AmericanKabuki – Morocco Diary #3 – 2 January 2014

American-Kabuki-New-7-8-13-fBy American Kabuki January 2, 2014
They have a saying in Morocco, “Morocco was the first nation to recognize America when it became a nation. America promised to return the favor…and Morocco is still waiting.” A lot of truth in that. Morocco regained its independence from France in 1955, yet it remains largely forgotten by America. For a country as friendly as it is to the USA it doesn’t get a lot of American visitors. Moroccans are naturally friendly to Americans, but they don’t often see them here.
Caleb wants to create what he calls “Caleb’s House of Nerds”, a community of programmers who create great software and earn the rewards of their hard work. Heather also plans to create a unique community, blending in harmonic use of land, technology, agriculture, aquaculture, craftsmanship, and a possible alternative healing center. Let me emphasize the the word community, not a commune. This is not a repeat of the 1960s. It also hasn’t yet been built. Its very much about exchange of value – free enterprise if you will – and those who have talents that fit what needs to be done and good work ethic will find it an environment in which they can thrive. Heather and Caleb work extremely hard at what they do. They have a huge work ethic.
Regarding recent travel inquiries: We are getting a lot of inquiries from people wanting to come to Morocco and stay with us at Caleb’s villa. We frankly don’t have any room. Caleb and Heather have projects they are working on which are not complete, in fact they are very much in infancy. We have no facilities to house visitors (or feed them) at this time. Caleb’s villa serves as his working office. It cannot be the center of any sort of large gathering. There are no spare rooms. The situation here in the Tetouan area is quite a bit different than the special event that Heather arranged in May-June, which she designed so she could learn about us and we could learn about her and her life one on one.
OPAL Bob, Lisa, Brian and Nanako have decided to come visit next week. They are arranging their own housing situation. We didn’t know it was going to be another “OPAL TOUR” until yesterday when we saw it on their web site. Anyone coming here to participate in Bob and Lisa’s OPAL Morocco Tour need to make their own arrangements for housing. Caleb, Heather, or I can’t do that for you.
OPAL is not funded nor directed by Heather Ann Tucci-Jarraf. All credit for it belongs to those who created it and fund it. Lisa and Bob have amazing media skills, and Brian, well everyone loves Brian. I can’t even say Brian’s name without grinning. Nanako is a gifted event organizer.
Currency:
The Moroccan Dirham stays fairly stable against the Euro at about 10 to 1. The dollar is dropping against the Dirham, it was 8.7 to 1 dollar in June, and is now around 7.9 to 1 dollar currently. Nearest Airport: Nearest airport is Tangier.
Visa Requirements:
Americans, Canadians, and EU travelers can travel here without a visa for 90 days from the time of entry. That’s calendar days. Make sure your passport is current, if your passport is within 6 months of expiring you might not be admitted by customs. If its near expiration renew it. If you get close to expiring your visa, you will need to leave the country and travel to Spain or Gibralter for a day and then return or alternatively go to Ceuta, which is a small piece of land still under Spanish control near Tangier.
Taxis:
The taxi fare from Tangier to Martil/Tetouan/Cabo Negro/M’Diq area is about 700 Dirhams (roughly 70 euro) one way. Its about an hour and half trip by car. Local taxi drivers speak Spanish/Arabic/and some French. French is not as common here as in other parts of Morocco such as Tangier. A rare few local drivers speak English. Don’t expect them all to know English well, some know a few words, and of course they know cities and hotels. Spanish and Arabic are widely spoken in this region. In Morocco there are two types of taxis, the Grand Taxi which seats 6 passengers (almost always a Mercedes) and the Petite Taxi which seats 3 max by law. Petite taxis
Housing:
Martil and Tetouan have nice sections for apartments and houses and there are small hotels too. A small house will run from 5000-10,000 Dirhams (roughly 500-1000 euros) a month to rent in the off season. Martil has a nice beach front but its not really beach weather this time of year. Cabo Negro will be more expensive and does not have a market to buy food. There is a Club Med in Cabo Negro. M’Diq is another nice area but a bit more upscale and farther out.
Markets:
The food and clothing in the Souk in M’Diq is in my opinion, the best but the most expensive for taxi fares. The Martil Souk has really good fruits and veggies and they are mostly locally sourced and very flavorful. The local coffee shop bakes a type of bread called “um seman” which is like a thick flour tortilla crossed with a pita bread with layers like a crossant. We use them a lot at the house like tortillas, or heated with honey they are like a pancake. There is also an onion version that has caramelized onions in the middle but you have to eat those in a day or two as they do not keep as long as the plain ones. There is also a pancake like bread sold, that the locals call a crepe, but it tastes like a pancake and is thick an soft like a pancake. All it really needs is maple syrup. There is also a French style bakery with baguettes and other French style backed goods.
Meat markets here takes a little getting used to, there’s not the same level of sanitation found in North America, but then the meat here doesn’t sit in plastic wrap for 6 weeks growing bacteria either. So what appears as potentially not safe, was probably killed the same day you see it, and has had far less time to grow bacteria on in than in those plastic wrapped cuts at Safeway in the States. Muslim Halal food laws (something similar to Jewish Kosher food laws) also helps makes the meat quite safe. You can also get rotisserie chicken from certain restaurants to take home. Outside of every meat and fish market will be a few cats.
If you are worried about local water (we’ve had no problem) the best bottled mineral water here is Sidi Ali, it tastes really nice.
For western goods like Dorito chips, you have to go Marjan, which is kind of the Walmart of Morocco. There is a Marjan in Tetouan and every taxi knows how to get there. Its about a 70 Dirham cab fee from Martil to Marjan in Tetouan. Marjan also carries women’s personal products and has beer and wine, cheese, baking supplies plus towels, linens, heaters, pretty much everything you might need in a western style shopping venue and they do take debit/credit cards.
Alcohol is allowed in Morocco, but respect the locals sensibilities. Higher end restaurants and Discos will serve alcohol but most smaller restaurants do not. There are some excellent local coffee merchants, bakeries and specialty foods stores in Martil. Even more so in M’Diq. M’Diq has a large Souk and carries western name brand clothes and shoes. Fragrances in M’Diq are almost all knockoffs, some better than others. Tetouan is a large city with high rises and I haven’t really explored it much except for renting cars there. I am no expert on that city yet, but you will see it on the way into Martil from Tangier its on the main road into this region.
This is the off season here, weather has been warmer than usual but can be, like today, quite cool and sometimes wet and windy. Bring warm clothes.

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