Bahira Sidi Burghaba

There's a small lake, near Qenitra, a town two hours North of Casablanca by train. It used to be a US military base back in the day, but closed in the 70s. Just outside is a wildlife refuge, where you can see a small part of the extraordinary diversity of the Europe-Africa Flyway. Me, Stacy, and her brother Kevin took a trip up there to see some of the birds, and we were richly awarded- not only with the Avian life but Insecta and beautiful plants as well. There were giant spiders and remains of exoskeletons; flocks of flamingos and isolated grebes; and even a tree losing all it's bark and leaves. There is a wondrous silence there, broken only by the myriad calls of birds, most of whom I didn't recognize, and by the Friday Call to Prayer, drifting over the water. Not an ordinary call to prayer, such as you hear every day, five times a day, but the special one for Friday, a melodious chanting simultaneously filling the cultural role of bells and choral hymns, sheltering us as we left the sanctuary.

A small museum is attached to the sanctuary as well, which would be perfect for elementary classes to visit. Though their visiting hours had not begun for the day, they were quite gracious to take us around the facility and give us a private guided tour.

After the US military left, the town was still impacted by the presence. It is the only place in the country that contains an authentic American restaurant, besides the big modern chains, one El Dorado. You can get a big hamburger and fries, just like in the US, and I'm told the milkshake even comes close to the real thing, and not the watered down chocolate milk you usually get here. The decor is decidedly Western, and feels...just like an American restaurant. At least, back in the 70's.


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