Morocco, Land of Endless Hassles – part 1
by John Massaro
BEFORE I BEGIN TELLING YOU about Morocco, a country in its own league, let me wrap up my overall impressions of the Arab world, which encompasses a large chunk of the Middle East and stretches across the entire Mediterranean littoral of north Africa and deep into the Sahara Desert. If you’ve read my travelogue on Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt, you already have a good idea. Generally speaking, I don’t care for Arabs though neither do I feel any hostility towards them. I had plenty of sour experiences with them – Jordan in particular was a sore spot – but in Syria and Egypt the good experiences outnumbered the bad, and nowhere did things get out of hand. Arabs do tend to be more rude and unfriendly than most other people. They also tend to be unattractive. Their shops and businesses are often scruffy. I don’t like their weird music. Arabic is not a romantic language. The food isn’t bad but it’s not great either; I never had an exceptional meal in an Arab restaurant.
On the other hand, Arabs are not religious fanatics, and Islam is a tame religion compared to Judaism and Christianity. (Read the Old Testament sometime – or check out the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, pitting Catholics against Protestants, in central Europe.) Arabs are not terrorists. They don’t hate Americans. All of that is nothing but Jewish media bull, and if you believe it you need to get a life. Arab countries are safe to visit. I’ve walked lonely streets at night in Cairo, Amman and Damascus and never felt nervous. Of course, I’m basing my judgment on my own random experiences, and others who have spent time in the Arab world may see things differently – and I’d bet most would have a more favorable opinion.
Looking back, what aggravated me the most was the chronic petty dishonesty, which I’ve talked about, and will talk about some more. It seems to be instinctive in these people, and I’m not the only one who feels that way. Years ago I read The Fearful Void by a British adventurer, Geoffrey Moorhouse, who tried to become the first man to walk across the Sahara Desert west to east, from the Atlantic coast to the Nile River, a distance of 3600 miles, using local guides and camels to carry supplies. It was a journey of unimaginable difficulty and danger. I recall one passage where Moorhouse expressed his exasperation with his Mauritanian guides’ constant lies and deceptions, including situations where a wrong decision, like locating a water source, could mean death. (Before setting off, Moorhouse had obtained the most detailed desert maps available and became fluent in Arabic. Exhausted and seriously ill, he quit at about the halfway point, in the small city of Tamanrasset, Algeria, in the heart of the Sahara, believing that if he continued he would surely die.) But again, Arabs – the ordinary people as well as their leaders – have gotten an unfair rap by the media mind benders.
To complete the picture, I’ll briefly touch upon the other three Arab countries I’ve visited, beginning with the United Arab Emirates, where in 2016 I stopped over for two days in Dubai, a bustling Mideast air hub. The U.A.E. is a special case. It’s a small, artificial country with little real Arab culture but with vast petroleum reserves, much like the nearby tiny sovereign nations of Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. There are a lot of expatriate manual workers there, mostly from Mideast and Asian countries. Dubai is a strange, soulless place, like Las Vegas or Miami Beach, except that it’s wealthy beyond description, floating on oil. I took an hour-long bus tour of the city, and immaculate new buildings – homes, apartments, offices, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants – go on and on and on. It doesn’t seem to matter if business or occupancy is lacking. There’s so much money that nobody has to worry about anything except the oil fields going dry. It’s a tacky place with a cosmopolitan vibe; when I was there, the Beach Boys were scheduled to perform soon. Did you know that the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is in Dubai? I didn’t until I got there.
But the first Arab country I set foot in was Tunisia, in 1981, having arrived on an overnight passenger ferry from Sicily to begin a month-long, six-country trip by Land Rover across the Sahara, and on down through west Africa. I had booked this with a British outfit; it was something much too ambitious to do independently. I had five days on my own before that memorable journey began in the capital city of Tunis, which some generously refer to as “the Paris of North Africa.” Tunisia was okay, nothing special. In passing I’ll tell you about one unforgettable incident. While sitting on a bench on a pleasant, tree-lined boulevard, minding my own business and reading the International Herald Tribune, a boy sat down next to me and asked me, in French, if I wanted to have sex with him. It took me a few seconds to translate and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When he persisted, I threw the newspaper to the ground and shouted, “Goddamnit, GET OUTTA HERE!” which he did. That was a unique experience, though in my travels I’ve been offered the same by adults of both sexes several times.
