Casablanca is not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. As I sit in my living room in Casablanca, I can’t help but reflect on the journey that led me here. A journey that started with a difficult decision and which with every passing day, continues to hold so much promise for the future.
This period really makes the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman relatable and personal. The book explores the different ways in which our minds process information and make decisions, and highlights the challenges that can arise when we are faced with complex or ambiguous situations. Throughout the book, Kahneman emphasizes the importance of being aware of our cognitive biases and actively working to overcome them, which can help us make better decisions even in the face of uncertainty or discomfort.
A message from the book for me is that painful decisions require courage and the willingness to face uncomfortable situations, but they can also lead to growth and opportunities. By making tough choices, we can learn from our mistakes, gain valuable experience, and move forward with a clearer understanding of our priorities and goals. Ultimately, embracing difficult decisions can lead to positive changes and help us achieve our desired outcomes.
I remember the arrival, I was looking out of the window, keeping up with the blurs of motion vanishing into time as the plane pulled into the runway. I couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement and anxiety at the same time. My wife had just been offered an amazing job opportunity in Casablanca, which meant we had to relocate. Having lived in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria all my life, I had no idea what to expect from a city like Casablanca.
I couldn't help but feel a mix of emotions as we landed at the Mohammed V International Airport. On one hand, I was weary of the uncertainties, but on the other hand, I couldn't but appreciate the beautifully designed airport facilities.
The facility stands tall and proud, with a welcoming ambiance that promises you an unforgettable experience, even for returning guests. As you enter the airport, you are immediately struck by the grandeur of the building. The beautifully crafted high ceilings, the complimentary blend of horizontality and verticality, the delicate combination of sleek lines of the contemporary style with traditional Moroccan architecture. The intentional application of soft and natural lighting working in a symbiotic blend to create an atmosphere of elegance and sophistication.
The airport is spacious and well-organized, with clear signage and information boards guiding visitors to their respective terminals. The terminal buildings look well-maintained from my angle, and the floors are immaculately polished, reflecting the ambient light from above.
I chose not to look at the Tax-free retail outlets and what they had on sales, because the fear of airport shopping is the beginning of wisdom. My very fresh experience at the Lagos airport only reinforced this disposition. Can you imagine buying a simple traveler's multi-function adapter for $25?
But let us not lie (to be sincere), the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries that filled the air within this arrival halls, and the colorful displays of merchandise will make you salivate and lust as it would certainly enter your eyes (create a tempestuous craving).
One of the most striking features of the airport is the huge halls, the micro-efficiency and the direct integration of the airport with the rail line. With its impressive glass facade that floods the area with natural light. The hall is filled with beautiful art installations, sculptures, and fountains on the exterior that add to the overall ambiance of the airport.
If only the same could be said of the airline, it would have been a more complete and enjoyable travel experience for the country’s visitors.
However, the airport sounded too quiet for an international airport, from people talking in hushed tones, to the open-plan service points that were marked with COVIID-19 compliance graphics. The orderliness even in the chaos, can never be Lagos. From family members excited to see their loved ones, to parents yelling at their children to keep them in check. Let’s not forget the inaudible broadcasts and announcements over faulty public address systems, the Muritala Muhammed airport uniquely stands out. But the Mohammed V airport was different. It was serene, almost peaceful and uncharacteristic of an international airport.
I remember thinking to myself “shey we have not enter one-chance like this” (hope we haven't made a wrong decision). It was easy to assume that because of the calmness, the city probably receives a few visitors.
“Okay o, let’s sha see how this goes” (let's see how this experience unfolds)
I remember the drama at baggage claim. Our luggage hadn't arrived as we got to the conveyor earlier than stipulated. The information signage also indicated vividly, a 15 minute arrival time for the luggage, but as a Naija boy, I had to confirm from the baggage guys if we were in the right place.
Let us not come and see problem o. (May we not be tested).
You know, the signage could be wrong or even faulty, and the handful of people waiting around for their own luggage too could have all been misled. You can never tell.
As we made our way from the arrivals, I couldn't help but think about the vast differences between Casablanca and Lagos.
Lagos is a fast-paced, high-vibing city, where people moved with purpose and a sense of urgency, while Casablanca is different, more relaxed, with a slower pace of life and a totally different climate. The scorching sun that greeted us as we stepped out of the facility was unbearable. See, Kano sun is learning work, and the smell, an overwhelming combination of spices and perfumes mixed with the scent of the ocean would leave you enchanted.
As soon as we arrived, the culture shock hit me hard. Everything was different - the language, the food, the people, the small capacity motorcycles, the pace of life - it was quite an experience.
Ordering food was a mess. Everything looked like some form of pizza, and I couldn't even figure out how to order anything without accidentally ordering something I didn't want. But my wife couldn’t have been more intrigued. The long-throat in her wanted to check out and test everything.
“Look at this”, “see that, looks yummy”.
She seemed to fit right in. She spoke perfect French, which is the second language in Morocco, and had already made a few friends at her new job. Her workplace had set up a community integration routine to help us settle in.
The differences between our old and new lives were stark.
I missed the familiarity of home, the comforting feeling of knowing my way around. Everything was so different, from the way people dressed to the way they interacted with each other. It was like being in a different world. But despite my initial reservations, I found myself growing more and more intrigued by this new culture.
What strikes me the most is the hospitality of the people. Moroccans are known for their warm and welcoming nature, and it was evident from the moment we arrived. Though, based on what I had read before hand, I'd expected our neighbor would be quick to introduce themselves, offering us tea and pastries as a way of welcoming us to the neighborhood.
It turned out they aren’t any different from Lagosians in minding their business. Nevertheless, It was the heart-warming gestures from the everyday people, the estate security personnel, and the jovial light-speed tram drivers who always waved at my son at the tram stations, that left us feeling grateful.
Even though I struggled with the language barrier, I found that people were patient and understanding. They were always willing to help, whether it was giving us directions or helping us order food at a local restaurant. And as we continued to explore our new home, we discovered that there was so much similarities between here and home. The way of life may be different, but we share the same values.
The connection between Casablanca and Lagos transcends sharing same geographical boundary as a continent or merely being economic cities, into the essence of purpose that guides a set of people.
One of the things that helped me to adjust to my new life is trying new things. Though I make no effort to try different Moroccan foods or even attempt to learn a word in Arabic. I am learning to speak french as I have embraced the new environment, way of life and even winter as a part of my new life. This has helped me feel more connected to the culture and the people around me.
Another thing that helped me to feel more at home was meeting other English-speaking foreigners. The community integration program, set up by my wife’s work place to help us settle in was particularly productive as it helped me get familiar quickly with the immediate vicinity. Now, I have been able to explore the city on my own. I would take long walks through the different neighborhoods, observing the architecture and the daily life of the locals. It’s been a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the city and its people.
As each day passes in this new home, I feel excited for the promises ahead. There are still challenges to overcome, but I've learned to embrace the differences between my old life and my new one. It's a journey of self-discovery, and I'm grateful for the new perspective on the world that I'm gaining.
In future episodes, I will share my experiences and/or opinion of the transition, navigating remote work, the joys and challenges of raising a toddler in a new environment. I will also share how contemporary ideologies impact our daily lives, the journey of self-actualization and lot’s more.
Join me as we embark on this adventure together, and let's see what the future has in store.
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If you enjoyed reading about my experiences and insights on this topic, stay tuned for more in the series. In the next post, We will track a little back in time, at life before the move. Don't miss it. Be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter to be notified when the next post is published. Thank you for your interest, and we look forward to sharing more with you soon.