Thursday, 21 April 2011

sa ha ( enjoy)

        I had no idea what to expect next, witnessing demonstrations in the Capital of Rabat.  I saw several thousand people marching the streets. Stopping traffic as they protested higher food prices and massive unemployment, many young, mostly under 25 and smartly dressed, carried banners, and loudspeakers. They were generally peaceful demonstrations.

       But this day's crowd was different. They gathered to see what was happening, like they had witnessed the event before. Shoppers with their groceries, onlookers from the coffee shops, and street vendors stood watching. Reminding me of the many Thanksgiving Black Friday shoppers that are injured as they wait for the doors to open for the big sales, city buses went by with so many people inside them pressing against the windows, that common sense told the onlookers that something more was going to happen.
       A bus stopped for traffic as students grabbed onto anything they could to catch a ride before the bus took off again. The next bus came by, slowing for the traffic light when its windows, still in their large frames, popped from the bus, shattering glass in the streets, no longer able to stand the pressure of so many people inside pressed against them.
      Another bus stopped for a red light and was weighed down by so many students jumping onto it, that the driver put the bus in park, got out and ran to the back to deal with the illegal boarding of his bus. He was surrounded and outnumbered, alone.

      I've read about police in the US using tazor guns on children as young as six years old. (Is pepper spray next?) But this is Africa and anything is possible. The driver grabbed a boy about 15 years old by his shirt, lifting him up high off the ground. His shirt was tight around his neck. The boy struggled to get away. His baggy pants were hanging down when the driver leaned him over and gave him an old-fashioned spanking in front of the few hundred onlookers.
     The traffic light could have been green forever, but we were all stopped, laughing and applauding. Some even cheered the driver on. The other boys, not wanting to be part of this humiliation, surely would rather have been tazored and quickly run off than try hitching a free ride home from the football game.

  • The center of Casablanca is Mohammad V stadium. It has held over 120,000 for a concert.
  • Apparently my new hobby is visiting embassies.
  • I now have a Moroccan cell phone number, and expect phone books will start showing up beside my motorcycle. (while I am inside the embassies of course)
  • Still no visa: so a movie, cigar, and beers at "Rick's Cafe."
  • Who can guess the name of the movie, cigar, and beers enjoyed?

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Send Hillary

      First let me say that if international relations have broken down between Mauritania and the US, it was before I showed up at their embassy in Rabat!  I had nothing to do with it .. so... If Obama is sending Hillary to the region, it would help me out if she could swing by Morocco and pay a quick visit, (and bring some of that money from the printers if any is left).   Also,  if I'm going to live to be 100, my teeth must last. Sharing three cups of tea is nice, but is asking for sweet and low instead of a pound of sugar in every pot of tea so bad? Get rid of the tea, and start a tradition of three pints of beer and use the sugar for making beer, wine, whiskey! It's easy, and a much better way to use up all that dam sugar !

     Finally -  what is the big deal? I wait until almost everyone is gone from the Mosque before asking the " few good men left " if I could go inside. I will remove my shoes, take no pictures, not wipe my feet on those mats, and ask no stupid tourist questions, I promise ! One guy is okay to let me in, but the others all start arguing.. I leave.Maybe the sarcasm I picked up playing cards Thursday nights in Fall City doesn't translate in Arabic, German, French, or Spanish the way one would expect.

      Mali & Niger must be the recipients of more US aid, because onward travel visas only took 24 hours. But Mauritania does not want to budge after six trips to the embassy.

      Chad and Sudan want as much crap as Graham Construction would after doing everything possible except wash their trucks to get paid. So, what does this all mean ? besides not working for Graham again?  Well, in the morning I return to the embassy and hope everyone had a good weekend and my passport has the precious needed rubber stamp.

      I continue to work on visas for Chad, Sudan , & Ethiopia and hope I have it together before I show up at the border.

       Onward travel visa applications often require proof that I am leaving ! (Could be booking flights back to the USA just for copies of the itinerary and then cancelling later.) They want to know where I am staying, reservations at the best hotels for a nice reference letter to the embassy, letters of introduction, a full breakdown of my itinerary, financial statements, passport photos, money, and picture taking permits, ( really !)

      Then I wait. The good news is while waiting I see Morocco, buy 12 blog  followers those souvenir tee shirts, and teach the locals how to make beer !