As for Algeria (which, like Mauritania, shares a border with Morocco, and like these three countries and Tunisia, and other African countries besides, is a former French colony), I had minimal contact with the people, partly because it was an organized trip with the two driver/leaders handling everyday affairs, and also because we had entered this huge country at a remote border post with Tunisia, far from the densely populated coastal area, and things just got remoter and remoter as we worked our way south. Stopping in towns like El Golea and In Salah, I remember looking upon the people who languished there as human tumbleweeds living out their meaningless lives, as lifeless as rocks sticking out of the sand. What an existence. The road was terrible all the way to Tamanrasset, beyond which it ended and we just followed tire tracks in the sand, with 55-gallon drum beacons – weighed down with rocks to prevent them from being blown away in sandstorms – spaced about a mile apart, all the way to the border with Niger (correct pronunciation: nee-ZHAIR) and beyond. Assamaka, an old French fort just inside Niger, is the most remote border post to earn a stamp in my passport.
But here’s a question for you: How do you define Arabs, beyond the superficial fact that they all speak Arabic? Are they a distinct race? Not at all. If you look into genetic markers you’ll find all kinds of fun facts, one being that Arab genotypes vary from country to country, meaning, for example, that they have different susceptibilities to certain diseases. Quite a few – Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his attractive wife Asma, for example – could easily pass for Mediterranean Whites. Most can’t, however, being too darkly complected of various melanin levels, and it’s not rare to see full-blooded Negro citizens in Arab countries. We can speak of Hamites, Berbers, Tuaregs, what have you, whose skin may be a shade of mahogany but who have strikingly Caucasian faces. In centuries past, some of these people were called Moors. But are they Arabs? It depends on who you ask. There seems to be no general consensus, and no geographical line separating Arab from Negro in the belt that stretches across Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan, where tan blends into brown which blends into black, north to south, though by no means uniformly. You’d be horrified if your sister were to get married here, but in its own way it’s a fascinating racial zone, not to mention incredibly exotic. Agadez, Niger has to be the most captivating town I’ve ever seen. Yet from what I’ve read, there’s still a simmering Negro resentment towards the Arabs throughout this entire region, going back to the days of slavery (which apparently still exists in parts of Mauritania), even though there’s been a good deal of intermarriage. It’s all very confusing. I’ll wind up this aimless discussion by stating that, to my eye, the Arabs are in large part a mishmash of peoples.
I got off on this tangent because I’ve always wondered if Morocco accidentally ended up with the worst batch of genes in the Arab world. This country, which occupies the northwestern edge of the African continent, is the furthest western outpost of that world and of Islam. There’s really something special about Morocco. It’s easily the most hassling country I’ve ever been to, and of the eight Arab countries I’ve visited, the only one that scared me a few times. The reason you never hear anything about it is because King Hassan, a brutal man who ruled the country from 1961 to his death in 1999, was always a friend of Israel, as is his billionaire son who succeeded him, the current king Mohammed VI, both despised as snakes in much of the Arab world. Even had they been anti-Zionist, the country is too far away to have any real influence. That said, Morocco is very exotic and absolutely worth visiting, though you have to be careful.
What is it about Moroccan men? I met an English guy, at a different time and place, who told me he had a minor argument there which ended with the empty threat, “I stick my finger in your eye.” Much more seriously, during World War Two, Moroccan troops were imported into Italy by their French overlords, and in May 1944 went on a mass raping spree in the town of Monte Cassino. Some 2000 women were assaulted. Several men and women were also murdered, some tortured as well. Arab men are not noted for their chivalry around White women, but I’m unaware of any other crime of this magnitude in war or peace. This brings to mind another tragic story. In December 2018, two young Scandinavian women were trekking through remote Berber villages in the High Atlas Mountains. Pitching their tent in the wilderness, they were seen by three men who, it was reported, probably falsely, were Islamic extremists. The women were attacked and beheaded, and it seems one of the killers posted a video of the grisly murders on the internet. Actually, this was an extremely isolated incident, and while other foreign visitors may have been murdered in Morocco, I don’t know of any. In fact, despite the frequency of tourists being hassled by belligerent young men, I never heard of any violent crimes there, though it’s probably happened. In any event, the three beasts were apprehended with the help of information supplied by local villagers, and the following year they were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.
As atypical as this double murder was, my advice to women, other than real risk takers, is to avoid solo travel to all Arab countries. Not that I think it’s unsafe per se, but because White women are guaranteed to get a lot of unwanted attention. In the minds of most Arab men, the fact that you don’t have a husband or boyfriend with you means that you’re loose and available. Enough said.
(to be continued)
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Source: End the Shots