Monday, April 16, 2012


I've thought about writing this post for a long time. I shelved the idea after a higher authority asked me to take down my post The King and I. (Which I didn't and you can read here.) At the time, I thought that it might be misconstrued that a post about being paranoid would be a retort to that. Which it's not. Then, I thought only people living in Morocco would truly get it. And then, I worried about how many things I could say, I really, really want to say, but for many reasons can't. And once I edit that out, whether there would be anything left to write about. But, most importantly, I think it’s gonna make me sound more than a little crazy.

But I just don't care anymore.

First, let me tell you how visible foreigners are here. Extremely visible. And I am even easier to spot driving around town in my American minivan. Which I confess is actually Japanese, but the minivan mom mentality is totally American. This immediately sets me apart from all small cars, mopeds and donkey carts on the road. Then, I have a yellow license plate, that all foreign government employees have which, in a sea of while non-diplomatic. The number 17 on them confirms I'm American. This means anywhere I go in my car, I'm extremely visible. No big deal right? Well, it is a big deal when you live overseas. I don't know if you know this or not, but not everyone likes Americans. Which is why my dad sent me off on my first foreign adventure at 18 with the words, "If anyone asks, tell them you're Canadian." And he was right because everyone likes a Canadian. It's just that no one respects them.

Then there's home security. Not homeland security, but the actual security level of my house, though there may be some relation. My street has Moroccan security guards around the clock. They know when I leave my house, when I come home, when we go on vacation, when my husband is out of town and when I yell at my kids. Sounds great right? But, it's common knowledge that this information is common knowledge and guards can earn even more money selling it. Yup. Especially, information on foreigners. There's free agents too. Like the young male probably in his late 20's or early 30's who frequents my street with his notepad and pen and takes notes. While loitering is frequent here, shorthand is not. Not only that, but I also live next to a house under construction. And the 12 or so construction workers that live there (yes, they live in the house they're building) also know exactly when I come, when I go, when we're on vacation, when my husband's out of town and when I'm yelling at my kids. I wonder what I'm doing next Tuesday. I should ask one of the guys next door.

Then there's the further security of the 9 foot wall around my house. But, do I feel more safe because of it? Absolutely not. Just two weeks ago an American family in our area was robbed at night while they were sleeping with their 3 children upstairs. They too had a 9 foot wall around their house and neighborhood security guards 24/7. What did they steal? Their American passports. The guard probably got paid enough that he clasped his hands together holding them out like a step to boost the thieves over the gate. Criminal justice. Moroccan style.

I know that if you don't live here you're going to say all these things happen in the states too. I understand that they do. But, it's different here.

The other night I was at a friends house and someone came to her door to tell her to tell the Loerzel's our car was unlocked. The thing is, I didn't know the person. And this isn't the first time it's happened. One time I was at a park and someone came right up to me, "Marie, you need to lock your car." Of course, that's when I still went to the park with the kids, before they didn't want to go anymore. Because the kids were blonde American celebrities there and the local kids would crowd around them just to touch and kiss them. Adults did too. In Morocc, it's just called making friends. But, in America, our criminal justice system has a different name for it.

Making friends is another issue I'm extremely cautious about. Because we live among the transient, fast paced but often abbreviated friend making circuit of the embassy. Because of that, it makes me wonder if you want to be friends with me or with my Americanism and what that can bring you. And if you are American, I'm wondering if you're friends with me merely because I speak English and breathe. Then over time, I've learned to become suspicious about what you say you do for a living. And what your job really is. And whether you're actually friending me for some work related reason. Which would be really stupid, because I'm unemployed and can't get anywhere in my own career, let alone yours.

Which transitions into the next part. This blog. I don't know who reads it. Unless you tell me you do, I have no way of knowing. So, there's a whole bunch of people out there who know stuff about us, but we don't know who you are. Now, most people in Rabat don't know or care that I have a blog. Which is fine by me. But, it's that other small percentage that sometimes freaks me out a bit. Because I really am more private and shy than I may seem in print. So if you see me in the grocery store and you're looking at me a little too long, I assume you're staring at the huge zit on my chin or that I have I protruding booger. Not that you're wondering where you might know me from. Or that I look like your slow cousin from Albuquerque. (I get that one a lot actually.)

Now I know you think I'm crazy, self important and that I'm over exagerating things. And now I know that you don't live in Morocco.

