Trains, Buses and Ferries
X Diaries: North Africa Adventure
Written: July 8th, 2001
Republished: September 22, 2007
were in Morocco. Because of problems with Sahara Independence
Movement, extreme security was enforced, guides were actually
government employees (secret police), one walking in front and
one walking at the back of the group, you had to shop where they
wanted you to shop, they were watching you at all times. In a
way this was good, cause this would avoid American Tourists to
get killed like in Egypt, and it would avoid hostage incidents
like Lebanon, but in a way it was like Police State traveling,
kind of like traveling in China (Blondie said, and Brunetty agreed!)
But did it
stop us to go where we wanted, speak to who we wanted and shop
where we wanted? No way Jose! We done it all. We even hired a
native to go around the bazaar, searching for items that we wanted,
bring it to us, and then we still bargained, but paid him a tip
for his troubles. You can find the best Italian Leather Jackets
for a cheaper price, much cheaper than it is in Italy, you can
find the best Gold, Silver, Tasbih (Muslim Rosary Beads), hand
craft much cheaper than Spain, and of course the local stuff,
Fez Hats (Attabek Turkish Cylinder Hats with a tonsil hanging),
Jellaba (Moor one piece garment), head scarf for men, musical
instruments, etc. If you know how to shop, how to bargain, and
where to go, Morocco is better than Mexico! Even if you don't
speak Arabic, the peddlers speak 3 to 4 languages of Arabic, English,
Spanish and French. Arabic is their native language, French and
Spanish because of years of colonialization.
in bazaar was speaking three languages, I spoke Spanish with him
and asked him, why are you a peddler, why don't you work for United
Nation, you are qualified and they pay more?! He laughed! The
man who fixed up my hotel room spoke perfect Spanish with me,
I asked him if he was Spaniard, he said no, I'm an Arab! I said
wow, you speak fine Spanish, man! I asked him if they have a drug
problem in Morocco? He said, we don't have a drug problem here!
I said practically everybody smokes Hashish here, Europeans even
come here to smoke freely (not that it's legal, but police has
an understanding with tourists!) He said, hashish is not a drug,
we roll a few cigarettes of hashish daily and smoke it. It is
from the earth, it is only natural! Drug is what they have in
Spain, they got drug problems like Heroine, cocaine and other
was a character, he insisted not to call the king Mohammed the
6th, "Sultan" and call him "Malek"! Because
Sultan takes from the people, but Malek gives to the people! Blondie
just had to start trouble (as usual)!
isn't he taking from the whole country? What does he give, anything?
(Oh shitsu, here we go again) The guide, the government employee
guide looked at her kind of with unbelieving eyes and said: Ah,
well, oh, Ah, you know, Ah......... I jumped in and said: So Rashid,
Ahlan Va Sahlan Habibi, what belly dancing show to see tonight,
somewhere with healthy women and at least one layer of belly?
You know what I mean (knocked to his hand with my elbow while
winking at him), Rashid suddenly had a smile on his face, first
for my Arabic speaking and second for my joke. The other supposedly
tour guide (secret police) who was walking at the back, also relaxed
from his tense mood created by Blondie! So we all laughed. Later
on I took Blondie and Brunetty to the side and told both of them
about how they are not in States and this is a third world nation,
a kingdom, with internal political independent movements and problems.
These guys are here to protect you from getting kidnapped, terrorized
or becoming "Harem Wives" for some rich Arab slave trader
on coast of Tangier! So try to cooperate instead of agitate. Being
mouthy and sarcastic here could end both of you voluptuous ladies
as the main dish for the local Malek Hassan, so please behave!
later on we did not hear the end of it, Blondie started with how
this trip reminded her of the Chinese trip with their police state
deal of no taking pictures of authorities and important people,
no wondering off, no talking to public, no....... Blondie almost
got the New Zealanders and even young school teacher ladies from
Hick town Wisconsin in trouble! She just would not shut up, same
as me in Fatimah about religion, she would go on about security.........
until I had to gag her and shut her up with what you don't want
to know! But it worked, and she wouldn't talk for a long while
until we left the coasts of Morocco to Ceuta (North African Spanish
behavior, corruption, hypocrisy, hospitality and other routines,
reminded me of Iran! I got homesick, even though I haven't seen
Iran in ages and the only home I know is San Diego! So I said,
X: I'm homesick,
Morocco made me homesick. Honey aren't you homesick?
