Bumped in Africa, bumped in Morocco

Gürkan Genç tarafından 5 sene önce yayımlandı
15 dakikada okuyabilirsiniz

We arrived in Melilla a Spanish city on the north coast of Africa at 8:30 a.m. All the vehicles had left the vessel, so we were the last on board. We loaded the bags on our bicycles and as we were heading towards the port gate a policeman noticed my flag waving at the back of my bicycle and said:

–       This is here Spain!

I immediately replied:

– I’m also not Spanish, indeed Turk.

Idiot, as if I wouldn’t know where I am. The reason why this flag is waving is to let you know as which country’s citizen I’m visiting your country. Come and chat with me. Share your opinion, your memories if you have, about Turkey. If there is a city you want to visit in my country ask me, I’ll do my best to help you. I would try to arrange everything including your accommodation. Inform me about your country and the city you are living in. Invite me to your house if you have the opportunity. Offer me a traditional dish, introduce me your country. I’m coming from the other end of the world. Man, be my friend !!


For the time being, I had cycled 12 500 km through Asia and 20 000 km through Europe whereby I had passed  across 3 of the biggest deserts and 2 of the highest through road passes while cycling all the way up to the Arctic Circle. Well done so far. Now, Africa is in line. The desert Sahara can roughly be divided into two parts. I’ll enter the route of Western Sahara from a spot found on the south of Morocco which I’m presently cycling through (I know that there are very few adventurers who cycled through this region. So, why not just add a Turkish citizen). Then, I’ll continue to pedal along North Africa. Let’s start!

Melilla is a small town situated at the north-east of Morocco. Why are the Spanish keeping this small place as their own territory? It shouldn’t be just income due to ferry transports. Furthermore, the whole city is secured by fence.  Actually, as one who traveled through whole Europe, the reason seems to me very simple. All the cities having regular ferry services from Morocco to Spain are under the control of Spain. There aren’t also any industrial structures or agricultural land in these cities. These were the ports from which the underground sources were shipped to Spain during colonial era. The present reason for their existence is to constitute a buffer zone for immigrants. Spanish government had stated to control the immigration to Spain if it is to happen. While an EU member country  can claim land in another country’s territory in Africa, EU released an article stating “If we encounter any illegal immigrants from your country we’ll immediately take measure and send them back to your country” to the countries breaking their back for EU membership.  So what, should a buffer zone be established in all these countries : )

Let me take this issue from a different point of view.  Well, I was called Congregationalist because I held presentations in their schools. I was called fascist by some, Kemalist by the others or patriot by some others because I tried to understand and love Ataturk and take him as an example. I was called nationalist and extreme conservative because I’m carrying a flag with me waving at the back of my bicycle. I was called communist because I supported Russian and Chinese politics in some instances. I was called socialist because I was trying to do things by the sweat of my brow creating opportunities for others. I was called capitalist or a servant of capitalism because I have sponsors. I was called pagan because I was not praying. There are many other such epithets. I guess the readers of this article would know the others which I did not come to know. You can add those in the comments section. In fact, I was not upset being called such epithets indeed I was pleased, actually they are enriching me.

I was thinking about the Spanish politics of immigrants on the hill we had stopped for breakfast watching sun rise.  I’m not an expert in such issues and also do not have an education on this topic, I cannot make out such political intrigues. My field is communication. Communication with every living being! Therefore, my thoughts and opinions are based on social communication that is on the global community I’m involved in and on the basic researches I’m conducting on my own.

The countries powerful in agriculture determining the production politics influence the agricultural politics and as a result possess the land of the countries becoming a member of EU (For example, there is a vast land suitable for agriculture in Turkey. But, the attitude of mind, preferring to work at a resort hotel for living wage instead of farming for the same income, has not come aware of that issue yet).  Guess where latest models of Mercedes, Audi, Porsche or BMW cars are heavily used in Germany? Or in whose garages are they found? In town’s people? No no no no… In villages. Dude, farmers are driving those cars. Oh! Wait! This was a topic of another subject, don’t let me mix up. My brain and eyes have been witnessing so many things. Well, I sometimes find myself behaving just like an engine especially when unspoiled pure knowledge is supported with images…

While the wealthy part of Europe short of land move to countries with spare land, young people in the latest member countries dream for new job opportunities, free movement rights, borderless travel, a life in the heart of civilization…. Fuck it. Oh, how well! While dreaming for having new job opportunities, traveling without visas….. (Let me share a “f.. you” photo! Do not misunderstand me, I’m not saying that nobody’s dream come true, it might. Don’t let me write the afterwards at all. I need to find a couple more “f.. you” photos from my archive.  

