Sunday, February 28, 2010

If You See Her Say Hello

So a four day weekend meant, "Get The Hell Out Of Ifrane." My friend Donnie and headed out on Wednesday at noon. As we were standing out the gate to campus, our friend Souki drove by and gave a ride to the marche. We got the marche and managed to get a grand taxi within ten minutes. Quite a feat considering usually you have to haggle with them for an hour and you still get ripped off, the crooks. An hour ride to the Meknes train station went by very quickly, the sun was out, it was a beautiful day. So far, so good.

We arrive at the train station and walk up to the window, "Two for the two o'clock train to Tangier please." "No" is the response we get. In a mix of Arabic, French, and broken English the man behind the counter try's to explain that because of the Biblical rains, the track from Meknes to Tangier is flooded and no trains are going to Tangier. Set back! 

We walk to the bus station and find out there is a bus going Tangier, leaving at 7:15pm, it is currently around 2:30. The only option was the bus, so we bought two tickets for the 7:15 bus to Tangier, a five hour trip, we were told. Back on track.

After locating some food, a stroll through the medina, and a couple glasses of tea, we head to the bus station at 6:00pm, to make sure we are able to catch the 7:15 bus.  The bus doesn't show up until 8:00pm. Set Back number two.

At 8:15 we finally set out on the five hour trip to Tangier. Back on track.

After about four hours on the bus, we stop. A place called Souk Laurba, Wednesday Market. One lamp post in an other wise deserted outpost an hour from anything.  The bus driver says "Souk Laurba." No one responds. Again, "Souk Laurba." Nothing. The bus driver then starts checking everyones ticket. He gets to Donnie and I, "Souk Laurba" he says and starts pointing for us to get off the bus. I say "we are going to Tangier." "Souk Laurba" again, pointing off the bus. "We are going to Tangier." "Souk Laurba." 

You see when we bought the bus tickets to Tangier, the woman at the bus station had said the bus from Meknes to Tangier was full, so we had to buy tickets like we were coming from Fez. We received two tickets. Fez to Souk Laurba, Souk Laurba to Tangier. Why the bus station booked the tickets like that I don't know.

For ten minutes the bus driver is demanding we get off the bus. I keep telling him we paid for Tangier, we are going to Tangier. Finally, after seeing that we had paid for both tickets, he realizes his mistake and no one was supposed to get off the bus in Souk Laurba. He then tries to make amends for the scene he caused by saying, "Ok, Ok, everything is good." Set back number three.

It wouldn't have mattered except that this Souk Laurba was an hour out of the way. After this happened I could hear all the Moroccans on the bus saying "American, stupid," "Assholes," etc. Asshole Americans! Ignorant Moroccan! All the driver had to was look at the trip manifest he was given at the station in Meknes and he would have seen that no one was getting off the bus in Souk Laurba.

Following this unpleasantness, we were on our way, again.  

About an hour later the bus gets stopped by the police for a random check. Set back number four.  By this point I was so baffled by the whole Soul Laurba thing that I lost all hope of ever getting to Tangier.

Forty-five minutes of inspection and we start again. As we proceed the bus begins stopping in all these little villages to drop one person off. Set back number five.

Eight hours on a bus and we finally get to Tangier around 3:30-4:00am.

Keep in mind all this happened on CTM, the national bus service run by the government.

What I learned from the experience.......
    1. Public transportation operates on "Morocco Time".............. anywhere from thirty minutes late to sometime the next day.
    2. The buses are cramped, uncomfortable, and smell rank.
    3. If they say five hours, expect at least eight to ten. 
    4. I'm traveling by train or grand taxi from now on.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gimmie A Sign.

What is this bright yellow thing in the sky, that is hurting my eyes. Can it be...........the Sun.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stranger In A Strange Land.

