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Monday, October 24, 2011

the other side of Casablanca

(to my right is a slum, to my left is a 5 star restaurant)

the slum/ shanty town areas are hidden behind cement walls

We visited Casablanca in Morocco. We loved our first experience in North Africa. The food, the people, the language, the culture...Our 2 week stay barely skimmed the surface of this amazing culture but we are so excited to delve deeper into this exciting world.

Besides the common visual images of Morocco: beautiful tiles, carpets and mint tea, we were surprised to be confronted by the other side. Air pollution, littering, shanty towns and plastic (!).
The city felt like one big contradiction. Slums next to 5 star hotels and top restaurants. Trash scattered everywhere, chaos, pollution outside but immaculate spaces inside.

There seemed to be a misconception in attitude: the bigger the car, the bigger the house, the more you waste, the wealthier, more powerful you are. Plastic and it's "throw-away" attitude was everywhere... there seems to be this idea that excess symbolises wealth, that same feeling that advertising in the 60's was portraying...and plastic is one thing everyone can use in excess.

There is no recycling system. The poor go through household trash on the side of the streets and they are the only form of recycling in Morocco... pulling out bottles and re-selling them. There is no understanding or education Re: the environment and ideas of sustainability.
At the moment the city is busy "re-building" Casablanca, with plans for it to become the next Abu Dhabi.

Moroccan houses are immaculate, they are like opening a door into paradise after experiencing the pollution in the streets.
There is a big contradiction between the inside and the outside. My inner world and your other world. It was extreme in Morocco but you see it in other countries too... possibly in more subtle ways, but it exists.
It feels as if we need to find a way of re-connecting this inner and outer and then maybe we would treat the outer world with as much respect as our inner world?

'We are all connected, we are all related, there is no I and the other, I am the other, the other is me' Satish Kumar


  1. Sounds very similar to Sudan...

    In the slums of London in the 1800's it would have been the same, the rich being wasteful, the poor being resourceful.. and the great gap in between. It would have been important to show your wealth and status in society - the more extravagant the better, because it was such a big achievement to not be in poverty. But over time, things change.
    I have hope.. mostly..!

  2. Wow. That's a real eye opener.