Finns are on tenterhooks due to immigrants sharing their job opportunities. In many schools in Sweden you cannot see a single Swedish student! The same is also the case in Norway. So, what does the related politics look like? Assimilation. There are 5 million Turkish children living in Germany and the third generation hardly speaks Turkish at the 50th anniversary of the first immigration. Guess what will happen with the 4th or 5th generation? These are the results of 100 years old politics, tremendously detailed processes carried out with patience. The politicians work for creating a new immigrant generation calling themselves as a German, a Finn, a Norwegian instead of insisting to increase the birth rate. Clever. As the Africans I met in Paris calling themselves as French, everybody talking french as if their mother tongue in Morocco!

“How happy to call oneself as a Turk” This saying comes in my mind. I got the point of Ataturk being called the leader of the century from a different standpoint. How interesting : )

For a country’s survival, it is a must that a single nation is addressed within unity and solidarity by every ethnical group. While Europe is progressing in assimilation within legal frame, at the same time the social support for the people has increased to a maximal level during the last 50 years. The young generations of the immigrants are taking care of aging Europe. Native people benefitting from those social supports clam up. The immigrants working hard keep saying “my paid taxes are used for the benefit of non-working natives” but do not undertake any legal procedures. As time passes they get assimilated and call themselves as native. That is, all are pleased. How happy to call oneself as German. How happy to call oneself as French. How happy to call oneself as English. In fact, Ataturk put the idea and Europeans applied it by introducing assimilation politics. Well, it comes to me strange people saying “wow, you feel yourself as an human being in Europe. You live like a human in Europe” without taking this process into consideration. You may count how many heads the 300 years’ process of democracy had cost. Well, what had Ataturk in his mind? This will be another issues article! Don’t let me change the subject.

Being this the situation, in a country – where there are limited social supports, where governments cannot support unemployed people with high value compensations as apartment, land and salary, with low value social care quality – the increase of immigrants and their illegal employment instead of natives, that is turning a country into an immigrant country which is not ready for this process will mean pick a civil war among the different political minded groups. This is at least my opinion. Therefore, Spain having social benefits had established such a buffer zone to protect itself.

I as a person tolerating all those epithets will continue to follow world politics and global community as well as my own country’s foreign and internal politics. Maybe, one day I might possess the power to stop the wars, malnutrition and controversies and change the world, who knows?

 

Strolling around in the streets of Melilla you would either encounter Spanish soldiers or many police officers. Some streets have been prevented from entrance by means of huge steel doors. It is obvious that the two different cultures have conflict within this 8 km square city. While looking for the border gate to Morocco we cycled through several side streets at the skirts of the city. Poor people on the streets bagged for money and cigarettes in that early hours of morning. We just saluted and continued to cycle. There are three border gates in Melilla. If you are a tourist then turn your back to coast and head towards the gate on your left hand side. The other two gates were to be only for Spanish and Moroccans.

We came next to the border gate. Moroccans welcomed us with white papers in their hands just after we passed the Spanish side. Dude, we were given those papers while buying the ferry tickets. A small piece of paper to full fill the classical information as citizenship, employment etc. If we’ll stop to take those papers they’ll kiss us for sure. We continue to pedal, men running after us:

            – Passport, passport!

Dude, if I wouldn’t know they are going to fuck us up. Then, we came to the Moroccan check point. The officers took my passport and checked the pages. Well, almost on each page of my passport there is a visa or a stamp.

            – Your occupation?

            – Tourist

said I but they didn’t fall for

            – Alright, you are a tourist but what is your profession?

            – I’m a writer

            – Which newspaper or institution are you writing for?

            – I’m writing travel articles for my own home page and do not work for any institution.

After some time I managed to pass the control. Just immediately, a boy appeared next to me. He was begging for money and cigarettes. Then, another boy appeared just sticking on me. I started to talk loudly in Turkish which made them become silent. After Enes and Funda got also through passport control we all were happy to enter Morocco from Melilla. Dude, we were on Moroccan side but didn’t have any Dirhem, Moroccan currency. We couldn’t find any reliable person to exchange at the border gate and decided to find an ATM. Crossing the Moroccan side of the border, we found three ATM’s all of which were off duty. It is Sunday, dude, I wonder if the automates are closed on Sundays in this country.

The nearest city Nadar is 15 km ahead, yallah (Let’s get going.. in Arabic) to Nadar. The drives on the road horn some shouting “Turkey”. We arrived in Nadar. Wow, this city has a beautiful coastal band.  Also, there is a very nice pedestrian trail. Anyway, we saw Mc Donald’s and decided to enter to make an idea about the economical situation of this country. A Big Mac menu costs 53 dirhams, or 5 euro. Whoa! I was expecting to cost much cheaper. This means we’ll eat local the coming days in Morocco. Enes looks around for Wi-Fi which of course he doesn’t find. I would get surprised if there were any. But inside it is really sound, after resting for a while we cycle into the city.

