Dave gets one up on the pick pockets.
05.04.2007 - 05.04.2007 20 °C
Because of the strikes I had to catch the train from another station which involved a switch to get out to the airport so that I could pick up Karolina who was visiting me for six days over Easter. Due to the "cell phone in the guiness" night, I had devised a simple but full proof plan. I would meet her at the airport and then we would go to our pre booked hotel in Casa.
At the change station I walked through the under pass and caught the eye of a young Moroccan guy who I asked for directions. After he got me on the right platform we got chatting. His name was Siam and he was a student who lived locally. We talked about surfing and my trip. He asked what hotel I was staying at in town which I thought was a little strange so I made one up. He then did the usual sale of hash to which he brushed off as a way of life in Morocco when I refused. Soon enough the train arrived and conveniently he was going in the same direction as me.
He left me with his bag and whipped outside and came back with a Moroccan girl dressed in trendy European styled clothing, another clash of ideals I have noticed here. He sat there and babbled away in Arabic to this girl which didn't worry me as it meant I didn't have to make an effort coming up with conversation in easy English. All of a sudden at the next stop “old matey” jumps up and says “Dave, we have to get off here!” I protest a bit but he says that there was an announcement and that there was a problem with the train because of the strike, coming from the UK transport system. This was more than feasible, so I blindly follow until he starts leading me outside the station saying that he wants to get a coffee. I tell him that I have to get to the airport now! To which his reply is to throw his bag at me and start kicking it going on about fighting Marrakech and funnily enough forgetting all of his English. Then he starts yelling "go get the train then see if I care!"
"Bro you need to lay of the hash" was my only reply and I was quite relieved to lose this nut case and get out to the airport, where Karolina would now be waiting for me.
It took a few moments to cross the road as I had to dodge the stream of blue and red taxis racing around at break neck speed. As I step up on the curve on the other side I felt to where my wallet should be..... After a quick pat down it was nowhere to be found.
"Bastard!!!" I screamed across a busy car park full of locals going about their day in an unknown part of Casablanca. As I spun around on the spot I saw Siam’s blue shirt about 100m away across the square. Without even thinking I run out in front of the traffic which came to a screeching halt, horns blazing and Arabic being screamed out the windows. Now, without a word of a lie I covered that 100m in 10 seconds flat still wearing my Jandals (For the international community, flip flops, thongs or sandals). Siam still hadn't seen me coming as I tackle him into the middle of the road in front of another screeching taxi. This was the final straw and man I went to town on him until I was dragged off by the taxi driver that fortunately spoke excellent English and asked what was going on.
"He stole my wallet" I yelled going through his pockets..... Nothing, I panicked …oh no I have beaten a guy up for no reason. Quite a big crowd had gathered by this stage and I was starting to fear for my life, then to my amazement they turned on him and hello there was my wallet down his pants. (Yeah I did think about letting keep the wallet)
"Thank You, Merci, Shurkan" I managed to get out as I started to return to the Train Station. As I crossed the car park there was a bloke leaning on a taxi, I asked him to take me to the airport, as Karolina didn’t know where the hotel was and I didn't have a phone. He said no, I tried offering him double to which he still said no and finally I told him that guy over there just tried to pick pocket me pointing to the still rather large group of guys laying into Siam.
While sitting on the platform waiting for the airport train that ran hourly, two big Moroccan guys strolled over the tracks neglecting to use the underpasses and came right up to me. Then, the one I recognized as the taxi driver, told me that I have to come with them to the police station to sign some paper work, it turns out he was an under cover cop.
"Hang on there big fella lets see some ID please" I’m not going down twice in one day. He pulls out a pair of hand cuffs "I can buy those in the market then go round and rob tourists too champ!" I say rather cynically. Finally he digs out an ID out of his wallet and I get dragged out of the train station for the second time in a day.......... Yes it did occur to me later that I had and still have no idea what a proper Moroccan ID should look like.
As I walk through the door to the station I am confronted by Siam screaming his innocence. He even has the nerve to tell me, in his selective English, that if I get him off we can go for coffee and everything will be right.
First of all, I was a little put off by being in the same room as this guy, but after five minutes the guards gave me the thumbs up for my handy work.
We had to wait for the Captain dude to turn up so I used my spare time entertainingly.
"So Siam, you know what is going to happen to you in jail mate? two years just for trying to steal a wallet, man it sucks to be you"
"Siam you better give me double the money you stole or I will tell them you're gay mate, man the death penalty sucks dude."
“Sergeant have you searched him, …. he offered me hash"
Five minutes later, a big bloke wrapped in paper appears.
"Dude, you are having a bad day"
After an eternity the Captain turns up, Siam continued his usual routine of wailing and trying to plead his innocence. All of a sudden “smack, smack, slap,” I look up and the Captain in beating the living day lights out of him using his diary and what to you know it doesn’t leave a mark. So, the five minutes that I was told this would take on the platform, has now taken about 40 minutes and now they want to take me to the main station in town.
Despite my protest, Siam, the translator and myself where put in the back of a van and driven down to the main police station. No problem I thought, I will be able to email Karolina from there and sort this mess out. It was during this trip that I learned that the translator was not a police officer but just a local guy who used to drive taxis and had learned English while doing so; he was there off his own back helping me out. During our conversation he brought up a reoccurring theme "Why did you follow him? You can't trust anyone, this is Africa man."
When we arrived at the main station I am confronted by a 5m by 8m concrete room with white peeling walls and two desks with typewriters sitting on them and a few chairs.
I explain what had happened for the 6th time and it was recorded down on the type writer using carbon paper to make it triplicate.
The Translator went to the shop and bought me a bottle of water out of his own pocket and then another guy turned up and acted as a witness. This guy I recognized from the crowd of guys that had swarmed around and he had had to make his own way down to the station just to give a statement on my behalf.
Every time someone new walked through the station Siam would scream his innocence, to which the answer was a lot of yelling in Arabic and then a couple of clips around the head. However I did notice that afterwards they would show him compassion by giving him cigarettes if he asked for them.
Finally I signed a police report totally in Arabic, (it did cross my mind that this was an elaborate scam for me pleading guilty to every unsolved crime in Morocco this century). I jumped in the front seat of the police car beside the Captain and automatically put on my seat belt. He looked at me quizzically and then said through the translator "you are in a police car no one is going to pull you over".
"That’s not the point.........." I trailed out smiling and mumbled something about going to jail in New Zealand.
Three hours later I pull into the airport train station. Even though I just want to run around and try to find Karolina I force myself to help a lady with her bags off the train just to prove that there is a sense of civility in this country. As the doors open I hear the sweetest sound ever, my name called out in a Swedish accent. As luck would have it Karolina had spotted my day bag through the window as the train pulled into the station. She was just about to go into the city and find a hotel, as it was, it took us nearly two hours to get back into the city.... cursed strikes.