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.