It is Ramadan, and I needed a specialized item. We haggled and settled on the price of 50 dirham.
They both got in the cab with me, causing me a moment of consternation as that is not something that I am used to. What if they were Imperial Guard Al Qaeda. I kept my window rolled down in case these towel heads got any ideas …
And I mean that literally. Some of my US Marine buddies refer to Arabs in a derogatory manner with such terms, but they were wearing towels atop their heads, and for good reason. It’s a 120 degrees Fahrenheit outside and these towels are soaked with cold water which cools them throughout the day.
Muslims, following the rules of Ramadan are not allowed to drink during daylight hours. At least this way they aren’t getting completely dehydrated. And here’s the thing, I didn’t see one person breaking the Ramadan fast. I seriously wonder how many Americans would stand-up to a liquid fast in 120 degree weather, FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH, when most of them can’t even follow a fricking diet.
This takes a lot of willpower! Respect!
What’s more, these guys both know 5 languages each; Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and English, and one also knew German and the other Berber (a native Moroccon dialect) It blew my mind. People think I am a whiz kid in the States cause I speak Spanish, Italian, and understand Polish. In Morocco five languages is COMMON.
We turn the topic to politics. These two taxi drivers know more about what is going on in America than the average US Citizen. Let me sum up their political views which, by and large, the majority Moroccons I spoke with echoed.
First off, they really like Obama. They were really surprised that America elected a person of color, which demonstrated to them that America is actually much more tolerant than the radicals of Islam preach. Mainly they like him because Obama is much more likely to solve things diplomatically rather than through war, like George W Bush, who no one, in this region, likes.
As they simply put it, “Who gained anything from the Iraqi war. Many many Arabs died, many US troops as well, it sewed plentiful seeds of hatred, and cost everyone a lot of money.”
While I agreed with them, I had to play devils advocate. “At least Sadaam Hussein is no longer in power. At least, in theory, every Iraqi has a political say.”
Give them credit for momentarily considering my statement before responding, “Not even close to worth it.”
Is there anti-Semitism in Morocco? YES. But not from these guys, though they really dislike Israel because they “kill innocent Palestinians, and make life miserable for them.” They have no problem with Jewish people, just Israel.
Jews used to make up 25% of the Moroccon population, and though many emigrated to Israel, the King of Morocco, who I am told is generally respected and considered progressive, is actually courting Jews to return, as they, in the past, were the backbone of the economy.
The younger a person is in Morocco, the more likely they are to be Anti-Semitic. A theory another driver told me was that they see nothing but non-stop bad news coming out of that region, and the news in the Arab world rarely (if ever) portrays Israel in a positive light.
These guys are smart, these guys are intelligent, these guys are disciplined enough not to break the Ramadan fast in 120 degree weather, and they just spent a half hour each driving me around, educating me, making sure that I got the right adapter for $3 each! Against this backdrop, I don't see how Americans are able to complain about ANYTHING. We are incredibly fortunate to born in our great country.
We get back to the hotel, and they must have felt slightly guilty as they collected the agreed upon price, not sure if is right to overcharge an amicable guy like me. “You know, we had to get you there, it Ramadan, you would have paid a higher price at the electronics store without us—"
I’m not hearing any of this nonsense. It was worth EVERY PENNY. Here’s a tip.