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...