Month: April 2009

Bachna Ae Hasseno

Being trapped in an airplane from Casablanca to Manila gave me the opportunity to watch movies shown free in the airline.

As I zapped through the remote control, I discovered that there were vast choices of movies to choose from.  Qatar Ailines featured a wide spectrum of movies to watch while the airplane is flying.  There were movies from Oriental countries, European countries, South American countries and Middle East ones.  There were even 2 Pinoy movies to choose from.  There was the KC Concepcion and Richard Gutierrez flick and the Tony Gonzaga and Vhong Navarro movie to watch.

Since I had long hours to waste I settled to watch marathon Oscar-nominated movies and later decided to go for a Bollywood flick.  I heard Bollywood movies are usually more than 2 hours to finish.  The first full length Bollywood movie I watched was entitled Bachna Ae Hasseno.  The story was fun and lighthearted.  A true Bollywood genre because the characters would suddenly burst into a song with matching outlandish dance number coupled with spectacular production numbers.  The film is about a Casanova heartbreaker who goes from one love affair to another, only to run into true love.

The film did not disappoint me in terms of the style Bollywood films are known for.  It featured gorgeous locations, good looking characters, bouncy musical numbers and breathless romance.  What is so good about the movie is its light mainstream entertainment which did not require the viewer to think.

The movie was something new and was a refreshing experience considering that I am in the middle of a notorious long travel.  Too bad I was stuck on my seat and there was not enough space to dance Bollywood style.

Wala lang.  Gusto ko lang isulat ang kakaibang karanasang ito.


Travel Young

I am glad to have come to Morocco while I’m relatively young and healthy because going around that country is no big joke.  It requires good physical stamina.

The flight takes at least 19 hours to travel from Manila to Casablanca.  It takes 4 hours via train ride to travel from Casablanca to Marrakech.  It takes 6 hours back and forth to traverse from Marrakech to Essaouira crowded inside a grand taxi with 5 other passengers.  It takes at least 2 days to tour around the outskirts of Marrakech to visit the Berber towns and the magnificent provinces of Merzouga, Dudades and Ouarzazate to finally get to Sahara.  It takes a 30-minute camel ride to get into the edge of the Saharan dessert from Merzouga.  It takes a 7-hour train ride from Marrakech to Fes.  It takes 4 hours to commute via train ride from Fes to Casablanca.  It takes another 19 hours air travel from Casablanca to be back to Manila.

With all these rides and travels, I have not even counted the yards, meters and kilometers of traversing the streets, valleys, gorges and narrow alleys of Morocco (especially the old medinas) that me and my friends have been to.

I am not complaining because along all these travels comes the unforgettable and spectacular experiences I had in this marvelous north western part of Africa.  While travelling and moving around the country, I simply fed my senses and work my glutes.

I am so thankful that I travelled early unlike other people who put off travel until retirement.  I may not have saved a lot and not yet financially secured but I don’t want to consign the most active years of my life to drudgery.  I don’t want to sacrifice today’s freedom for a future that will always remain uncertain, no matter how I carefully plan for it. 

I’m not saying that everyone sitting in an office or busy with ther respective jobs should drop everything and take off for north Africa.  I’m saying that if you want to see the world, plan for it and do it as soon as possible.  The experience will give you the spunk, courage and inspiration you need to survive being a full-grown human being.

Tara na! Gala na tayo!

Silly Similarities

Via airplane, Philippines to Morocco is a 19-hour journey.  The time zone difference between Pinas and Morocco is 8 hours.  Pinas is hot, Morocco is cold.  Majority of Pinoys are Christian while Moroccans are Islam.  It’s basically worlds apart.  But after my 2 weeks vacation, I realized that there are similarities between the two countries…

  • Inhabitants do not have the concept of using the zebra/pedestrian lane.  Moroccans like Pinoys would cross the street wherever they want unmindful of the imminent danger of a fast approaching vehicle.
  • Motorists in both country think that traffic laws are mere suggestions.  Both citizens ignore the significance of the yellow traffic light.  Crossing the road in both countries are the surest way to heaven.
  • People can assume that underpass walkways have no purpose other than its aesthetic presence.  No one dares to go by the underpass due to the possibility of being mugged and get out from it black and blue.
  • Residential streets are turned into big sports venue.  In Pinas, streets are turned into bantam basketball courts while in Morocco streets are turned into mini soccer fields.
  • There are lots of bootleg peddlers on the streets offering tourists to buy fake (made in China) watches and sunnies.
  • Dingy street corners of urbanite cities stink in the morning as caused by the trace of urine leaked by a drunken man the previous night.
  • Both countries have internet cafes that don’t serve coffee.

Ang listahang ito din ang mga hindi ko na-miss sa Pinas.

