|Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre in Rick’s Cafe in the movie
When setting a novel or a TV show or a film in a particular city, writers sometime create an exact location for events. That location then takes on a life of its own and becomes famous. Therefore, when visiting that city, it’s very natural to want to visit that location. Huge numbers of visitors to London try to visit 221B Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes. Another example is the Cheers pub, location of the long running TV series of that name. When I was in Boston, I unsuccessfully attempted to visit it. It’s so easy to forget that these locations exist only in the imagination of a successful writer.
|Churchill and Roosevelt at Casablanca conference
Everything about the ship was aggressively French, from the permanent smell of Gaulois cigarettes, to French accordian music everywhere, to the fact that nobody among crew or passengers would admit to knowing a single word of English. As the ship made its stately progress into the port of Casablanca, I saw a fine French city with wide straight boulevards and big buildings which would not have been out of place in Paris. I wanted to see Morocco and a North African Arab community, but that was not what I found. The place was just as French as the ship on which I was a passenger. After the French occupied Casablanca in 1907, they simply created a French city. Morocco regained its independence in 1956 but, six years later at the time of my visit, Casablanca was still irredeemably French. I asked to see Rick’s Café, but they denied it existed. They tell me that Casablanca looks very different now. In the 1990s, King Hassan II of Morocco built a huge mosque and named it after himself.
|Morocco Casablanca Hassan II Mosque
UPDATE: When writing these notes, I did not know that a new place opened in Casablanca in 2006. It's name? Rick's Cafe! Try visiting and let us know what you think.
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on October 14, 2008.