Was many years ago that I left home and came this way
I was a young man, full of hope and dreams
But now it seems to me that all is lost and
nothing gained
Sometimes things ain't what they seem
No brave new world, no brave new world
No brave new world, no brave new world

Night and day I scan horizon, sea and sky
My spirit wanders endlessly
Until the day will dawn and friends from home
discover why
Hear me calling, rescue me
Set me free, set me free
Lost in this place, and leave no trace

Stranger in a strange land
Land of ice and snow
Trapped inside this prison
Lost and far from home

One hundred years have gone and men again
they came that way
To find the answer to the mystery
They found his body lying where it fell all that day
Preserved in time for all to see
No brave new world, no brave new world
Lost in this place, and leave no trace

What became of the man that started
All are gone and their souls departed
Left me here in this place
So all alone

Stranger in a strange land
Land of ice and snow
Trapped inside this prison
Lost and far from home

What became of the man that started
All are gone and their souls departed
Left me here in this place
So all alone

Stranger in a strange land
Land of ice and snow
Trapped inside this prison
Lost and far from home

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coming Back To Life

After a bout with food poisoning, where I thought they had killed the white boy, there will be no more consumption from the cafeteria. Walking by the place makes me ill. Let me clarify..... there are two sides to the cafeteria, on one side we have a variety of food served. A different meal for lunch and dinner. Cooked for that particular meal. Not too bad, but certainly not gourmet. On the other side is "The Grill." A vile, putrid place. What happens there is... whatever doesn't get served at lunch gets left out for several hours and is re-served at dinner. Kept at no constant temperature it's a breeding ground for various food born bacteria. The Grill has a microwave, they reheat the spoiled food in there and then give it to you. Bon Appetit!  NO MORE!! Tell me why I have to be a powerslave? A slave to the power of death. It took me a week to fully recover. A steady diet of banana's and clementines (insert random Crites/Rinto quote here) finally got me back to normal. It's the street food from now on. Not saying that won't make me sick at some point as well, however at least the street food is prepared fresh and right in front of you. It's not been sitting in a vat for six hours. The best part about the grill and the university is general is the show they put on. During orientation, when all the parents where here, the food at the grill was served hot, prepared as you ordered it, the workers serving the food wore plastic gloves, and served with a pair of tongs or a serving spoon, no microwave in sight. After the parents left all that went away. Now we get a bare hand full of rice and couple of cold chicken tenders. The university also has a very beautiful fountain that was turned on during orientation as well. The fountain hasn't been on in four weeks. It's now full of garbage. A real show stopper.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

Today marks the beginning of four weeks in the Maghrib

Today also marks the fourth week of rain.

I would dread to count how may days in a row it has rained.

Toto got it right when they sung about blessing the rains down in Africa.

We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain...and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ode To F.E.Z.

The streets of Fez ran red on Sunday morning as 19 American students, who stuck out like a sore thumb, left the city. In less than three days in the city we/I managed to:

1. Give the very nice Berber woman, who, ran the riad where we stayed, was pregnant and spoke nothing but the traditional Berber language, her first drink of alcohol.
2. Get led around the Old Medina in circles for an hour by a young man who claimed he was taking us to the tannery. However he kept leading us to the middle of the medina. I guess he didn't understand, like us dumb and gullible Americans, the two important things about the tannery; it stinks, so it is located at the edge of the city, to alleviate the stench, and the fact that water is essential to the tanning process, therefore it is also located on the river.
3. Get followed by a group little urchin children with their hands out.
4. Meet two English/Pakistani fellas who were in Morocco so one of them could meet, in person, his future bride, whom he first met on the internet.
5. Have five confirmed cases of prayer time at the porcelain god.
6. Offer my Frank Zappa t-shirt, which I love very dearly, to Mohammed, the son of the Berber lady who ran the riad.
7. Find this cheap Moroccan wine called Maghribi. That came in a green plastic bottle, had a twist off cap and a plastic pull tab. Imagine the big bottles of water you can buy at the gas station, full of red wine.
8. Think we were locked out of the old medina, it looks quite different at night after several glasses of red wine.
9. Find a local bar with 13 dirham Flag Specials and 20 dirham Johnny Walkers.
10. Have every conversation with a Moroccan turn into their sales pitch for us to buy hashish.
11. Have one person in our group be told he had to get off the bus and another in our group not even get on the bus back to Ifrane.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let Us Down..... If You Must.....Let Us Down...... Easy............

I often find that the first day back, after a great weekend, is the like getting kicked in the stomach. Back to reality, all the things you were able to put away and leave behind. Got some sad, sad news from home last night.  Impending loss hits like brick.  Going back to U.S. for the funeral is not an option.  Acceptance in person is not easy. Acceptance 3,000 miles away....................................... 

Making it eighty and some odd years on this earth is not easy......................................................................................................that's something to celebrate.