I am a Magical Machine.

November 29, 2007

I can turn any amount of moroccan beer in the liquid state into three times as much beer in the gaseous state in just under an hour.

If you know a way that beer-to-gas conversion could turn a profit, kindly email me.


The Weekend Part III: I’ve Actually Never Been To Millitant Training Camp, Actually.

November 27, 2007

So, where were we? Ah yes, you were at home in a nice warm room, and I was eating pringles looking out over the meditteranean ocean. I had a bottle of orange juice, but it was a “sports bottle” which meant I had to hold it 6 inches from my face and crush it in my fist to get anything out. Just like on the commercials.

So I decided to blow that swarthy popsicle stand and re-enter Morocco. At the border, there are bums that earn a living by filling out your entry questionnaire for you. I got pestered beyond all belief, and the bum eventually took my passport and gave it to the guard for me. He said something in Arabic and promised me “speedy expedited service.”

The guard looked at my papers and asked if I was a Muslim. Trying to be friendly, I said “Not yet, but in the future, no man can know.” Then he asked if I was married. I considered telling him I don’t have a girlfriend, I just know a girl that would get angry if she heard me say that, but I settled for saying “no.” At this point, I wasn’t surprised. I thought he was trying to figure out if I was a missionary. It seems to me that some moroccans can’t understand why an American would come to their country, and therefore we must be here after their only thing of value: Islam. What happened next, though, took me by surprise.

“Pakistan?” He asked. “How long were you in Pakistan?”

I kept smiling and said I’d never been to pakistan, but he didn’t buy it. He told me if I was just there to study or visit family it was all right; I could tell him. What did I study in Pakistan? Where did I stay? Did I have family there? How about Pakistani friends?

The only thing that I can imagine is that he saw “Indiana” listed as my birthplace and assumed that I was born in “India.” I had the same problem when I tried to get the passport in the first place. Anyway, after assuring him that I was not a Pakistani, that I had never attended any sort of “school” overseas, and that I had no Pakistani friends, he said “I will give you an entry stamp for 7 days. If you are here longer than that, you must go to the police and register yourself.”

At this point, I hadn’t eaten in 2 days. I had been soaked and walked something like a dozen kilometers. I’d spent most of my weekend worrying first about how to pay for a hotel room, then about whether the black marketeer was going to dump my carcass in the ocean after robbing me. The guard could have said “I will give you a 3 hour entry visa” and I would have gladly accepted.

Anyway, my original entry stamp would have expired. This new one would have expired monday. So I would have gained a grand total of zero. But I had a suspicion: what in the hell is a 7 day entry stamp? I think that he was expecting me to say “no, I want 3 months!” at which point he would ask for money. Either that, or he said it hoping I would flip out, and then he’d go “Aha!  You are here to circumvent our laws! No Entry!” Or mabe he was just joking with me. Moroccans do love to joke. I’d say that I misunderstood, but he said all this in English.

So I rode on the bus back home fading between blind, face-boiling angry and stomach-curdling hungry. I’ve always said that the only two emotions a man should feel are angry and hungry, and if that’s true, this was the manliest weekend I’ve ever spent. Yesterday I was in rare form indeed, all wild-eyed and cursey-mouthed.

Anyway, as you can see below, information recieved from The Comission indicates the choices for a border guard are 3 months and zero months. There’s no inbetween. So I am good. Well, my entry permit is good. Whether or not I am a Rajel Mezian is for cab drivers to determine.


Sudden News

November 26, 2007

Accoridng to the diplomatic community, a border guard does not have the authority to issue a 7-day stamp and not a 3-month entry stamp. It’s 3-months or nothing. My intuition was probably correct. Anyway, no need to worry. I need not flee the country before late january. Well, at least not for Visa reasons. This is good; if they were going to deport me, I was going to make sure it was for something cool. Like parachuting naked onto the roof of the hospital or shooting someone in the foot with a crossbow. But all of that is unnecessary now.

 Well, maybe not unnecessary, but probably uncalled for.


The Weekend Part II: A Good Man isn’t Hard to Find

November 26, 2007

So, at this point I had spent saturday night in a hotel and was now on the search for Euros with which to pay my bill and ransom the $200 deposit I’d put down. All the banks were closed, though. And the odd thing is that so was the Catheral. If not in church, where in the hell were all the bankers on a sunday morning?

Anyway, so I stop 2 or 3 people on the street and ask if they speak French, English, or Arabic. No one did, and they all seemed eager to get away from the huge badly dressed man on the street. So I thought, I should ask someone who won’t be intimidated by me or think I will rob them. So I ask a cab driver. He must have had 200 pounds and three inches on me. After an elaborate pantomime, he says he knows of a dollar-to-euro exchange, and I get in his cab.

When I sit down, he’s grinning this huge grin. I say “uh oh”, but I see that his ID says Mohammed on it. So in arabic, I ask if he speaks Arabic, and then proceeded to ask if he, his parents, and his family are in good health. He quits grinning like a damn fool and drives me, of all things, to an ABANDONED GAS STATION.