B: Morocco made me think that why I left that bloody place called
X: Do you always have to be sarcastic?
B: Really, I couldn't stand those people, even at shah's time.
X: you are so westernized.
B: No, these countries are so corrupt, everybody is slick, remember
the bazaar, the government shop was trying to sell the same hand
made job to us triple the price of outside, and then they didn't
want us to mingle with public! What kind of a nationalist tells
you not to talk to his own people? Damn secret police posing as
tour guides, tour guides my ass...
X: OK OK, don't start again.....
B: That's why these countries never progress, people want to screw
each other, even their own people...
X: So I guess if I decide to live in Iran in the future, you will
not join me?
B: F...k that S...t, are you crazy?
X: What if the IRI won't be in power.
B: I didn't leave Iran because of IRI, I left it because of all
the Bull S....t, chauvinism, male domination, f..ed up traditions,.........
X: OK OK I got the picture, how about just a tour or a visit for
sight seeing, like this?
B: Why would I? I go sight seeing somewhere that I enjoy, somewhere
civilized, never again in these S...t Holes, next trip Paris,
somewhere in west Europe.
X: But I hate French, they are arrogant and they hate Americans....
B: But they have culture, not like these bastards...
X: But how about Rashid?
B: F....k Rashid
X: But he is a Habibi
B: F...k them all, not again
X: But theres Club Med down the street
B: Even Club Med is S..t here, the best hotels are S..t too, you
know why, cause the country is F...ed up, Rulers getting richer,
poor gets poorer, and nation is a F...k up.
X: but it's nostalgic to visit Iran
B: Keep your nostalgia to yourself. Iran was a F..k Up at Shah's
time and it is a F..k Up now. Shah, Mullah, same Shiite but different
X: And you call yourself Iranian?
B: Nope, I call myself American, and I will remain in America
while you go to Iran.
X: You mean you will not follow me to the end of the earth and
B: I will dump you to the end of the Earth and I will come back
X: Shame shame shame
B: And that's the game game game
X: It's a risk to go for a visit, but maybe we can go sneaking
in from the gulf or Turkish border, so there will be no hassle
at the airport.
B: No you will go sneaking in, I will be sneaking into La Jolla
Cove lying at the beech.
X: How about you chuck? (to Brunetty)
Br: How about me?
X: Will you go for a visit or maybe to live in Iran?
Br: In a cold day in hell I will!
X: I cannot understand you girls
Br: You would, only if you were a woman.
Well, I guess,
it's a woman's thing and I left it at that. Damn Blondie and damn
Brunetty, they just did not enjoy Morocco the way I did! I saw
Malek's palace but they saw beggars and peddlers in the street
following us in the bazaar! I smelled the sandy shores of Tangier
and 1001 nights but they smelled Sewerage from underground and
narrow streets! C'est La Vive.....
So we said
our good-byes to Rashid and left Morocco without taking back a
belly dancer as a souvenir! I always wanted to have one of my
own, God damit!
noticeable in all these countries was that, every Riviera, resort
town or beautiful place that we went to, in Spain, Portugal, Morocco,
Gibraltar (British Colony on European side of the straight), or
Ceuta (Spanish colony on African side of the straight), we saw
the Saudi King Fahad or his Prince owning an Extra large villa
or palace with his own private or public Mosque and sometimes
hospital next to it! Public meaning open to public when he is
not there, and private meaning only his when he is there! A few
miles down the road we would see sheik of Kuwait having a smaller
version of palace or villa built there! The amazing thing is that
according to the law in Morocco, when you own the land, they cannot
remove you from it by buying you out or by force. So on the right
hand side in the highest class neighborhood of Tangier, you could
see Malek Fahad's villa, going on for miles and miles of walls
with Moroccan and Saudi Guards on duty, and on the left hand of
the same street you could see a shack without even the running
water belonging to a poor lower class family of 10, hanging there!
