Highs and lows in Morocco from humbling hospitailty to death threats.
01.04.2007 - 04.04.2007 20 °C
Having caught the bus from Seville to Algeciras and then the Ferry to Tangier I walked down the gang plank two hours late but in high spirits only to be met by a customs officer who sent my newly acquired English mate Christian and I back onto the boat to get our entry visa. Not surprisingly, there were the four other English speakers that I had met on the crossing also waiting, not having understood the French, Spanish and Arabic instructions to get our stamps on board.
This was all a good laugh until the passengers heading back to Spain had all boarded and the doors were shut. After much confusion, being led around the boat about three times, we finally got our visa and were kicked out via the car entrance in the middle of the port and made to walk to the terminal.
From here a nice taxi driver sorted the six of us out with a ride to where we were going, this involved four in the back seat and the American student and I sharing the front seat. As we approached the police check point I turned to the driver and asked if this was okay, picturing my first night on the dark continent being in a prison cell. He simply smiled at me and said "Of course my friend this is Africa" then simply drove around the car in front which was being searched by the police, and drove straight through the check point without even a look of bother.
So, being locked out of my hostel, but sitting in a cafe drinking mint tea and chatting with the cafe owner, I learn that there is going to be transport strikes throughout the country, with no taxis or buses and only limited trains starting the next day. Having to meet Karolina in Casablanca I thought it best to get there right away.
I took a seat, escaping from the chaos of the crowded bus station, full of yelling people, revving engines and the smell of diesel fumes. I felt a cold damp feeling creep through my jeans. The seat was soaking wet with what I could only hope to be water. As luck would have it in this land of contrast, they actually had allocated seating, so I was promptly moved to my seat at the back of the bus. I sat next to an old man in his Caftan and two big old ladies in their traditional gab with green lines tattooed from their lower lip to their chin.
A few hours into the trip I woke up to be offered half of an orange that the lady beside me was eating, I accepted gratefully. Later on I came out of my doze and again she gave me half of her egg sandwich, which I tried to turn down but it turned out I didn’t have a choice in the matter. My new best friend then went on to offer me half of her loaf of bread which I managed to decline only for her to reply in sign language that I was much too thin in her eyes.
Casablanca, or Casa as it is commonly referred to, is the commercial city of Morocco. You can, in the space of minutes, be walking around the ancient Medina hassled by locals, to walking down pedestrian streets that could easily be in any major city around the world. I befriended a Canadian guy called Corey who was studying in France and spoke fluent French, a handy skill to have as French is Morocco’s second language. It had occurred to me that Corey was never keen to walk into the Medina at night and I couldn't work out why. The next morning we decided to go do a little shopping, within seconds of walking into the Medina a local guy came up to us and shook our hands (very standard stuff ) until he held me in an arm lock while he turned to shake Corey’s hand. Instinctively I broke free and kept on walking but this guy continued to follow as and kept on touching me. Corey calmly spoke French to him while I got more and more stern. Then all of a sudden he stood in front of me looking me in the eyes all the time reaching into his back pocket hissing through his teeth
"I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill you"
To which I replied in full Kiwi drawl
" Mate! you can piss off!"
After a few more unprintable expletives he went away yelling in French "I really need a cigarette"
Five minutes later while sitting at a cafe having a coffee another guy walks passed saying
"Hello how are you?"
"Good, how are you?" I replied
"F##K You, You go to hell" he yells in reply.
Corey and I giggle “nice people around here aren't they"
I just can't believe this place one minute people are so welcoming and then the next they make you want to get on the next plane home.