The quest to obtain all of our paperwork to get married has begun. The list of paperwork is extensive and may not at all be exhaustive once we get to the judge. I planned to have a hard time but when reading about all of the things that you need I cam prepared with all of my documents. Not at all did I truly believe everything I read on the internet from others who have gotten married here in Morocco, I took their words of experience as some would take a grain of salt, somewhat serious but not really. I knew there would be some running around to do but let me say this. What I have read on the internet is not quite what I experienced, except the running around part. Yesterday we set off for Casablanca at 5:00 AM. Keep in mind we only live 2 hours away 177 KM. So I thought leaving this early was excessive since our appointment with the US Consulate was at 9:00 AM. Well needless to say I’m very glad we left when we did because finding the Consulate was very difficult. We had to stop and ask directions A LOT! Having GPS was great but once you got into Casablanca it was almost useless. We had a great drive but it didn’t turn to daylight until after 7 sometime and there was so much traffic that it was crazy. Once we got close to Casa I spied something that I had been reading about while still in the US. A major furniture store wanted to build just outside of Casa, however the government was having a hard time agreeing on terms with this company. BUT… finally Morocco has one… Yep you might have guessed it IKEA! How exciting, well I was at least, no one else in the car seemed to care but they were men so go figure.
Keep in mind Casablanca’s population compares to that of Los Angeles, so it’s a big city and the traffic is equal to that of Los Angeles. What it reminds me of is New York before they had the traffic light blocks in the intersection. Remember when you use to see traffic at a standstill in the movies, cars facing you T bone style with cabbies honking horns and people yelling in the center of intersections.. that is Casa.
I did take video of my adventures that I’m writing about but they will not upload here. You will find them on my facebook.
Along the way there were many people standing along the interstate as well as many people walking along the interstate. I found out they were walking to work or they were waiting for someone to pick them up. It was very interesting that people were standing on the interstate with children and then there were people selling things. I couldn’t imagine that happening in the US. Once we moved onto a main road from the “auto route”, traffic was equally as bad. We passed the same car twice so I know it was no mistake that it seems to be ok that women have their children in car seats in the front seat, if not this lady was breaking the law. The smell of auto exhaust was stifling, it was the first time I realized that the US did a good thing by putting vehicle emissions policies in place as well as anti littering policies. The architecture was beautiful in the city, much like Parisian architecture, but keep in mind this country was under French control until 1956 when the Monarchy was established. So there is very much a French influence here in the language and in the architecture.
As we made our way through the booming metropolis it was difficult finding our destination, the US Consulate. After stopping time after time to ask directions we finally landed on the street and in the vicinity of the consulate. Parking is a nightmare so we had to walk a long way. Finally as I approach the building you see the cattle guard rails surrounding the building and the Moroccan military guarding it. I get to the entrance at the edge of the building and have to go through security then to a lady who checks my appointment and my passport. I’m allowed to go in. When I get to the door there is a sign on the door and it read, “Caution heavy door, pull hard and watch your fingers”. Well it was like an iron gate. Every door in this place was heavy like this for a minute I thought I was in Ft. Knox. So you come to a small space big enough for two people and it’s the area for security. They checked everything and I mean everything. I turned in my cell phone, went through the detector. The guard had my watch and two of them examined it then they fingered through all of my paperwork. I was ushered up the small ramp and into another room. Every door opened with a buzz so you had to wait for that to open the doors. I saw the cashier and all of the people applying for a visa then I was motioned to go through two more doors and I finally spoke with the man to request my certified copies of my passport and my letter of approval. I took my unsigned paperwork to the cashier to pay my 1000 Dirhams or $100.00 USD then went back to the office and gave the man the receipt. Finally I was called up to take an oath. The oath was to validate I knew what the document I was requesting and that I was Julie Basey.
Once I got my three papers sealed with the US Consulate seal I asked for the bathroom because man I had to go. He told me the directions to the restroom and I went out the door. I turned to exit out the door he said and before I could get the door open someone had me by the arm saying no no no no. I tried to explain I needed to use the restroom and I could see it and the man told me… but no NO! They escorted me back to the security room took all of my belongings and asked me to have a seat. I’m thinking what the hell it’s just the bathroom. A lady came finally and escorted me to the restroom. She waited for me to do my business then searched the room after I walked out. She escorted me to security, they handed me my paperwork and phone then said you are free to go. Back through the doors I went and finally made my way to the street where Mbarek met me. After all of that I needed a cigarette and a coffee so we went across the street to a cafe and relaxed a bit. We needed to get out of Casablanca before everyone went to lunch as to avoid the extra traffic. So we meandered through the streets trying to find our way back to the auto route and alas we were on our way to Rabat. I’m telling you this trip to Casa was very interesting. I will say it’s not some place that I want to live, it is however the mecca for business here.
