Casablanca, Morocco. We arrive as Donald Trump calls for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Some passengers don’t disembark.
First stop, the Cinéma Théâtre Rialto, an art deco gem opened during French rule.
Although down-at-heels now, stars, including Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker, were once on its stage.
I wonder about the sun bleached Casablanca poster, but it’s just a embellishment. The Rialto does show other films on an increasingly rare single screen.
Fading European architecture admired, I set off to get deliberately lost in the vast Ancienne Médina.
In fact, I don’t have to get deliberately lost as the labyrinth just makes it happen.
Even in the throng, people are polite. On eye contact, many smile. The vendor above assures me he has the ‘meilleurs produits’ (best produce). Another offers congratulations for having ventured so far from the more Westernized city centre.
Eventually, I have to use the hazy sun to uncertainly extricate myself from the Médina. I pause to watch people checking the news. One of those alleged to have been involved in the Paris attacks is of Moroccan descent. Terror suspects have recently been arrested here and, in this century, there have been occasional terrorist incidents.
Western countries have travel warnings for Morocco, although thousands of Westerners safely visit. Holland America, which doubtless gets advice from the U.S. government, would soon cease port calls if there were major concerns.
I’ve had a really good day and felt as safe as I’d feel in … Paris or New York or London.