Because everyone here is a bit paranoid.

Yeah, even the king. A couple of months ago some of his former employees wrote a tell all book about him. Guess who doesn't want you to read it? Because for some reason I can't find the book here. Hell, I can't even find out the name of the book here. But I hear you can buy a bootleg copy of it in French in the medina.

Just make sure you're wearing your hand of fatima necklace for protection. And that no one's following you...


Dangerous Linda said...

Hi, Marie! ~

First of all, big cyber-hug!

I don't think you're crazy. Personally, I share many of your concerns and I appreciate the fact that, however challenging these issues are for me, they are magnified in your situation.

It's all part of the rich experience you are living and the legacy you are handing to your kids. Wherever and however we choose to do it, ultimately we must go through life not around it.

Be well -- holding you in my heart! said...

I understand that feeling well. And, was just as spooked when I was informed that my car was unlocked... wondering what possessed this "friend" to try my doors in the first place. (Oh, wait, it was locked- and someone opened the doors, anyway...)

Even the paranoid have folks following them.

But, don't worry, I can't read those shorthand notes that appear in my mailbox each morning...

Anonymous said...

It'll all be over soon, and you'll be back in the US, and then people will be looking at you funny when you speak with a foreign accent and wonder where you're from and what your agenda is and are you illegal and what's your view on the President...just don't check under the bed.

Thom Brown said...

You're definitely not crazy. The first time I went to Europe, I did nothing to hide my nationality. Now when I'm there, I do everything I can not to be identified as American. I'm pretty good until I open my mouth - they all know the accent.

The Loerzels said...

@ Linda thank you!
@ Roy you're really encouraging my paranoia.
@ Stuart so are you.
@ Thom that gives me an idea, maybe I should just start talking in an accent. The question is which one...

Rachel Howells said...

I've been wondering about this aspect of your experience there, so this has been an interesting read. I think the internet itself is a big source of paranoia because there seem to be a lot of creepy weirdos lurking about in the world wide web. You never know for sure when you are going to annoy one of them, attract their fancy or incite their hatred. Geesh... now I'M feeling a little extra paranoid. LOL

Sine said...

Ha! That's why here in South Africa we put a barrage of high voltage wires on top of our 9 foot walls and let all the wild animals roam around free instead. As I remember reading on someone's blog.

quilt happy said...

i read your blog every day i have a quilting blog my self and most of mine that i read are quilting blogs but your blog is always good and i enjoy it. very few people know that i have one only 2 people in my family and quiltors

Zafira said...

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you." Finally get to use one of my favorite quotes in context. ;-) I'll miss your posts about Morocco when you all move back to the states. Maybe by then I'll be writing my own blog about Morocco and you can read it, although I know it won't be nearly as hilarious.

Leah Griffith said...

Marie, you're not nuts, paranoid, or crazy—you're an American abroad;)
Be careful, trust your gut, and try to enjoy the last days of your journey. I don't think that I could live in a place where all eyes were on me. You're brave and you have been entertaining us for some time now, sharing your life, and poking fun at yourself—and we love it!
You are amazing! Be careful and have fun!!

Jaime Brown said...

This is probably one of the most interesting posts I've read. It's very eerie how men just lurk about in the streets and make no effort to hide their creepiness. Most of them are paid by the police to be snitches and narks. When's the last time you saw a squad car patrolling the streets? In Agadir, there are none. There's no money to pay officers, buy vehicles, or pay for gas and insurance. Instead, they throw some coin at the unemployed "Gladys Kravitz" guys that have nothing better to do.

I myself was followed by several "Responsibles" as they are called and it actually forced/prompted my move to the beach house away from all of that drama. I mean, how ON EARTH could an American girl be living in Morocco alone without being a journalist?! It's ridiculous how much we are watched.

You are more obvious because of your street clothes and visible white skin. You saw how I dress when we met for lunch. In more conservative Agadir, I blend right in..yet STILL get the stares, points and whispers.

Thanks for the great read. I can definitely relate. :)

Janine said...

I think you have a right to be paranoid. I know every now and then it hits me - especially the blog thing. When I run into someone and they say 'I know you - you write that blog...' I never know how I should react apart from shocked / stunned. Even though everything I put up there I do so with conscious thought.

Thanks for telling up more about where you have been staying - it was very interesting to read.


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