Mon, Amy & Efren

When I was in Macau last December with Karen and Denton, we would address the locals as ‘my friend’.  “My friend, where is this?”  “My friend, what is that?”  “My friend, how is this?”  My friend, why is that?”

‘Efren’ sounding so similar to ‘my friend’, my avant-garde friend Karen after a considerable extraordinary intellectualization concluded that the most common name in Macau is Efren.  According to her you can call every local as Efren.

In Morocco, I kept hearing ‘Mon Ami’ when a local or tourist would call or address a total stranger.  When a store attendant would call me Mon Ami I would not respond for I don’t know what it connotes.  But my French-speaking friend Charlie would tell me that the store attendant was actually calling me.

Similar to Karen, after stupendous intellectualization, I came to a conclusion that the most common and popular name in Morocco is not Abdul or Mohammed but Mon and Amy.

After my stick-figured thighs were showing signs of muscular definition from all the walking along all the Mohammed V streets and old medinas of Marrakech, Casablanca, Essaouira and Fes, I learned that Mon Ami are the French words meaning ‘my friend’.

Magandang hapon sa lahat ng Efren sa Macau at sa lahat ng Mon at Amy sa Morocco.

John Travolta Country

When I arrived  in Casablanca the first thing I noticed is that almost all men were wearing dark colored jackets.  Jackets in Morocco is a necessity to cover ones body from the notorious cold weather.  Coming from an awful needle stinging summer in Manila, I felt so cold that tiny blood vessels in my nostrils broke I had to pick blood stained boogers out of my nose.

Men in Casablanca would commonly wear dark leather jackets.  I don’t know if the leather type is so “in” in such a country that almost all young ones prefer to wear it.  They would pair the leather jacket with tight fitting dark denim jeans.  Thanks to their innate genes for the superb butt shapes they possess.  Denim jeans seem to fit them perfectly.

Another noticeable common appearance among Moroccan men is their hair.  They tend to put a lot of gel on their thick wavy hair.  I’m sure gel manufacturers in Morocco do not feel the worldwide financial crisis and their Sales Executives for sure are having a great time due to the high demand of their product.

Moroccan men usually sport the wet look brushed up hairstyle as if a salivating camel has been summoned to lick them before going out of their respective houses.

Moroccan men being so consistent with this fashion statement, my friends Charlie and Joesel agreed that these men sport the John-Travolta-Grease-Era look.  We declared then that Morocco is one big John Travolta country.  For a brief moment, I thought I would see a monument of Danny Zuko (the name of John Travolta’s character in Grease).

After such a keen observation and notes of amused beliigerence about Moroccan men’s fashion taste, I couldn’t stop wondering whether if we would one day bump into Olivia Newton John singing ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ while having 2 weeks of self indulgent holiday in Morocco.

Ang galing. Parang pelikula and itsura!

I Love Berber

Berbers are considered the first and oldest inhabitants of Morocco long before the Arabs and French came.  They are considered the backward and less-developed people of the country in terms of adopting to the new technology and modern ways of living.  The word “barbarian” was actually based from this large ethnic community.

While here in Morocco, spending a magnificent 2-week holiday, people seem amazed with my rare look.  People of Morocco has mistaken me to be a Japanese, a Chinese, a Korean, a Malaysian, a Mexican, an American, and even a Guatemalan.  No Moroccan inhabitant guessed right where I came from.  And when I told them that I came from the beautiful tropical country of the Philippines, they would give me a blank reaction thinking if there actually exists a country by such name.

After numerous times of telling the local people where I came from and tired of explaining what and where Philippines is, I settled on telling everyone that I am a Berber.  Upon hearing this, they would usually give me a big smile or a warm hug and they seem to look proud of my willingness to be part of their system.

As an intial impression, people of Morocco no doubt looks and sounds rough and unrefined but if you will get to know and understand them better, they are actually caring and welcoming.  They are like their bread, hard and crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy in the inside.

People of Morocco for me has been an irony of robust and unrefined grace mixed with warm hospitality.  Their dealings with people, tourists or non-tourists, is a kaleidoscope of undescribable roughness which actually adds to the charm and color of the nation.

Di pwede ang mahina ang loob dito.  Basta Berber ako dito.  Grrrr!

Moroccan Adventure Checklist

Passport, check.  Cash and plastic money, check.  Luggage, check.  Travel insurance, check.  Hotel accommodations, check.  Airline e-ticket, check.  Clothes, sandals & undergarments, check.  Toiletries, check.  Camera, iPod, cellphone and chargers, check.  Cellphone international roaming application, check.  Shades, Yosi and lighter, check.  Approval for a 2-week vacation leave, check.  A haircut good for 2 weeks before considered too long check.  Endorse to Nengkoy to water the plants in my veranda while I’m away, check.  A piece of brain and a lot of common sense, check.  Delicious body, check.

Tomorrow is the start of my 2-week north African adventure.  I can’t wait to get loco in Morocco…