After Thanksgiving festivities in Rabat I was up and out the very next morning, determined to make it back the eight and a half hours to Ouarzazate so I could have the evening and next morning to rest and organize my thoughts before beginning the life skills and leadership program I’m piloting at the local university.
Because I had a train to catch, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast. I figured I’d arrive four hours later in Marrakech and then grab some junk for the following four hour bus ride from Marrakech to Oz. I downed the rest of the soda I hadn’t finished the night before, ate two leftover sugar cookies, and finally headed to the train station where I bought my ticket and a bottle of water, and set off on the train south.
Well, after buying my ticket I only had seven dirhams left in my pocket, so I figured I’d need to go to the ATM as well. It would be tight to manage that and buy food, and make it on the bus in the span of fifteen or twenty minutes, but so long as the train arrived on time, I’d probably be okay.
As I write this, I think retrospectively how cute it is that after 21 months here I still think that there is a possibility that any train in this country will arrive on time. So, needless to say, the train did not arrive on time. I did not have time to go to the ATM and then buy something to eat. I had just enough time to run and catch the bus just as it was pulling out of the station. My last seven dirhams I wouldn’t be able to spend on some peanuts at a rest stop, because I needed at least six dirhams to take a taxi from the bus station in Ouarzazate to my house.
So when I finally made it to Ouarzazate, and grabbed a cab to the city center, only to realize too late that I’d left in the back of the cab my purse with my passport, credit cards, Moroccan ID card, and the pearl earrings my mother gave me, I was tired, physically fatigued, and starving.
I stood there in the spot where the cab dropped me off willing the passenger that was sitting next to me to see the purse and tell the driver to turn around. I stood there for at least twenty minutes going over and over in my head the sequence of events that got me to my current situation, and what I was going to have to tell the people at the consulate when I went in to apply for my second passport in three months (The other was stolen in August. Check the blog archives for that post.).
Suddenly I was just so overcome with stress and emotion that I started crying. And that’s something I rarely do. I called my regional manager, and she suggested I go directly to the police station with a Moroccan I could trust. At this point it was 7:30pm and dark out. I called my landlord who is one of the sweetest men I know here. He was by my side in less than ten minutes. As we walked to the police station and I told him what happened he calmed me down telling me not to worry and that the cab driver was obliged to bring the purse to the police. In my head I agreed with him, and I was thankful that this had happened in my city, in Ouarzazate, where people are generally very honest, and not in Marrakech or Rabat where I would have just be S.O.L.
After we finished at the police station, Mohammed walked me back to my house and insisted that I take 500 dirhams from him since I didn’t have any money or ATM cards. I thanked him profusely, my heart brimming with gratitude for this man, and for the kindness and compassion that is so common among Moroccan people.
The next morning he called me and we went to the police station. Fortunately, the cab driver had found my purse, and given it to the police. I got my purse back fifteen hours or so later with everything inside. ALHAMDULLAH! Thanks be to god! I was so so so happy and thankful to Mohammed, the police, the cab driver, and everyone involved that I’d gotten my bag back, and that people had watched out for me and helped me when I needed it the most.
This is why I love Morocco. I know there are good people in the US, but they are few and far between, or sometimes just too busy and wrapped up in personal things to care about doing good for another just for the sake of doing it. That is rarely the case in Morocco, and I am so thankful and humbled by these people, and stories like mine that I hear from other volunteers.
I admire much about the Moroccan people, and I can’t say enough how lucky I am to be having this experience, especially in this country where I never expected to end up. I’m so fortunate, and appreciate each day.