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Notes on the Geography of Morocco: Casablanca: Photo 10

world pictures Morocco: Casablanca

What about the old city at night? Yes, you say? Joseph Thomson, a model of Victorian exploratorial intrepidity, came by in the 1880s and begs to differ. He writes: "the people are more ugly and dirty, the donkeys worse treated and more mangy, the dogs more numerous and repulsive, and the beggars in greater numbers and decidedly more importunate and loathsome, than in any of the other places we had yet seen" (Travels in the Atlas and Southern Morocco, 1889, p. 33; quoted by Lewis, p. 66). You could compile a daisy chain of such insults. Here's a more modest one, coming from the consummately sober Joseph Dalton Hooker, inter alia the director of Kew Gardens. Here he is writing about his trip in 1871: it is "difficult to envisage a less attractive place than Casablanca" (p. 24). Imprecations like these were music to Lyautey's ears. As he was leaving the city in 1925, he wrote: "The city walls? they're going. They're ugly. ...On the left there's the native Moroccan facade--an Arab fonduk [inn or hotel]--and on the right there's the European facade composed of large, French-style buildings. It's perfect" (p. 113).

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