 days. It’s been a great and relaxing 10 days here, despite getting food poisoning (which, thankfully, I’ve recovered from quite quickly) – we’ve had great food, picked fresh fruits from the trees around the house, played with the kittens (I’m sure there’ll be a blog post about that, too) and enjoyed talking and hanging out with family.

My parents-in-law live about 30 minutes outside the capital, Rabat. When we visit, we usually go to into town once or twice to walk around and maybe buy some things for friends and family at home. Most times we visit cafes or walk around the Medina, a kind of market square found in many North African cities (the word ‘medina’ means town in Arabic). When we went in this time we decided to make it a bit of a different town trip, though. A friend of the family took us on a tour of the (at least for tourists) less well known parts of downtown Rabat – a very lively and colourful city with palaces and collapsing houses, watered lawns and fields full of plastic waste, but friendly and hard-working people. Here’s what I saw that evening; feel free to comment!

Our walk started in the Medina. First, we walked through the clothing parts with the shoes, the djellabas and the beautifully ornamented shirts, but only to be able to reach one of our destinations – the working areas. To reach these we had to go through some rather dark alleys and up some smelly stairs.

Climbing up to a roof top, we stopped for a while to chat with (and for me, take pictures of) some craftsmen – this guy was working on a basket.

Up on the roof of the medina, I got to see the city from a different viewpoint – the houses where people live…

the numerous satellite dishes (great way to learn the direction if the sun isn’t out!) …

… and the (very unfortunate) piles of plastic waste. It’s really too bad – the country is so beautiful, were it not for the plastic bottles in the ditches and on the fields, and the countless plastic bags decorating trees and everything else.

We left the Medina and headed towards the Oudayas, another part of downtown Rabat which used to be a fortress. On the way we walked past people selling all kinds of things, including doors.

View from the Oudayas towards Salé.

We walked past young couples, enjoying themselves next to where the Bou Regreg river meets the Atlantic. More people were enjoying themselves in the amusement park behind the palm trees.

We walked up to the Oudayas and through its narrow streets to an open area, high above the coast and the city. The streets here have a very recognizable blue painted on the walls.

We reached the field above the beach just in time for yet another beautiful sunset. The area to the right is the beach; the area to the left is a cemetery. Lining the cemetery is a pile of plastic bottles…

But the sunsets here seldom disappoint. I’m glad I got to see Rabat this way – I’ve been here so many times now that it’s high time to be aware of the realities. Not that I’ve ever been completely naive: staying with my family here and getting hints of what working at the farm is like constantly reminds me that behind every tourist attraction, there is reality. And things seldom are what they seem.

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