Despite the fact that I’ve been in Morocco for 5 months now, I’m technically considered a tourist. Nevermind the 1-year lease I just signed on my apartment, I am still in the mindset that I’m a resident here. According to Moroccan Law, an American is allowed to visit for a period of up to 3 months. After the 3 months are up, the person must leave the country. Fine. Not a big deal. After my first 3 months, I dipped out and went to Spain for a few days. Upon entry back into Morocco, the customs official checked my passport and slammed down a fresh ink stamp onto it. Boom! Guess who just got another 3 months? Yep, me. Okay, well now my 2nd three months is about to be up and I really don’t feel like going anywhere. I’m happy here and I am just now feeling settled, secure, and satisfied. The good news is, I found a solution. A tourist can apply for an extension for another 3 months. Yessss. So I took the bus from Tamraght to Agadir to file the paperwork with the police…only to find out I need to go to the station in Tamraght. Excellent. I go to the policie station in Tamraght hoping to get the papers signed, filed, wham-bam thank you ma’am. Nope.
When I walked into the dusty, dirty, dimly-lit “station” I found it to be no more than the size of a bedroom with 2 adjoining “offices” aka closets. In the main room, I had to clear my throat extra loudly in order to wake the officers up. One was dozing in front of what appeared to be some type of computer and the other one was sleeping on the queen-sized bed in the corner. Yes, that’s right, a full-on bed for taking naps. So there he was with shoes and socks kicked off, bare feet dangling off the edge—the whole nine. After about 10 minutes of speaking in Arabic, I understood that I had to get all of my documents certified and copied officially with stamps, signatures and a whole lot of waiting in line at the administration office. Where? Oh in Agadir of course. As the Moroccans say, “Note pro-blim.”
So the next day (and about my 100th trip to and fro) I wandered on into the station. Again. This time, I had everything I needed and I was ready to go. Certified papers the size of a phone book, passport copies, extras, blah blah blah. So today I had an appointment to see the big boss. His office was something out of a movie. Smoke-stained yellow walls, stale air, and it was filled with furniture/equipment/paperwork from what seemed like some other era. Not bad. The demeanor of this guy was somewhat like the Godfather. After I handed him my folder full of papers, he tossed the folder on his desk, opened it up, and let his glasses slide down to the tip of his nose allowing his eyes to peer over the top edges. After 4 minutes of complete silence, he gradually reclined back in his thickly-cushioned 1950s office chair, the metal springs slowly creaking with each centimeter. With his Nike golf shirt untucked and glasses back in place, he stayed there for a while and eventually came back up to the upright position. He lit up a cigarette, propped both elbows on the desk and slowwwwwly exhaled his smoke into the air. I stood there watching as the smoke danced circles all around the room forming swirling snakes of gray around me. As I stood waiting for his answer, I wondered what was going to happen next. He smashed his cig into the ashtray and told me he’d have to send the papers to Agadir and then Rabat for the final approval. I only have 10 days left and the post office here is less than speedy. I could probably walk the papers there faster. Luckily, I can get a temporary paper to say that I’m waiting on the regular papers to get processed. For now, I think I’ll go to the beach and let the waves clear my head…and the smoke out of my hair.