On the way to Rabat the country was absolutely beautiful. There were huge apartment complexes next to farms where animals were grazing, the ocean was very visible with the crashing waves and cargo ships. The waves were huge I’m sure this is a surfers paradise. If you know me at all you know I’m on the outlook for places to spend money and shop, I love to shop. I found an outlets mall, well actually 3 of them during this trip. Lucky me, poor Mbarek. LOL. So on the way I tried to take photos but I couldn’t get my camera quick enough to capture the things that I saw. There was a truck carrying a load of horses but it wasn’t an enclosed one. The horses had their heads sticking out the top of the bed of the truck but it was a very tall truck bed, I’m not sure how they got them up that high and I’m pretty sure this is not legal in the US. Well there’s many everyday things that I’ve seen that are not legal in the US. The DOT and OSHA would have a hay day with all of the things I’ve seen on the roadways here.
We finally made it to Rabat! This city is the most beautiful. I would recommend a visit to Rabat for any of you making your way to Morocco. It’s very clean but has the charm of an upper class city, the sky is beautiful and just the whole town is beautiful. We only live 45 minutes from Rabat so Mbarek and I will be there quite a bit. We are already planning a trip to spend the weekend, afterall it has an ocean front view. Two papers had to be obtained from Rabat and we weren’t really sure where we needed to go to get them so again we were stopping and asking directions. Finally we pull up on this crowded street and Mbarek jumps out and opens my door, we get out and approach this kind of house looking building. He walks me in the door and then tells me to get in line with the women. OKAY, women on one side and men on another, what the hell was this place. He was having a hard time explaining it to me but he told me to take my papers that we just got in Casa. I didn’t know what I was doing there and what I needed from there and no one spoke much English. To top it off they wouldn’t let Mbarek go in with me! Let’s say I was scared because all of the writing on the wall was in Arabic. I was looking for the French posters and papers on the wall so at least I could figure out what this place was but there was only one French sign and it listed the fees. It read, “20 Dirhams for Moroccans and 40 Dirhams for strangers”. OKAY. They ushered us through this house into a back court yard, obviously it was a waiting room but what I didn’t understand is they had us separated in the front of the house then we all sat together in the courtyard. Made no sense. After waiting and being ushered into another room Mbarek showed up and I was relieved. We then went up stairs where we waited for a place at the counter. We handed my paperwork to these two men and they looked at it then stamped it with a rubber stamp. Everything here is rubber stamp and lick and stick stamps. Nothing hardly is computerized. We then paid 80 Dirham or $8.00 and we were free to go. This was not the end. Across town we found the next place we had to go and it was a large government building. I entered the building and again hardly no one spoke English. This time I knew that I was requesting form #3. I filled out my paperwork and then was given a ticket saying to come back at 3:00 PM. This paper was a request to the Moroccan Government asking them to let me marry Mbarek. We waited, had lunch at the old fort wall, and by the way it was the best chicken panini I’ve ever had, then chilled out taking photos. Waited for 2 hours then back to this building to pick up my paperwork and pay the 10 Dirhams. Everything we’ve had done has cost money but it’s no different than any other country. I got yet another rubber stamp imprint and off I went. Now we are all set to have our documents translated into Arabic. it’s interesting that the documents we were given in Rabat are all in French so they have to be translated into Arabic so we can submit them to the Judge. I suppose they use two formal languages here in the government and not just on the street like I thought. After we were done we just wanted to go home. It was already 4:30 PM by now and getting back to Khemisset was all I wanted to do. We took the long way home and drove by the palace where the King lives. There were so many armed guards along the parameter that you obviously know the King lives there. One thing I really loved about Rabat and my trip to Casa was the Moroccan Flag. This flag is red with a green star in the center and it is everywhere. It’s just a very pretty crimson color and it looks like Christmas. Even along the interstate every few yards there is a flag or two. They must spend a fortune on flags.
For a capital city Morocco sure has is right. This place is amazing.
I sat back and relaxed on the way home just taking photos of the land and interesting things I could get in my lens. The last time I had traveled these roads it was dark and I was coming from the airport. There were two small cities that we went through and I do have video of one of them. I took my sweater off, rolled down the windows, took off my hijab and had my arm out all while listening to my rap music. We got home and we were exhausted. Hell I’m exhausted thinking about all of it and there is still more paperwork to go. If anyone reading is going to get married to a Moroccan and they are not Moroccan themselves hit me up I will help ya figure it all out.
*** My photos are taking so long to upload so I will add them as they upload.