Friday, July 16, 2010

What I Won't Miss

This is an email from a friend who visited for a little over a week. Keep in mind that Casablanca is the most liberal and progressive city in one of the Muslim World's most liberal and progressive countries. This starts minutes after we parted company at a train station:

Sooo....for the vais t'en raconter.

Imagine me...

*hugs in front of gare* [exit you]

[enter me...seule]

Buys tickets, parks self near bench an starts reading [book] alone. Doesn't look up but remarks that several groups of young men walk past and slow down while walking [Moroccan man code for "look up, I think you're interesting but have no non-creepy way of bothering you at 5:30 in the morning].

Me: Fuck *mumble*

Gets on train, starts to sleep...bothered by a group of two men who routinely pass in the walk way and scream when they get to my seat (to freak me out?... it works)

[Enter other moroccan guy, my ageish] Offers to sit next to me. I refuse (on principle because who knows, he could be friends with the screamers). He takes my bag and guides me to sit with his friends, who include some clueless backpacker Italian guy. I fall asleep, but stay alert... Italian refers to me as a "bella regazza" and continues speaking to one of the moroccans in Italian about how cute i am and how alone i must feel. I "wake up". One moroccan goes into a lengthy discussion about how dumb I am to travel alone, and how i should have brought my sister or my father with me...I say i'm meeting them later...and that my husband i going to meet me in fez.

He says i'm a "menteuse" because it's not possible that I'm married with two kids as I claim. I show a photo, he disputes it...tells me I should get off at the next stop chez lui and cancel my flight. I refuse. He gets angry but eventually apologizes and welcomes me chez lui with my children when I can. Also tells me that he noticed me in the gare, and that when moroccans see a girl like me (no joke) they want to do something bad to me. Because I'm alone, and female and vulnerable. Which i guess is at least honest but also begs the question: "What the FUCK?"

[exit them] [enter women across the aisle, who, I just noticed is staring at me, without looking away...for the next two hours].

I exit the train, exhausted/freaked further bothered by random ass motherfuckers at the airport...

I'm done with this country.

I've riffed on it before, but women get treated like shit in Morocco. And now that I've left the country, I can expand: Until the hammer blows of modernity can smash away the fringes of theological psychosis (as has been done to Christianity and Judaism), I would not recommend a solo visit for any woman to ANY non-secular Islamic country. It's certainly do-able, and there's a lot to learn, but you should not expect anyone you meet to have an appreciation for your worth as a human being. If that would bother you, don't come alone. [Note: The more conservative, the worse it gets. Example. Example.Example.Example.]

On a lighter note; my friend also got a shitload of creepy Couchsurfing solicitations.

For anyone unfamiliar with it; is essentially a utilitarian Facebook for backpackers. People set up profiles, list whether or not they have a spare couch, and travelers come through and sleep on it. It's a distasteful concept to many (particularly those with hang-ups about privacy and safety). But to others - the people who understand what backpackers are - it's an incredible resource. The expense of accommodation and the apprehension about meeting worthwhile people are two of the most daunting hurtles of any extended journey. Couchsurfing solves both.

I've always been a fan, but I do have a suggestion if anyone associated with the site's management happens to read this:

Get rid of the Creeper Bar.

Whenever you log into your homepage, the system will display a list of people who have recently logged in from a close-by IP address. So... a list of locations and login times linked to the IP-addresses of various travelers. I never thought much of it before now. No one has ever contacted me that way (in 10 months... not a single one). The system is set up so that if you need something - directions, a drink, a couch - you can search for people offering those things and ask them directly. So who would write to a traveler out of the blue and ask for something that clearly wasn't on offer?

Moroccan dudes, apparently.

Aforementioned friend also received a number of correspondences during her stay:

Good evening
I hope your trip went well, and you spend the good times in Morocco, well I would be happy among us t'acceuillir Essaouira on the town or Jimmy hadrix a resident for several years the city or that it y'avais of a hippy then. I hope that my proposal interests you and that it could do that.

First of all, I'm really happy to welcome you in Morocco. You definitely choose a country well known for its hospitality. A country with a diversity of landscapes, cultures and traditions, a warm weather and a uncommon ambient. So I introduce myself, My name is Hicham. I'm originally from Rabat the capital of Morocco I'm learning Hotel management. rabat is a sunny city andwith a lot of parties. I invite you to to live unforgetable moments.To visit the medina, and to enjoy together in a cafe.

*See you later

good morning
it's tarik from italy and i m in long visit to rabat my origine city i would like to have nice talk with you and knowing many friends from all the world
so don't hesit to call me at this number 065440**** if you are in rabat
and then take care

hi [Name] i wish u a good day from casablanca and i dont work this times if u wanna we can make a coffe oe beer around....see yup ....reply my plz

Dear [Name],
I hope you are doing well,
I am Said from Morocco ,it will be pleasure for me to know u more
take care

hi!i am a couchsurfer from casablanca,i am registred on this website to carry my dream to visit all the 4 corners of the world and meet a lot of people!!i know that you are here in morocco so if you want we can meet for a drink or a cooffe and even host you coz my couch is available,an after making knowledge i could visit you in your country.
best wishes.

Hey [Name]

Firstly you are welcome to your second country Morocco !!

Im Zuhair from Casablanca , i see that you are in Casablanca also now , so if you wanna go to a place where you can have a view of the whole Casablaca , let me know i will be pleased to do that , im sure you will love it as all my couchsurfing friends .plz just let me know befor by sending a message , in case im not free or has something to do ok ...

how are u hope doinf fine i saw ur profil i try to write to you somme line hope find u well . i live in city of pink calling kela mgouna just 100 km from ouarzazate. i say if you like to discover this perdise welcome

how are you I live in Ouarzazate that is a city in southern Morocco that is also called the gate of the desert, and the chief town of the province of the same name. Located at the meeting of the valleys of the Wadi Wadi Ouarzazate and Dades (from the High Atlas) that make up the Draa river downstream of their confluence, it is the hub of a vast region of southern Morocco . Ouarzazate refers to both the foothills south of the High Atlas and the nearby desert.

if you have a program to visit this city contact me at 0 6 77 15 ****
well come home

welcome in Rabat

And my personal favorite (points for brevity and directness)...


Needless to say, 'opinionated' would be a vast understatement for me on this subject. I'll write more about it later because I've got about 10 months worth of vitriol to get out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


So, I'm going home in a couple of weeks. But before I bore everyone with that...

Credit to my friend Jeff for this. Yeah; website that sells lion meat: Also Poussin, Black Bear (!), Antelope and Camel. I can't imagine they ship to Morocco, but needless to say, I will be dropping the folks at Czimer's a line once I get home.

So besides definitely eating some lion (check out the Yelp reviews -- righteous indignation is by far the funniest projected emotion), I will be taking the following route home:

Leaving late July. So if you live on or around any of the red dots, let me know. Drinks.