Dear Morocco…

I’ve been enjoying many things while visiting you. Your landscapes are beautiful and varied, the food fantastic, and the sun is so very welcome in winter. Your talents are multiple: hand made baskets, rugs, jewelry, shoes, music, football! Your people have wonderful, warm smiles. Your mountains are austere giants and your deserts full of unexpected life and beauty.

There are some things I’d like to talk to you about, though, and it’s hard to know where to start. I think my first issue is that you waste your resources, both human and material. I know you’re working on that, and that kids have better access to schools than before. However, there’s still a lot of people who are left out of the loop. Some have studied but cannot find a job, others try and try to start up a business but can’t find investors. Some of your families have problems with alcohol. It’s normally forbidden to drink so when folks do, it’s a furtive drink-by-yourself thing instead of social; others use drugs to pass the time since they don’t have jobs to occupy themselves elsewhere. You can do better than this. Your people are worth more than that.

As far as material goes, you have sun sun sun all year round in so many places, but there are so few solar panels. There’s plastic everywhere; go to any town and the fields around are filled with plastic as far as the eye can see. Your silver and cobalt mines fill the pockets of people who live far away from the slag heaps that are left for the locals to deal with. You don’t take care of what you have, and you don’t respect your own lands. You build things everywhere but very often build them badly. It’s rare to find a staircase with even steps, or a terrace without lumps or broken tiles in it, or an electrical outlet that doesn’t hang out from the wall. You can do better than this, too. Your land is worth more respect.

The last thing I’d like to mention is just for information, because I don’t know if there’s much you can do about it at the moment, but it would be nice to give us tourists a break sometimes. Not every every every every single thing has to be a battle of wills to have a reasonable price. It’s the same price here as most other European countries, but not because it actually is, but because the game is to milk us cash cows all the time. There’s never, ever, ever a break. Every bottle of water, every piece of fruit, every packet of tissue paper, every haircut, every loaf of bread, every pot of tea, everything is overpriced and requires bargaining, and we never arrive anywhere close to what the locals might pay. It’s okay to pay more than the locals (we are also here to help out with the local economy) but for many things, you’d like us to pay much more than we do at home, and to buy things all the time. There are only so many rugs one person can use in a lifetime. The only thing to be done about this is to offer more opportunities for people than just working in tourism. Maybe making the entire country into an oversized shopping mall is not a reasonable long term strategy.

For the moment, my feeling is that I never want to come back here. It hurts too much. It hurts to meet some of the gentlest, kindest people I’ve ever come across in my life, and to know that you don’t give one whit about them. It hurts to see plastic bottles all over your deserts and polluting your streams. It hurts to go outside from wherever I’m staying and be set upon by kids asking for money.

We stayed near a school last night, dear Morocco, with 120 boys and 40 girls. Why aren’t there 80 boys and 80 girls, my friend? What are those girls doing instead of going to school?

Today I saw a puppy, cute like all puppies, out digging in the trash, abandoned. I had to not see it. I don’t want to be anywhere where that’s what I have to do.

So I may never come back. You ask too much and you give too back too little, not just to us tourists but to your own people and your own lands. I know that I’m not being very courageous here; maybe I should dig in a try to do something about it. But you can be kind of a jerk sometimes. If you were even slightly more reasonable about not gauging us every time we buy a fig, we might want to return.

I will enjoy some parts of my visit, but overall I’m just getting rather depressed, and that’s on you, dear Morocco.



Foro, blogging away

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