Monday November 10, 2008 | 04:58:41 pm
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – As I often do whenever my layover allows, here is another installment of “Airport Thoughts", where I serve up a few closing opines on a recently completed trip. This time, I come from JFK airport after spending six days in Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, for the King Hassan II Trophy, won by Ernie Els Sunday.
I’ve never been on a trip quite like Morocco.
- First of all, I must say I am always happy to return to America after spending time abroad. That said, I just had a rude awakening here in the JFK lounge: my coffee is terrible. Compared to the cocoa deliciousness I’ve been sipping the past week in hotels, restaurants and even the tournament media tent, this is weak and tastes like gutter water. For being a nation of bountiful resources, America’s standards for what makes an acceptable brew is sorely underachieving.
- Earlier this week, I wrote a little bit about Royal Dar es Salam’s Red Course. It’s the best 18 of 45 holes at the Golf Club, and it’s quite good. I likened it to the Dunes Club in Myrtle Beach for it’s RTJ Sr. design and terrain that resembles the lowcountry a little. However, I just discovered the Red Course asks 45 Euros to walk 18 holes.
That’s a steal for a course that I think could ask $150 in the peak season easily in Myrtle Beach. That said, the Dunes Club’s bent grass greens are far superior.
- At the golf tournament this week, spectator dress was something to watch in itself. Fans wore everything from women wearing traditional Moroccan dresses that covered them head to toe, to younger women wearing healed boots, big sun glasses, designer jeans and carrying huge Dolce & Gabana purses. The guys were in pinstriped suits or in flashy shirts you might wear to a David Guetta concert in Ibiza. I’ve never seen so many designer jeans at a golf
event. I was wearing the usual polo & khakis and was definitely in the minority doing so.
- During a tour of Rabat’s historic Kasbah district, which feels kind of like the narrow, blue and white-walled streets of Mykonos, our tour guide asked us if we had tried any “Moroccan whiskey” yet. Morocco makes whiskey?
He replied, “Moroccan whiskey is ‘mint tea’.”
It’s also fantastic. They brew a delicious tea and they drink it everywhere. They’re also hooked on Coca-Cola. At a formal gala dinner earlier in the week, waiters were walking around topping off everyone’s wine glasses with Coke.
- The Caribbean has stray island dogs everywhere. In Rabat, there are stray cats (and kittens). They wander around tourist districts, open markets and restaurants. We were eating outside our last night there, and a black one leaped out of the bushes and breezed right by our host’s head, startling her dearly.
- I always thought the craziest driving I’ve ever seen is in Rome. Rabat however, has taken it’s place. We passed our share of collisions during our stay there and narrowly dodged a few of our own (and I’m still speechless after seeing several motorcycles that squeeze both mom, dad and a seat belt and helmet-less infant baby in between them. Are there no lawyers in Morocco?). We went out with a young woman our last night there who ran red lights and stop signs, would go in reverse down roads, pass other cars by weaving in between oncoming traffic and perform enough other stunts to make one of the passengers cry in fear. My heart beat hasn’t raced that fast since I had my first slow dance in 6th grade.
I should also mention the car was a tiny old thing from the 1970s and the driver passed on her seat belt. “I know my car, I know the roads, and I know my fellow Moroccan drivers” she assured us. It sounded a lot like the Italian cabbies who defended their insane driving by saying “The gods watch over us in the Eternal city.”
There is plenty more to say on golf and Morocco. Stay tuned next week to Dave Berner’s This Week Podcast on TravelGolf.com as I’ll talk Morocco golf with him. And check back in for articles and photos from the trip here at WorldGolf.com.