You know how it is when you get something new and suddenly you see it everywhere? That’s how Morocco is for me. Everywhere I go I see or hear something about Morocco. From hair products to food to a movie set to music, it’s all related to Morocco. To top it off I found out that the US Ambassador to Morocco under President Obama is Samuel L. Kaplan, my neighbor! He lives about 1/2 mile from me and I’m on a hunt to find him. I am planning to go back to Morocco and wouldn’t it be cool to have made contact with the guy? It’s worth a try.
I can’t get Morocco out of my mind. I’m entirely focused on the place and the people I met. This place, above all others ever, has really affected me. It opened up my view on this culture and to this place I’ve never known that much about. I always thought Morocco was a dangerous place for some reason. I don’t know why. And based on the comments I received before my departure it seems I wasn’t alone. Nearly everyone who knew I was going (if they weren’t confusing it with ‘Monaco’), warned me about my visit there. I remember the morning I left I said good-bye to my friend Debbie and commented, “This is probably the most dangerous place I’ve visited.” She agreed. We hugged each other extra hard.
Why did I feel that way? In hindsight it’s probably because it’s a Muslim country. I can’t think of any other reason because I really knew very little about the place except that. So what else could it be? Whatever the reason, I was wrong. Not once did I feel afraid. And the fact that the place is Muslim had no bearing on anything for me. I was just surprised in general how friendly and kind everyone was, but not because it’s a Muslim country. I was surprised just because it was so notable.
I’m not naive enough to think there’s no bad that befalls tourists or others, but I just never felt anything unnerving. The closest I came perhaps is when I was walking on our street to the car with Mokhtar. He was carrying my luggage and a guy I had seen many times before approached him and started talking to him and grabbing for my luggage, ignoring me the whole time. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but could tell by body language that Mokhtar wasn’t keen on the guy. Finally, appearing to be under some pressure to do so, Mokhtar handed my bag to the guy and we walked to the car. There was a split second that I wondered what was going to happen and debated about what I should do. Then the guy started dusting off the car, helping me in, wiping off the windshield, all for money. Mokhtar gave him a few dirham and we took off. “Remember his face,” Mokhtar told me. Turns out the guy is the gang leader for that area and as Mokhtar said, it’s better to just go along with him so that in the future he will help you out vs fighting him. So while we most likely weren’t in any danger, I was right on my interpretation of the situation just by reading the body language and was on the lookout for him later.