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Friday, 21 December 2012

Don't mess with the Moroccan police!

Moroccan policemen!

  After a week of being on the road, we were returning back to the Marrakesh. We booked into the same hotel we stayed in before , because we liked it so much. We had just been in the hotel room for over an hour relaxing, when there was a knock at the door. It was one of the hotel workers trying to explain to me in her best English, that the car window was left open and the police are waiting outside! The things that have happened to us on this trip, in some cases, is enough to make anyone go insane! And now I was getting the idea that the car had been stolen! Christ!! By rushing, I almost fell down the stairs into the main door that leads into the street, to be greeted by about ten locals at the entrance. With them I ran like the devil to where the car had been parked and as I turned the corner, to my relief, there it was! In the passage seat was the policeman dressed up in an plain green army uniform holding my video camera that he had taken out from under the drivers seat. Was I pleased to see him and a quick search of car revealed that nothing had been taken. Ildiko had left the window wide open and someone called the police as they didn't know whose car it was. When they discovered that it was someone from the hotel, they informed one of the workers.
  Understandable, the policeman asked for my documents. I returned to the room and felt like killing Ildiko! When I told her what had happened you know the first thing she said 'Was my best summer top still in the car!?'
  The policeman was waiting patently outside and I gave him my papers. He was tall, lean, in his sixties, had a truncheon on one side and a pistol on the other, and as it turned out, a one hell of a son of a bitch! He was happy that my documents were all in order and then he firmly grabbed my arm and took me away from everyone else. 'Where are you taking me?' He didn't answer. Something wasn't right here and I didn't like it. I started to struggle and was too strong for him and broke free and stepped aside. He broke it to this unfriendly smile and asked for cigarettes? OK, I'm in a strange country and I had to be careful here. I could see where this was leading and I didn't want any trouble. 'Ildiko, give me your cigarettes now?' For the first time, she didn't have any. I returned and told him that I'm sorry, but I ain't got any. He didn't like that and a gesture with his figures, he demanded me to give him money! What could I do? Yeah, I'll give yeah money, I thought, and went and got 20 dirham and he ain't getting anymore. That's 2 pound, but fags here cost 32 dirham. I was really getting pissed off with this prat and holding it to his face in my hand I said 'Here you go'. His face turned nasty and he said more!! I ain't taking no shit from anyone, especially you and I stood my ground and simply said 'Take or leave it!' I had no idea what he was going to do next, but one thing I did know, is what he was doing, was wrong! There was a pause for a minute and then he snatched the note out of my hand and  marched off down the narrow street like he had thrown his dummy out of his pram! Assole!. I felt good and as I turned, there was the guy that I was told called the police. I walked up to him and shaking his hand I told him to take the money that I was offering him.
  I returned to the hotel room and told Ildiko of everything that had just happened. You know what her answer was this time 'Well, I would of been OK if you were taken away, because I've got the tickets to get home!'  Doesn't anyone care what happens to me in a strange country?
  I thought the police were here to help you, not corrupt, ling and deceiving. Hang on a minute, this is starting to sound like the UK!

A Crossbill trapped in a cage

Me showing the kids how to play football in the back streets...

..And then looking for a shop that sells footballs, because I kicked theirs over into someones garden! I was wearing my hiking boots at the time!
Marrakesh streets. Note the White Stork on tp of a pillar to the left

Slippers all over the shop four bottom images by Ildiko Solymosi
 We had our last walk around the Marrakesh markets and as we approached the main market, we could hear a guy in a high-pitched voice, shouting and screaming. There were 30-40 people gathered around the middle aged man and what we observed was that he was being harassed by four policemen. We had no idea what was going on, but we got the idea by their behaviour, it was wrong!
  We decided to eat at a cafe that overlooks the street outside. The avocado juice was amazing! We had just got stuck into our meal, when out of the blue, this young guy with blood covering his face, looking dazed, fell onto our table! Unbelievable! What else is going to happen to us before we leave the country tomorrow? The waiter was finding it hard to get him to move on. I offered to help, but this man came along in a black uniform and took him away. All the time while we were eating, we couldn't help but notice children aged between 5-8 staring at our food. They were homeless kids and when we finished and told them to come over and take the food. They did and scoffed the whole lot down while walking away! I guess unfortunately, they have to be quick before it's grabbed out of their hands by other older homeless kids. Pretty sad to see, but there were a lot of sad situations, similar to this, that we noticed in most parts of Morocco that we visited. When we stopped in a town or at the side of the road in the countryside, poor kids would come running to the car asking for money. After a few times of this happening, we always had fruit in the car and gave it to the kids, as well as biscuits and chocolate. In the end, we gave them whatever we had with us, because we can get it anytime and they can't! Each time we did it, it was a good feeling when you observed the men, also at the side of the road, thanking us.

And here's an example of giving food to the kids. These two little girls saw us approaching in the car and came running down the hill, ahead of their father, hoping to catch us. I was too fast and went passed them. However, I quickly put it to reverse and Ildiko spoke to them. She gave them a large bar of my favourite chocolate, yes well, and also banana, in the fathers hand, and oranges. They were so pleased and went on to look after their goats in the hills.

This guy gets the idea that how cool he looks with the Moroccan flag on a pole the lengh of Merrakesh! He wont be so cool when he crashes and wished he had put the helmet on that is in between the handlebars!

This is the norm in Marrakesh. A father, son, maybe 4, at the front and his daughter, 5 or 6, holding on at the back and to top it all, he's texting! So who steering the scooter? No helmets again!

One way of taking your doors home!

100's of scooters, but not one helmet in sight!

They should have these signs everywhere in Marrakesh! No, all over Morocco, especially bloody Merzouga!

Doors and windows images by Ildiko Solymosi

Mid-afternoon and some 50 White Stork started gathering in the hot sun

I managed to see a few male Moussier's Redstart. This one showed superbly in front of me, however, as you can see, not for the camera.

White-crowed Black Wheatear were everywhere

Good numbers of Grag Martins. Other birds of note included, Wryneck, Cirl bunting, Osprey and Redstart. The rarest bird of the non-birding trip was a Brambling!


  1. Hi Spider
    If the guy on the moped gets too hot he can just open the door and let a little fresh air in !

    Sorry but the old ones are still the best. :-)

  2. Hi Chris, great read, hilarious and just typical. I remember my first time there (been 3 x now) though its only 20 miles further than Spain so must be OK, at the end of the day its a third world county. Your experiences with the Police are typical too. Can be helpful but an eye on whats in it for them. I'm planning on going back I like it so much now the secret is to take from it what you like and ignore the bits you dont. Great blog, cheers and regards Dave.