You could see the actual difference of social classes, the harsh
reality of Morocco side by side. Rashid told me that things went
to hell during the last years of Malek Hassan, cause he was very
ill. Corrupted officials stole whatever they could and built mansions,
which cannot be repossessed from them even now! And the poor lost
everything and became more poor. It was amazing how a revolution
did not occur! But since Malek Mohammed the 6th crowned himself
as the king, things looked hopeful and things are running better,
things are going back to the same way it was during glory days
of Hassan. Mohammed the 6th was an honorary professor who never
taught in the university, but supposedly it was his job! Since
he took office, he tried to straighten up the government and the
land, and clean it from the corruption, but lately again he is
going to stagnate like the late years of Malek Hassan!
I wanted to
tell Rashid, my dear friend, all dictators are on people's side
first and they are idealistically wanting to change everything
and make the country heaven, but alas that the whole system of
dictatorship is corrupt, the royal family, prime ministers, cabinets,
government officials, public employees, all the way down to the
simple policeman, it is one big corrupted thievery. Even if the
king wants to change things around, his hands will be tied by
the many governments inside the main government! And that is the
nature of a dictatorship, which becomes a tradition and it stays
for centuries in and out like our beloved Morocco. I wanted to
tell Rashid all this, but I looked at his eyes and he looked at
my eyes, we both knew that the other party knows better about
the whole truth and the nature of politics in Morocco and the
whole Middle East and North Africa, so none of us spoke another
word about this, no more.
simply whispered at me and said: Hey Doc, we don't want to get
Blondie to start over again now do we?! And we both cracked up
laughing so loud while we salute each other and had a toast while
he drank Halaal "Sangria" (Spanish National alcoholic
drink made of a blend of different wines, liquors and fresh fruits)
and I lifted up my glass of hot Moroccan traditional Mint Tea......
Salute Habibi, Salute..... He looked at me while picking up his
glass with a meaningful look and he whispered to me "Everything
will be well Ensha Allah, everything Habibi...." Everybody
was staring at us wondering what is a Moor secret service posing
as a guide and I are whispering to each other, toasting for each
other's health and loudly laughing about? But no one could understand
the meaningful lock of the eye sights and our meaningful smiles,
they were just seeing him as a Right wing Secret Police and seeing
me as a Revolutionary, both from the region, but they failed to
see the human contact and the bizarre understanding between the
two of us. What could the two of us have in common?! (they thought)
day at the fairy, we were saying goodbye to Morocco, taking the
fairy boat to Spain, Rashid hugged me on both sides and we said
our good-byes, we kissed each other on both cheeks Eastern style
and while hugging and kissing, he whispered in my ear;
I have over heard your conversations to your comrades on the hotel
telephone (by tapping) and I ran an inquiry, I know you are a
trouble maker, be careful, very cautious my habibi."
I kissed him on the other cheek and whispered back in to his ear;
X: "Rashid eDin, I am aware that you know, anything less
would be unsatisfactory from a man of your intelligence, take
good care of yourself Haji."
R: Who knows, maybe next time we meet in Mecca habibi (with a
X: Who knows maybe, Na'am, Na'am everything is possible (smirked
R: Bon voyage Ensha Allah
X: Va Alaikom o Salam my friend
Rashid screamed: "Everything will be well Ensha Allah, everything
He smiled and waved good-bye to us......
I looked at him waving while standing on the deck of the boat,
with my thoughts taking me miles and miles away.
incident had occurred on the fairy. We were sitting in first class
and a raggedy Moor man and his family (wife and three children)
were sitting outside (not even in coach)! Suddenly a group of
Americans started singing Star Spangled Banner! This was the last
draw for the poor Moor with tattered clothes! "Are these
Yanks crazy" (I asked myself)? Patriotic American songs in
Near East? Do they have a death wish? All of a sudden, the poor
Moor got fed up, walked to the first class and sat on a chair
around our table! Security started arguing with him and wanted
to kick him out. Poor Moor started to fight with the security.
Another security came! They were speaking Arabic and they did
not know that I could understand them!
