Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hassan II Mosque - Dangerous Encounter

I broke down crying in Casablanca, when I learned that he would rather suffer alone than hold my hand and go through life's ups and downs together.  I cried because it pained me to know he was suffering yet he still failed to see how our relationship really didn't have to end in breakup, ever, if we stopped running away from difficulties in our separate ways.  Why can't he have more faith in himself, more faith in me, in us?
Casablanca started pouring rain as I started crying.  I went to work with my blood-shot eyes, and walked around dirty streets to supervise interviews in the freezing rain.  I wasn't quite myself today, and left the hotel without even a jacket or a scarf in the winter weather - it was about 12 degrees today.  My head was pounding, my body shivering, my heart aching.

After work, I went to the Hassan II Mosque at night - the second largest mosque in the world after the one in Mecca.  I have always been fascinated by mosques and was hoping I could somehow find peace there - even though I was not allowed in as a non-Muslim after special hours today.

I was not quite myself when a strange Moroccan man signaled me to follow him - which I did.  He then signaled me to follow him into this restricted area, where he opened a large door and the underground tunnel/ room was in complete darkness.  I cannot recall whether it was curiosity or self-abandonment that led me to follow that man into the completely dark underground passage.  Afterall, I no longer had anyone to worry about my safety in Morocco.  I used to be extra cautious during my business trips not for myself, but for Kevin who might worry sick about me.  I no longer had any reason to take good care of myself, so despite feeling a bit scared, I risked my safety.

After I entered that underground passage which led to a big space, the man went to turn on the lights. 

When I saw what a huge underground room I was in, I started to realize that I could be in great danger being with a complete stranger in the world's 2nd largest mosque's underground bathing area.  I actually was quite scared, and I knew if he wanted to harm me, he could easily do that without anyone being able to hear me scream.  But I was already there, so it was too late to turn back.  He asked me to take pictures, then led me to another room...

I followed him and then I saw the actual Hammam - Moroccan bath area.  Muslims have to scrub their bodies clean before entering the mosque to pray.  The area below was their bathing area, like a sauna house:

I had no idea where I was at the time, so I was overjoyed to see this.

Luckily, this turned out to be some tourist scam.  He asked me for money on the way out, so I gave him some and left.

I swear to God I'd never put myself in any dangerous situations like this one again.  No picture-taking opportunity is worth the danger.


  1. Hey, what do you mean by "I no longer had anyone to worry about my safety in Morocco"??! I always worry about you, no matter where you are, even in Hong Kong. Things don't change even though we don't meet up as often as we used to. TAKE GOOD CARE AND BE SAFE!!

  2. Everyone seems to think I'm independent and tough and nothing will happen to me. I guess I do get a reputation for being a brave one...