A couple of weekends ago I took part in the Journées du Patrimoine de Casablanca and I’m due for an update on that.
First, some numbers:
150 volunteers helped to organize and carry out free architectural/historical tours of 15 Casablanca landmarks. Over a couple of days, 10,000 visitors took part in the tours, including 2,500 schoolchildren from all over the city. Tours were available in a few languages, most readily in French and Arabic.
The stated purpose of this event is to raise awareness among Casaouis about the city’s architectural heritage. The goal was to target people who live in the city, those who are most affected and who might, down the road, contribute to the cause of historic preservation. We were asked not to distribute too many flyers to tourists, who aren’t likely to become advocates.
In reality, it was observed by volunteers at various sites that many participants were tourists, or temporary residents. Foreigners, in other words. In an earlier post about the tours a friend and I debated back and forth in the comments about the supposed “Europeanness” of Casamémoire, which might account for a lack of interest among Moroccans.
The Moroccans who did go on our tours, ironically, would often comment on the fact that “Moroccans aren’t interested” in architecture, or in the built environment generally.
Yet, most volunteers were Moroccan and, significantly, did not appear to all belong to the Casa elite.
At the marché central, where I was giving tours with a handful of other volunteers, passers-by would ask to see our flyers. Many were curious, but having come to the market to do their shopping, were all business. Some hadn’t heard about the event, despite the association’s media outreach. A few people stopped by for a moment to chat with volunteers about the event and the association’s work, even if they didn’t take part in the tours. Many commented on how sad it is to see the ruins of the Hotel Lincoln, a registered architectural landmark across the street from the market.
On a more personal level, I got to become a low-level “expert” on the marché, spend a weekend with interesting people, and make friends with a few vendors in the market who saw me and the other volunteers come by every few minutes.
Coming up next: a virtual tour of the marché central.
À ne pas rater! Venez nombreux et profitez ce week-end des visites guidées offertes GRATUITEMENT par les bénévoles de Casamémoire, 11h-13h, 14h30-17. Certains sites—Tribunal, la Wilaya—sont ouverts exceptionnellement pour cette occasion !
(Je serais au Marché Central à partir de 14h30)
Don’t miss this chance to take advantage of the FREE tours given by the volunteers of Casamémoire, 11AM-1PM, 2:30-5PM. Some sites–the courthouse, the Wilaya–are open to the public specially for this event!
(I’ll be at the Marché Central starting at 2:30PM)
There isn’t much information online about Tamaris II except a few testimonials from travelers and some ads for renting or buying property there. (Just a short drive away from Casablanca! Right on the beach! And cheap!)
My friend Nicole and I were taking a long walk along the beach around Dar Bouazza when we came across this post-apocalyptic scene. The bungalows are perched thirty feet from the beach on a little cliff which, as it turns out, was not all that sturdy. From the look of those little houses still standing, it seems that the cliff is not the only thing that’s not sturdy.
What’s really surprising about this little ghost town is that anyone still stays there. I say “stay” instead of “live” because it’s originally a camping ground. There is no electricity, no running water although there must have been at some point because from the beach you can see some exposed pipes.
Many of the houses facing the ocean are condemned, and covered in white tarp, but among the inside bungalows, a few look lived-in and even…cute.
It seems that Tamaris II must have been quite the well-equipped vacation town/camping ground when it was built, during the protectorate according to the attendant in the parking lot a few yards away.
Today it looks like someplace straight out of a Stephen King novel, and is by far one of the coolest things I’ve seen this year.