Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tales from Tangier, Morocco

Not that I need to really mention it AGAIN, but my darling fiance Dan is currently living in England while we wait for our visa to come through so he can come to the States and we can get hitched. Tie the knot. Jump the broom. Take the plunge. Buy the cow.

Ohhh - that last one hurt. Do people really say that?

Anyway, while he has been over there he, also working in the craziness that is the film industry, has been working on some films, commercials and whatever other odd industry gig that has come his way.

About a week ago he got a call from an old film connection he has and was asked if he would be interested in helping to drive a crap load of film equipment to a set in Morocco. Despite the obvious straying from his usual Assistant Director work, Dan is never one to turn down a job and he of course said yes. The job, he was told, consisted of driving a Land Rover packed with equipment from London to a ferry that would take him to Spain. He then would drive South across Spain, get on another ferry to Morocco, drop off the equipment and fly back to London.


You can see in the above picture a general idea of his route. Aren't you impressed with my photoshop elements work? Damn, I'm good :) All in all, he was excited to drive across Spain and check "Africa" off the ever growing list of continents he has been to. Easy as pie. Right?

Hmmmm...maybe not so much.

All was going great until they had to get the cars and trucks off the ferry in Tangier, Morocco and cleared through customs. As it turns out, the "government" officials who patrol the docks are about as corrupt as it comes and my poor baby, as well as the rest of the crew, were subjected to an environment where bribery is law. They had been warned about this situation and luckily had stacks of Euros ready to hand out, but they did not anticipate the intensity of the situation.

The entire group had to leave the convoy of cars, trucks and film equipment at the docks overnight, which was fine. They all took their valuables with them to a hotel with the plan of returning this morning to retrieve the cars complete with a stamp of approval from the customs "officials".

Anxious to get the film equipment to the movie set ASAP, they arrived at the docks bright and early. They were told to not wear any jewelry, bring any cell phones, wallets or anything of value that could be seen as potential collateral for their equipment. Despite these measures, trouble started as soon as they arrived. The port guards wanted bribes for EVERYTHING from getting papers out of a bag to yawning. The man in charge of the film crew refused to pay and just started demanding the cars/trucks.

Now, I don't really know exactly what went down from this point because I don't think Dan wanted to freak me out any more than I already was upon hearing this at 7am this morning and thus omitted some details, but one of the dock guards got so mad that they were not getting their bribes that a knife was pulled on my fiance and his crew. There were also other "government officials" threatening to throw bricks at them.

HAD I BEEN THERE, I WOULD HAVE PEED IN MY PANTS AT THIS MOMENT. I'm not even joking - I would have.

Luckily, the head of the film crew had dealt with these guys before and was able to successfully defuse the situation and get the gear back. When I spoke to Dan via Skype this morning, it was 3:30pm his time and they had just gotten back safely. He tried to act like it wasn't a big deal as I blurted out a continual stream of, "OH MY GOSH YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF THERE NOW DON'T LEAVE THE HOTEL DON'T GO ANYWHERE I LOVE YOU WHEN ARE YOU FLYING BACK TO LONDON CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME IT'S NOW???!!?!?!?!!"

Thankfully they head back to London tomorrow and all seems to be well now. The movie set has their equipment. The guys all seem to be fine. Nothing was stolen and they avoided paying the massive bribes. HOWEVER - I HATE THINKING ABOUT HIM IN THAT SITUATION AND I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL HE IS OUTTA THERE.

***Quick disclaimer - I do not in any way want to offend the people of Morocco. The experience above was directly related to the corruption of the dock guards. That is all. Thank you.***

Thankfully he is safe and all is well. There were also two other things that he saw which I found particularly interesting:

1) Cars and trucks with DIY cages on the top made of wire holding goats. Goats. Goats in cages on the top of cars. While the cars are moving.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

2) On the opposite side of the customs, massive semi-trucks (called a 'Lorry' in England) get BACK ON the ferries to return to Europe. Very young children stand along the line of vehicles and when they see a chance, these children will try to run under the massive trucks and hide up in the inner workings of the trucks near the wheels as a way to get into Europe. So, so sad.

Anyway - sorry about the length of this post. It was just something that I felt was worth sharing for a variety of reasons. Dan is chalking it up to a life experience. I am just glad that he is okay - but however you look at it, it is surely a glimpse into a world that many of us do not know.

This whole thing has made me even more excited to be in his arms in exactly 9 days and counting.

Cheers everyone and give your loved ones an extra squeeze when you see them next :)

9 comments:

  1. WHOA MOMMA, holy crap I just speed read till I found out he was ok....I am soooo glad he is safe I can only imagine how hard it was for you to hear him telling you all that..I got a not once from John in Iraq detailing a IED attack on his convoy...I am so glad you will be together really soon!

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  2. wow! glad your man is alright and what an exciting story to tell the kiddos one day!!

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  3. Not only foreigners get this special treatment but emigrated Moroccans, who go visit their families and the country, complain about these dock/border guards too.
    The knife & brick part is very scary, though. That would be my first and last trip to Morocco, for sure.

    But in nine days you will see each other again. YEAH!!!

    ps. Did Dan buy a goat (as a bride's dowry) for you?

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  4. Interesting read for someone who's been off the North American continent (me). Havingb been though that once, do you think he'll ever go back?

    minor nitpicks: it's "defuse" as in "take the fuse out so the bomb doesn't blow up" instead of "diffuse", and "lorry" for "truck".

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  5. s/b NEVER been off the North...

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  6. Thanks for the spelling corrections ding! I despise typos and mistakes, but alas, they get the best of me :)

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  7. Oh girl. that is crazy! I nearly peed in my pants just reading it. No joke.

    What a story. Glad he's safe, and glad you are heading his direction soon.

    Have a good weekend.
    Sasha

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  8. Holy Jeebus. And this is why I am scared of Africa, but I really want to go. I am so glad he's ok!

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  9. Yikes! That is scary but good that your man candy is level headed! I would have wigged out!

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