I am going to sit here. The best is for me, I am a Moor, this
is my fairy, this is my country. F..k foreigners. Why everything
good is for them? F..k you traitors
Secuirty: Get out and go back outside, you Barbarian dog
Poor Moor: I will not move a inch. Long live revolution. Equal
rights for all
Security: Shut up you dog
I could easily
see that a mini revolution was forming! As always, same as back
home in Iran, disgusted with injustice, I meddled in Morrocan
X: It's OK,
let him sit here. I vouch for him.
Poor Moor: (bright eyed and surprised, stared at me) Ya Akhi,
you speak Arabic?
X: Yes brother. You and I are from the same seed, we are both
human. Sit on our table, it's OK.
Security: Are you sure?
Security: Ahlen beik
X: Go away, it's OK.
(Securities left but you guys had to see Americans' faces with
disgust from this man's odor and filthy clothes.)
Poor Moor: Brother, Allah bless you. We don't see people like
you in Morooco. It is cut throat over here. I thought you are
another f..ker (pointing at American tourists). These pigs think
they own the world!
X: Always think twice before judging people.
Poor Moor: Please forgive me brother.
X: "Everything will be well Ensha Allah, everything Habibi...."
(I smiled and whispered in his ears)!
Poor Moor: Ahlen (with a face full of wrickels and dust due to
years of manual labor with low pays in an unjust society.)
the European side, the poor Moor wanted to kiss my hand but I
grabbed his tiered shoulder, lift him up with my strong arms,
brought him close to me, hugged him on both sides and whispered
in his ear
never bow down to no man. We are the same. You are my brother.
Poor Moor: Brother you changed my view of Americans!
X: Things will get better, things will change.
Poor Moor: Ensha Allah.
I left this
raggedy, filthy, tattered, dark and dirty Moor man on the deck,
waved goodbye to him and walked away. Blondie, Brunetty, Americans
and Securities were looking at him with disgust and looking at
me with unbelieving eyes and then suddenly I heard his fading
voice talking to himself
"Everything will be well Ensha Allah, everything Habibi...."
is what used to get me back in Imperial Iran and injustice is
what gets me now when I travel to the third world. Corrupt governments
with rich getting richer and the poor dying from poverty and these
systems are blessed by US and Western foreign policies due to
politics, profit and respectable global public relations! Injustice
is what gets me!
Diaries: In Darbar We Eat This Kind of Mame!
Back to Spain,
seeing all the Arabic Castles and Palaces like Al Casar, Al Hambra,
Al Casar de Seville, and of course city of Granada the last Moor
stand in Iberia and the last Moorish Caliph who surrendered to
Christians and put an end to the 800 years rule of Muslims in
Iberian Peninsula, made me think of how the wind can change just
like that, one day you rule and the next you fall off of your
kingdom! And that's life. So Moors ruled Spain for 800 years and
then Spain ruled Moors for a while and that's life. C'est La Vive......
One of the
best Riviera on Mediterranean is Casa Del Sol and of course Torremolinos
to talk specifically. While walking at the shores at night, I
was getting too deep and too philosophical about everything that
happened during the last few weeks, suddenly Umberto my Ecuadorian
colleague grabbed me and said hey I got pictures of Nick (The
Sikh) belly dancing naked with the Moor belly dancer! Should I
send a copy to his wife or should I black male him first?! We
cracked up and headed back to the hotel.
Back to Madrid,
at airport, and then back to Gatwick again, while I was reading
your beautiful posts on Blondie's wireless laptop at airport facilities,
I was thinking about everything which happened during this trip,
from political meetings to meeting interesting people and for
a few seconds I put aside my pessimistic side and remembered Rashid
waving good-bye "Habibi, everything will be well my friend,
Ensha Allah", everything will be well,....
Back to reality,
back to state, and back to work, I was sitting behind my desk
in my very large and beautifully remodeled office, staring at
a picture miniature, a work of art by Master Mahmoud Farshchian;
it was based on an Omar Khayyam's poem. Man can learn a lot from
traveling. I kept on staring to the painting and thought about
all who we lost, all who we gained, all that was in stake, all
that we fight for, and all that we live for. I whispered to myself,
will be well my friend, everything will be well..............
Time for Dr.
to go away now, it was nice catching up with your posts and let
you know about a few things that I have experienced lately. See
One can learn
a lot from Travels.
Travel builds character!
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