 

Enes:

            –   Aha, this is here familiar as we got used to it, abi (elderly brother in Turkish).

Nobody cares traffic lights, everybody crosses the streets from anywhere. I was traveling for the last one and a half years in Europe, it will take time to become accustomed to Moroccan way. People are shouting and yelling, there are horn sounds continually, abundant odors arising through the Bazaar. We came to the right place, abi… Good to goooo!

Aha, a bank. I immediately went to the ATM and it worked.  We all drew money one by one from the ATM. We decided to stay one day in this city so that we can exchange our euros which we won’t need for the next days. Although we might have to turn back to Spain since there isn’t any overland road connection between Morocco and Algeria. There isn’t also any ferry from Morocco to Algeria. The situation is really complicated. You have to initially go to Spain in order to enter Algeria. This means that after traversing Western Sahara we have to return to this spot. Anyway dude, I’m not in a hurry. Also Enes will accompany me as long as possible. But we have to send Funda to Turkey from a point along the route which we have to clear first.

We stayed in Nadar Hotel in Nadar. It costs 60 Dirhem per person, 80 Dirhem for two and 120 Dirhem for three. Dude, we found a hotel room for two Big Mac menus and a Hamburger menu, how nice. This hotel was advised us by the Moroccan construction worker Mahmut with whom we shared our room on the ferry and chatted. We chatted in English with the guys although they kept saying “Forgive us, our English is not so good but we fluently speak French.” Anyway, we told that we want to share one room and handed our passports over. But, as they inspected Funda’s passport we were told that she could not stay with us. So, instead of only paying 120 Dirhem for a single room we had to pay 160 Dirhem for two rooms. Anyway, no matter. We were staying for only 40 TL in a hotel. I know some hostels in Sweden for 80 €.

Well, if you stay in a hotel for 40 TL the toilet will get choked up after defecation. “Enes use the toilet in Funda’s room this here got chocked up!” After an hour Funda came and said: “Enes you messed up the toilet in my room!” We got it, these toilets are made for single use. Not surprising for an indoor space for only 40 TL. Just use the bed and sleep : )

We left our belongings in the room and went out. First we need to find alcohol for Enes’ stove. Let’s see whether we’ll find alcohol in Morocco and bingo we found some in Bazaar. But the guys are selling 1 L of alcohol for 4€ in Nadar for which we paid only 2.5€ in Spain. If you wonder why I’m not using my stove, it got broken mate. The stove traveled with me for four years and passed away in Spain. Anyway, we didn’t buy that pricy alcohol hoping to find somewhere else. The next days we realized that alcohol which we could buy in any pharmacy in Spain was rare in this country. All to the good, a new fuel stove is waiting for me in Casablanca.

There are second hand or stolen mobile phone stands along the streets side by side. Enes ordered a new battery for his cell phone, although he is not sure which part of the phone is not working. He assumed that the battery was broken and ordered a new one. He couldn’t find LG nexus battery here. Meanwhile, we were looking at the second hand mobile phones. Dude, that guy gave a price of 80 Dirhem for an iPhone 5. We all were astonished. Is he saying 800 or 8000? We asked once more, 80 Dirhem. Well, Enes’s friends know that he is an electronic freak. Dude, he looks at the phone, not a fake phone. As the seller mentions that the I-cloud is not working, it turns out the cell phone is stolen. Buddy, it is 80 Dirhem not even 20 TL, just buy one. Hahha, dude, people would kill us if they would see us bargain with these prices. There are many other cell phones. The guy wanted 200 Dirhem for Samsung 4. Haha. Well, I don’t need a new one, mine is working. On top of it, I had paid 120 € for the repair of the broken screen in Barcelona. If I had only known the case here, I would buy a new one in this shop, dude. Haha. Not Enes nor Funda bought a cell phone on that day. Afterwards, they regreted but we were 500 km away from the city.

(This must be a photo shot by a cyclist. He eats first and then takes a photo : ))

We dined in a restaurant near our hotel. A whole fried chicken, rice, salad and three bottles of coca cola for only 2.5 Euro. Well, it seems that we’ll eat local till we pig out. : )

 

There is nothing worth for sightseeing in Nada nor around. I must admit that this radical cultural change has shocked me after cycling for the last one and a half year in Europe. I’ll come to myself and start to chat in a couple of days.. : ) Let’s see what Morocco looks like.

 

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