392: Overwhelmed

HOW COME, in my life, that I cannot have just one part of it go to hell at a time? I can cope if work goes to crap, if the other parts are chugging along OK. I can manage if my family life takes a nosedive, if the other parts are OK. I can make it if the money runs out, so long as  the other stuff is fine. I can deal if my relationships go south, as long as the other parts of my life are running along smoothly. As long as it is only one part at a time, even if it is a significant part, I can handle it. I don’t like it, but I can cope.

WHY, oh, WHY, is it that it never happens that way? When one of those life compartments falls completely apart, all the other parts promptly get jealous about the attention it is getting, and like three-year old toddlers, throw a tantrum and go straight into the crapper as well. It is like your car – it KNOWS when you have an extra hundred dollars in the bank, and it will fall apart to get it. Every time. NEVER congratulate yourself that you have almost made it to the next payday and you still have a couple hundred bucks left…wheeze, gasp, rattle, bang, CLUNK. Oh, crap.

And GOD forbid you make the last payment on the credit card that pays the damn thing off………you will break a tooth, a leg, get pregnant (or get someone ELSE pregnant), the washer will die, a pipe will burst and flood the house, you will find termites, your kid will need an appendectomy or tonsillectomy (or BOTH)……………something will happen to blow that proud accomplishment all to pieces. I guaran-damn-tee it.

It is a good thing that God loves us. Just THINK how much worse it would be if the devil was in charge!



312: Euthanasia

I am stranded in the Orlando airport, a full day after I was supposed to already be on the ground in Panama.  I was refused boarding by American Airlines because they decided I did not have sufficient documentation for my cats to fly: after telling me that they could not fly because their kennels were too big (not) and that they could not fly because the temperatures on this early morning flight would exceed 85 degrees F at their destination (Panama) where they will be living for the next two years.

See, you have to have a veterinarian health certificate (done), within ten days of the scheduled flight (done), authenticated by an office of the USDA (done), and then apostiled by EITHER the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy (in Washington, D. C.) OR the Foreign Office in your state, Georgia (done). Then, you have to e-mail these scanned documents to the Panama Embassy in Panama to let them know the cats are coming (done) three days in advance in order to request that they have home quarantine (done). Oh, heck, no. American Airlines said that I needed additional documentation from the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy that the cats were good to fly. One eensy-weensy little problem: the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy does not provide any such certification, which would essentially be clearing the cats through their customs even before we board a flight to get there to submit ourselves to their customs. Not happening – either on the Panama side or on the American side.

I looked into renting yet ANOTHER car to drive to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, so that I could have my existing paperwork apostiled in Florida, like I already had it apostiled in Georgia, but I don’t have enough room on my credit card, since another rental car company (rentalcars.com) refused to refund my pre-paid rental online when the pickup was refused in Orlando because I have a USA driver’s license, meaning I had to rent another car for 600 dollars cash (plus the 400 dollars they would not refund). Because of this, there is not room on my card to book another car, and they won’t book a one-day rental for cash, even though they were perfectly willing to book an eleven-day rental for cash. Obviously, if I can’t afford to rent a car, I also can’t just bypass American Airlines and book tickets on another carrier, either. I thought of that, too.

It does not matter anyway, because even if I went to Tallahassee to get this Florida apostile, since I am departing from a Florida airport instead of a Georgia airport, I would still only have a STATE apostiled health certificate for my cats (like I have now), not a PANAMANIAN apostiled document, which is what American Airlines is demanding.

I have one option left. I do have enough money to book a cab to the nearest veterinarian, and I can ask that my three beloved pets be euthanized. I cannot just turn them loose to scrounge a living on their own in Orlando, and I won’t take them to the animal shelter, because that is where adult cats are most often euthanized anyway: kittens get adopted, not adult cats. I am out of options, and I am already a day late getting to Panama for my new job – which I have to have. I’ve already notified them that I will be late reporting to work, and I can’t take much more time. I am not independently wealthy such that I don’t HAVE to work. I am already in tears as I write this, and I have been in tears on and off for the last thirty-six hours. I’m out of ideas. I did my best, and it was not good enough.

Meanwhile, I am here in the airport, sleeping on a bench with three cats in small crates who need to be walked and relieved every few hours, fed and watered. The wifi works here only on the third floor, and I have to go to the first floor (with them and all my luggage for two years’ stay) to take them outside to pee. And every few minutes, an announcement is made at this airport not to leave your luggage unattended. I am here alone – I have to pee sometimes, too. Oh, well.