Ceuta is a tiny city with no hope of expanding further into Morocco. Space is at a premium, yet there’s an abandoned gas station? I think the city planners built it specifically for people to have a place to due shady dealings. Anyway, there’s an elderly man there and in Arabic the cab driver calls him a “Good Man.” He was! I had 155 Euros worth of dollars, and he gave me 150 Euros for them. That’s a mighty fine rate. The cab driver, after we returned to the taxi stand, pointed to the meter and said “five euros”, but that’s not bad. I gave him a ten, and he gave me 5 back in change. Then he thought about it and gave me one more and said, in arabic “for coffee.”

I went back to the hotel and paid. The man behind the counter looked sad, and for a moment it occured to me he didn’t expect me to find euros and was hoping to pocket my deposit. But he’d given me a receipt and entered something in the computers and all, so I don’t know how he could even have done that. Anyway.

I know had a pocket full of euros and nothing in my stomache, but I did not see a single open place the entire 3 kilometer walk to the border. Just a gas station where I got a can of pringles and a little bottle of juice. At this point I was happy to be leaving Ceuta, but little did I know the worst was yet to come.

Stay tuned for The Weekend Part III, wherein I am mistaken for a Pakistani millitant and denied entry to Morocco.


This Weekend, Part I: Arrival

November 26, 2007

So, I ended up going to Ceuta, the Enclave city on Morocco’s northern coast. It’s officially part of Spain, and the Spanish are pretty much using it as a bargaining chip, saying they’ll give it back if the Moroccans can get the British off of Gibraltar. I’m no international affairs expert, but never going to happen.

Anyway, I walk to the bus station and get on the bus. I’m psyched. I managed to convince myself that this was a vacation, and not a pain in my ass. I get about halfway there, when I realize that, because I’d gotten freaked out about pickpockets, I had taken my bank card out of my wallet. And left it in my desk. All I had to get to Ceuta on was a handful of Dirhams and a few emergency dollars. But to hell with it, I said. If I’ve got to go to Ceuta, I’ll sleep on the beach for all I care. Just get this shit over with. The bus ride was 5 hours altogether.

So I get to Tetuan, and have to get a cab from there to the border. About halfway there, there’s a 2-mile stretch of road that is flooded, because this whole trip has taken place in the pouring rain. So we slug along at like 3 mph and this supposedly 20 minute cab ride takes an hour and a half. By the time I make it through customs and am finally standing upon Spanish soil, it is pitch black and pouring out. Ceuta is on a hill, but all the surrounding areas are flooded. Everything is closed.

So I walk 3 kilometers into town in the light rain, along the ocean, so that means there’s also a driving wind and I’m covered with a thick layer of salt when I get to town. I try 3 different hostels, and they’re all full. Finally I try a gen-u-wine hotel. The man behind the counter, Jesus, says that if I leave $200 as a deposit, I can take my other money the next day, go find some Euros, and get my deposit back. “People change money in the street all the time here.” He says “The banks give you bad rates. Trade with people. Is perfect legal here.”

And that’s how I ended up in a cab with the strongest man in Ceuta, driving to an abandoned gas station so I could meet “a good man.”

I’m off to class. More later.


Worst Weekend of All Time Ever Had by Anyone, Ever

November 25, 2007

So, this weekend has been terrible. I am dead tired, and I think part of my brain exploded from anger, so let me give you these tantalizing tidbits until I can tell the whole story:

This weekend I have sat on a bus for a total of 11 hours.

I ended up in spain with no spendable currency

I ended up taking a cab ride to an abandoned gas station to meet a “good man”

The streets going to, and in, the Enclave City were flooded

I’ve walked around 7 kilometers this weekend, 3 of which were in the rain

I didn’t eat from breakfast saturday till just now

The border guard gave me an entry permit good for 7 days, and since my old one would have expired in 7 days, that means I made a total profit of ZERO DAYS.

I saw the Moroccan Evelyn on a bus. It was weird.

And upon returning here, my room smells like ass. The end.


Entry Stamp Issues!

November 24, 2007

So, the entry stamp on my passport expires next monday. The people here in Fes won’t let me apply for a residency permit because I have no proof I will be in Morocco after December 31st. The people in Casablanca won’t let me apply because I have no proof that I am living in the country now. So I have to apply for an entry permit extension. But the people here jerked me around so long that I’ve got no chance of getting it.

How on earth can a program like this have been built without more aid for getting residency permits? I mean, surely there’s some expedited process or something that the government could arrange? And how can the school possibly know so little about residency permits?

Anyway, I am taking a trip to the Spain this weekend. I am trying to look at it as a fun vacation that I want to take, and not a sucky pain in the ass productof beaurocracy. Maybe they give you such a hard time getting a residency permit to help out the spanish tourism industry? I don’t know. Blarg! This gets 0 out of 6 on the international burger scale.