Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 2: Casablanca

Today was very exciting! Even though I went to sleep early last night, I still woke up feeling exhausted this morning, but I couldn't waste such a beautiful day!

A little boy I met who let me ride his scooter:

I took so many pictures today, filling up almost 2 memory cards. The sights in Casablanca are more gorgeous than I could have ever imagined. I took a mini-tour around the city to see some of the well-known sights. I saw the King Hassan II Mosque, Notre Dame de Lourdes, and the Mahkama du Pacha! I was walking down the street and overheard a man telling his children that the King Hassan II Mosque was the largest mosque in Casablanca. It looks like it could hold more people than our football stadium! At first I was surprised at its size, but then I realized that its size is necessary. Since Morocco is the the fourth most populous Arab country, Islam is one of the main religions. Sometimes, I forget how diverse the world is, because I do not know many people who practice the Islam faith back at home. Now I am surrounded by thousands of Muslims and my perspective is broadening. Although the Islam religion has the largest following, I heard that the Jewish community still exists in Morocco. Alas, they are diminishing in population. I guess a mix of religions just isn't too prevalent in some countries.

Here are some shots of the King Hassan II Mosque. The 2nd picture is of the inside.

I also went on a tour of an university in Morocco. If I lived in Morocco, I probably would have attended this college. Coming here makes me wish I had considered going to colleges overseas. The University Hassan II is extremely beautiful, but because I am biased Carolina is prettier. The University Hassan II is one of the top universities here in Morocco where educational standards are steadily improving. The people on campus are very proud and excited about how Morocco's literacy rates are drastically improving. A statistic that I was informed of during the tour was that literacy has improved by 30% between 1994 and 2007.

University Hassan II

I think my favorite sight of the day was the Notre Dame de Lourdes. The stained glass windows took my breath away. The sun filtering through them lit up the room with rainbow spectrum of colors.

The previous picture is an outside view of Notre Dame de Lourdes. It is huge. I thought this was a very ancient building, but the brochure I picked up said that it was constructed in 1956. Contrasting to the King Hassan II Mosque, this is a catholic church. At first, I was surprised to find this church in a predominantly Muslim city, but there are approximately 20,000 Catholics living in the country. This religious denomination has long been accepted in Morocco for long time. The Notre Dame de Lourdes Church is evidence of Roman Catholic presence in Casablanca.

Tomorrow, I head out to Cairo!