And people wonder why I left America.

244: Just ONE more paper……

Retirement life - I hope!

Retirement life – I hope!

Morocco is a truly great place to live and work. Truly. ESPECIALLY if you do not have to get anything done legally or professionally. If you just go to work and live your life, things are GREAT here. It has one of the least expensive standards of living that I know of. You can literally live here on 350 US dollars per month, including rent. I am not kidding. I will probably return here to retire, because I can actually afford to live here, fairly well, on my puny little teacher’s retirement pension. Well – not HERE, where I am living at the moment,. because Azrou and Ifrane are on the top of Middle Atlas Mountains. That means, folks, that it is far too cold here for a south Georgia (USA) native. I will return to Morocco and retire here a good bit further south than where I am now – somewhere outside of Agadir, which is twelve hours’ drive south of here, and on Morocco’s Atlantic seacoast. Now, there is a retirement haven!

The only real glitch to living and working in Morocco is when you need to get any paperwork done. O.H. M.Y. G.O.D. See – Morocco was for decades a French possession. It is still the second most often spoken language here, after Moroccan Arabic. The French are absolutely legendary for bureaucracy. They INVENTED it. And they have thoroughly infected Morocco with it. You would not BELIEVE the hassles of getting A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G legal done here. It took my husband six months to register our little plastic car – and multiple trips to Meknes (one hour’s drive away) and Azrou (twenty minutes’ drive away) before he could get it done. Multiple, multiple trips. Every time he would go, they would look at his stack of paperwork, and tell him: you need one more paper – and they did this repeatedly – one more paper at a time. They would not tell him all the papers he needed at once, it was literally one paper at a time, like it was a state secret how many papers he would eventually have to have, and Morocco would fall into the sea if they told him at once all the papers he needed at the same time.

Plus, everybody in the government offices goes to lunch at the same time. See, in America (which Morocco is NOT) government employees go to lunch at staggered times so that the office is always open. HA. Not here. Plus, in America, lunch is at most one hour. HA. Not here. They think nothing of a three-hour lunch – and they don’t even drink. How can you eat lunch for three hours??

Now that I have accepted a job in Panama, I have to obtain documents here in Morocco before I can ship my belongings there. I have to ship because airlines have gotten real shirty about letting you bring any luggage, unless your ticket costs a gazillion dollars. I fly economy coach – they let me bring, like…a toothbrush. No, really, I can bring one checked bag and a carry-on. For a two-year contract in another country. Try condensing all the stuff you need for two years into one bag and a carry-on. I am female – are you serious?  So, I ship stuff via ocean freight, because it is the cheapest way I know of to get stuff from one place to another. But, but, but….I have to have the documents before I can ship. This explains why I am starting months early. I am worried that still might not be enough time, given what I know about getting papers here  in Morocco. Seriously. Still – hope springs eternal!

225. Well….SPIT!

It is Monday – all day. On the way to work this morning, I was involved in an automobile accident. My four carpoolers and I. The lady who was sitting closest to the back tire on the passenger side, where the impact occurred, knocked out that window using her HEAD (not that she intended that to happen), and was quite understandably upset, shook up thoroughly and in shock. She was transported to the hospital and checked out, and praise God she’s OK. She does not even have to spend the night for observation.

That is the important thing – that none of us five, or the four people in the other car, were injured. The fairly minor damage to the vehicles can be dealt with later, and it is totally not important compared with the people.

The rest of it can handled later. It does not help my peace of mind to know that in another completely unrelated accident where the other driver was clearly at fault, the judge has already ruled that the accident was my husband’s fault, probably because of some baksheesh under the table. This accident will be much harder to call, which means they will probably blame me, even though I don’t believe I was at fault. I stopped at the intersection and looked. There was no car coming. For the car to have hit me just as I had almost cleared the three-lane roadway, when he was not visible when I pulled out, means he had to have been flying. This would be borne out by the fact that my little car was slewed sideways in the driveway we almost made it into. There were three lanes available, and the car that hit us made no effort to swerve around us, even though he had room. I think he was blinded by the sun in his eyes, and that he never saw us until he hit us. He did not hit the brakes, nor did he warn us with the horn – just WHAM!

At any rate, Morocco police collect the driver’s licenses of both drivers, which means now that my husband will have to drive us carpoolers to work from now until they return the license – if they do. Sometimes they just never get around to doing that. Like I said….. it’s Monday.

