Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Cat de Sejour: Part the Third

In this - the (hopefully) penultimate instalment of our heroes' quest for legal status in what most Moroccans deem to be 'the most beautiful country in the world' - we join our duo en route to the bank. The applications for their cartes de sejour have been dully filled out & filed with the proper authorities, and 24 hours must elapse before the temporary card will be ready. To the bank! To the bank! cries Cat in Rabat.

To resume:

I am admittedly a little uneasy that I have been relieved of my current carte de sejour by my Pleasant-looking Young Woman but am fair-to-middling confident that my bank card should be sufficient to exchange money. We head to the main downtown branch and approach the Very Nice Man behind the teller's window. I explain the purpose for my visit and, smiling a slightly goofy grin, pass him my bank card.

"Identification?" Very Nice Man asks.
I hand over my passport.
"Identification?" Very Nice Man asks.
I begin to take credit cards out of my wallet.
"Non," he responds (as I knew he would). "Carte de sejour."
I begin to explain that I have forgotten my card at home (a lie) but that as a valid carte de sejour was necessary to open an account at his place of employ (a truth) and that I hold a valid bank card (a half truth: it is a temporary card) to said place of employ, then surely -

None of this really comes as much of a surprise to me but, at the moment, it seemed worth a try. Mr. Cat in Rabat & I briefly consider conferring a new name upon Very Nice Man (which we do) and venturing along Mohammed V to have a shufti at the local independent bankers who line the street (which we don't), for we have had enough for one day; instead, we go in search for refreshments, distilled or brewed.


The clock records the passing of 24 hours and we find ourselves somewhat constricted by a very narrow window in which to grab a taxi, get ourselves downtown, pick up our temp
orary cards, and return to work. In truth, 2 hours (for such is our aperature), would normally be more than enough time but this is a Friday, and Friday afternoons are unlike other days (and not just because of its f,r,& i); it is, for lack of a better word, the day of congregation. Theoretically, all taxi drivers - like every other Moroccan - should be at mosque. Nonetheless, we hie ourselves to a visible and busy corner and await what we hope will be an imminent taxi - after all, what taxi driver with half a brain would give up a fare just because it's Friday? Surely Allah would understand. We certainly do.

Oddly, this particular Friday, all taxi drivers are at mosque. Or have been sucked through an astral vortex to the mothership where they will be whisked off to attend a taxi driver convention in Agadir.

Simply put, there are no taxis. Or, more accurately, very few taxis. Yeah! - there's one! No, it's full. Yeah! - there's one! No, it's empty but he does not stop. Repeat 14 times. We change our position, strategically selecting a yet more visible & if possible, busier corner. There's a taxi! No, it's full. Yeah! - there's one! No, it's empty but he does not stop. Repeat 18 times. It becomes our Friday mantra. Forty-five minutes elapses & all that we've accomplished is attracting other like-minded cab-seekers to our corner (our zero success rate apparently is not a deterent) and becoming a little churlish with each other. We briefly consider walking a few blocks to the petite taxi stand (which is ominously situated across from the mosque where apparently pretty much every cab driver in Rabat is currently cultivating his prayer bump), but with only an hour left in our lunch break, we have had enough for one day; instead, we go in search for refreshments, distilled or brewed.


The following Monday, we set out to replicate our Friday excursion but without all the failure. We successfully lasso the first taxi we see and are downtown within 10 minutes. Our Pleasant-looking Young Women are there and we are showered with greetings. Mr. Cat in Rabat's temporary card is awaiting him in "the Canadian file" (a much-fingered folder buried deep among other nationality-specific folders); mine is misplaced but -huzzah! - found in "the European file". This minor faux pas is clearly reflective of the Moroccan government's acknowledgement that, in a former incarnation, I was a crown head of Europe.

As we step outside, we take a peek at our papers. Hmmmm ... should we be concerned that they
have recorded Mr. Cat in Rabat's year of birth incorrectly? Is it worth going back to advise them of their error? We ruminate on this and decide that we'll take our chances with a slightly longer in the tooth Mr. CinR - any insistence on accuracy might work irrevocably to our disadvantage. But, in spite of the fact that today's experience has been surprisingly effortless, we have had enough for one day; instead, we go in search for refreshments, distilled or brewed.

Our permanent cards will be ready in a few weeks.

In sh'allah.

Yeah, right.

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