The African sun divides Casablanca. Even the mosque – towering four times the height of the urban scale – cannot escape shadow infringing on light. Leaving LA for New York to become An Architect, never did I expect to walk the streets below me. I look down on them from the twenty-eighth floor of the Kenzi Tower Hotel. Mirrored ceilings, brown leather and red velvet – I suffer the interior design for the wine and the view.
From above, the city seems detachedly romantic, peaceful even: the Paris of Africa. The reality below is a cacophony of dusty blares and aggressive attitudes, a daunting fierceness reflected by the hot sun.
Behind me, an American voice reminisces of moving here decades ago. “We were given a penthouse. And opposite us in the next tower, we could watch the people throwing garbage off the 34th floor. This beautiful piece of architecture surrounded by a layer of trash on the ground. But we were being paid well to be there…” She speaks of editorial work, newspaper offices, and chasing stories.
Turning around, I encounter a pair of piercing eyes set into a weathered face. She notices my gaze and shifts her own away from the window to me. I’m cooly appraised and immediately dismissed, too young and naive for all that she’s lived. Will I sit in her shoes some day?
I stare back out to Casablanca and note the contrast between light and shadow, reduced. The city seems to have been enveloped in neutral grey with a tinge of horizon blue that lifts upwards to a soft pink. Later when I look back, The Journalist had quietly left. I too bid Casablanca bonne nuit and I settle the bill to descend down into the ferociously beautiful chaos below.