212: Being Too Nice

Busted windscreen

Busted windscreen

We just discovered that the windscreen on the car has been hit, a really gook lick, with some object that broke it into a bunch of cracked pieces. It’s still there, it’s just not in one piece any more. Next month’s money, which was supposed to go into savings, now won’t be. It will be going into a new windscreen.

We stopped off at the police to report this, the second vandalization of the car in a month. The first time, they broke the taillight into tiny little pieces. While we were there, we also reported the lady who stole over a thousand US dollar’s worth of my jewelry, while she was in our house, working as a housekeeper. Right. Well. The police acted surprised that we had not automatically known that this woman was a criminal when she was hired. Right. It’s not like they wear a sign around their neck, dude. Right. *sigh* That’s what happens when you are too nice, and it is also part of learning, especially in a new country. Right.

Still, I have a clear conscience. I was doing the right thing, and it is between God and her that she did not. God gets even WWWAAAYYYyyyy better than I do, trust me. I have watched Him do it. I trust that it will all work out in the end.

203: Poor Humsa



Last night, our landlord’s son knocked on our apartment door. He was carrying number five – no, not the robot; Humsa, number five kitty person in Arabic, who is the friendliest one with all the neighbors. Humsa goes to the mosque when the prayers are called to get pets and scratchies from all the people who are coming to prayer at the mosque. He sits beside the door and accepts all petting graciously. Our neighbor told us that Humsa had just been hit by a car. I panicked.

At least he was still alive! We called the vet quickly, and placed Humsa on a big pillow for support and comfort. The vet said he’d come right away…we have nine cats, and we know this wonderful man quite well. While we waited anxiously, I saw Humsa move the tip of his tail – good – probably meant his back was not broken. I pinched in between his toes on the leg he seemed to favor and he whimpered/growled at me in response, so I knew he still had feeling in the leg – another good sign that his back was not broken.

When the vet arrived, he checked Humsa thoroughly and felt carefully the bones in his hip and leg on the side he would not put weight upon, while I held Humsa’s front paws so he would not scratch and his head so he would not bite, because it didn’t feel too good to have the sore place checked out. Humsa grumbled and growled because it hurt, but he was a VERY good boy. Our doctor told us that the bones were not broken, thankfully, and he could feel no internal injuries, either. Praise God!! He gave us a prescription for pain, and told us Humsa would not be a happy camper for a few days while his blunt force trauma healed. OK – I am just glad he was not killed!

200: lost in translation: I HOPE!!

Some months ago, a Morroccan went straight on a curve, and hit my husband in our little plastic, cheapie Polo VW. it cost us 10K Moroccan dirham (1 US dollar = 8 1/2 dirham), which is about half of a month’s salary to have it fixed, uh, rather, re-BUILT, and several months for that to happen. While it was being repaired, I got to walk a lot and take the public taxis, which aggravated my sciatic nerve and caused several doctor visits for the pain. Good drugs, though.

The Moroccan lawyer we were told to hire counseled us (through a translator, since he himself speaks only French or Arabic) that it might take 3 or 4 YEARS for the court case to be settled, since the man who hit our car steadfastly claims that my husband was at fault in the accident, even though the Moroccan Gendarmerie Royal (royal police) officer who responded to the accident said that he could see that the accident was not my husband’s fault.

Well- it’s been several months, and they schedule a court appearance once a month or more since the accident. That means a LOT of court appearances, which my husband has mostly (except for once or twice) shown up for. The other driver? Nah. Anyhoo, we walked over to the lawyer’s office this past week to check (again) on the progress of the case, and to see if a judgment had been made (hoping to be able to be reimbursed the 10K dirham we put out on the car repairs).

The Lawyer was not in, but his office manager was. French or Arabic are the languages spoken most commonly in Morocco. The office manager has a little English, but I sincerely hope that I seriously misunderstood what he told us. What he said (I THINK) is that the judge, overruling the royal police officer’s report, said that my husband was to blame for the accident. This sentence carries a month in jail, 3 month’s driver’s license suspension (they STILL have not returned his license since the wreck, so it’s ALREADY been more than three months!) and a 4K dirham FINE. We both stood there like we’d been poleaxed, mouths agape. WTF?????

He also told us this was a preliminary judgment, and now the case goes to another court for review. I THINK that’s what he said. I HOPE that’s what he said.

Dear God, I hope I misunderstood the rest of it!!!!!!