The Phoenicians pioneered the color purple as a royal color, with Roman royalty being the most ready customers, having exclusive access to the uncommon dye. Though the color purple came from their natural heartland, roughly current day Lebanon, the similar royal blue, or indigo, came from off the shore of what is now Morocco.
Indeed, Morocco has been a prized possession for millennia. First Phoenicians, then Romans, barbarians (called Berbers by the Romans), Mauritanians, Arabs, Ottomen, Portuguese, Spaniards and French, roughly in that order, all tried their hand at controlling the country at the edge of the world. Of course, sometimes also in reverse, during the short reign of the Umayyad Caliphate, Morocco was the springboard for the conquest of the Iberian peninsula, resulting in what was the fifth largest contiguous empire ever, before the Umayyads were chased into what is now Spain.
Though Niamh coined the term militant tourism for my style of travel, I'm much more organized as well as picky as a decade, or two, ago. The interwebs also allow you to, facilitating you researching your destination in any depth you like.
Though I've been recharging my batteries for the last month in Holland, Niamh is fresh out of the challenge that is Sierra Leone, so I wanted to find a reasonable place to stay for our first few nights in Casablanca, our point of arrival.
Surprisingly, though a city like Marrakech has perhaps 100 or so budget hotels bookable online, Casablanca only barely has a handful. And many get the most horrendous reviews, specifically on the quality of staff. I managed to find the two of us a reasonable place (I hope!), but as I'm arriving a few days earlier, getting myself hooked up with a reasonable place without paying too much was tricky.
Due to fog, my arrival was delayed by almost five hours. We had to make a stopover in Marrakech, from where we left hours later. By the time I walked into the arrivals hall at the Casablanca airport, it was nearly 430 in the morning. However, by that time, my arranged pickup was nowhere to be seen and I had to call them in again.
I came prepared enough, with iPad, book and Wired. And I had a whole row of seats to myself. But not for long. Pulling out my iPad, three kids quickly crowded around me, their eyes glued to the screen.
And I wasn't able to get rid of them for the duration of the journey.
Annoying as that occasionally was, the kids constantly asking for my attention, they were also exemplary for the 'failing' (that's sarcasm) of Dutch multiculturalism.
All three kids were born of Moroccan parents. Their parents spoke Arabic with each other, though all kids used Dutch with each other. In fact, this being in-between St. Nicholas and Christmas, their two hottest topics were these very holidays, several times them breaking out in very Dutch holiday songs.
A third important topic was where it was I lived. I explained I currently live in Africa. "Mom, mom", in dutch, "he lives in Africa!" then to me "can you teach me some African?" the oldest of the three, a boy, had been in Morocco before, though he was born in Holland. "You know, in Morocco, they constantly use their horns when they are driving! Even when there is no one around or nothing is happening. Toot toot. It's weird. I don't understand it."
the girl, a headstrong and talkative little puppet, had to tell us that last year she came in first with regional gymnastics competitions and that she's really good. Whenever she couldn't hear or understand something, she politely said so. "excuse me?" (wablief?)
"What is that you're saying?" one of the boys asked the girl. "it's when you don't understand something!" and to clarify even further, "I live in Maastricht." which is in the south of the Netherlands, where people tend to speak a tad more politely.
All in all, these three overly hyper kids, I'm sure their parents where happy as it was, this guy practically taking care of their offspring for the duration of the journey, made very clear that what is typical for the multicultural society that is the Netherlands. Sure, first generation foreigners will have trouble adjusting, while second generation foreigners will feel stuck in the middle (these kids will somehow have to match their parents and their grandparents worldview with what they grow up with outside of the home), but one generation onwards, these children their offspring will, for all intents and purposes be as Dutch as the next, only perhaps a name and their looks setting them somewhat apart.
Though I doubt even the former. I suspect that, as integration moves forward, foreign families will more and more look for giving their children names that might be indigenous to their culture, but also to their host culture. Case in point, one of the three kids was called Adam, the girl was called Sarah.