Friday, April 19, 2013

Governmental Affairs

April 19, 2013

In the morning, Matt and I had breakfast with one of the new mentors who joined us on the ship here in Morocco: Pascal Finette and his wife Jane. Pascal was the founder of the open source little ditty Mozilla (you know, Firefox?). We had a lovely breakfast with him picking his brain about the audience for our Unreasonable Media. We talked about how there is an identity crisis with the media we're producing. Because we haven't defined our audience, we have made videos for multiple groups, none of which we have directly targeted. He gave us a lot to think about, but it's too bad the advice came with five days left in the voyage.

Matt, Patrick and I had a long breakfast and continued chatting about the trip and our future plans. it's been the topic of many, many discussions as we wrap up our voyage, and it has been exciting to hear all of the things people have been inspired to pursue after this trip ends, and we leave our new shipboard world for land. I'm highly encouraged by everyone's passion for their new projects. Mine is my feature film. If I haven't pitched it to you yet, let me know, and I'll practice on you as if you're my future investor. I'll take $30,000,000 please. (Just a medium-budget feature). Okay, just kidding about the investor part, but serums about the pitch practice.

After breakfast, I packed up our camera, showered then grabbed a snack before heading for the day's luncheon at the US Consulate's residence in Casablanca. He offered to host Unreasonable as a gesture toward supporting the growth of local entrepreneurs.

We broke up into a bunch of taxis and drove along the coastline to see the biggest mosque in the world. It is a beautiful mosque, and it was neat to see it on our way. I might like to get closer, but I don't think I'll have the chance on this trip.

We arrived and our taxi driver charged us 50 dirham even though the meter said 32. It's time to get used to being taken advantage again. We had a male in the car, so I think that helped keep the price down. People have been peaceful and kind so far, but this country still has a very sexist culture. I'm not a fan of that part.

Our cameras and bags were searched in order to enter the residence area. We entered to a stone walkway in a beautiful garden with a nice, white home in the middle. This was the home where Roosevelt acknowledged that the US was for Moroccan independence. It's a symbol of the good relations between Morocco and the United States. It was interesting to hear the history of the place and walk around the garden. We met the wife who was holding little Pepper, a black Pomeranian. He wasn't allowed down because he bothers Winston Churchill, the peacock who lives on the grounds.

We got some beverages and shot some video of the home before filming the luncheon. There were great speeches made from the locals and from our Unreasonable people thanking one another for the time together. A man was barbecuing lamb chops, chicken kabobs with jalapeƱos and hotdogs. It smelled delicious. And it was delicious.

They had fresh salads with corn, avocado, tomatoes and kidney beans, and if you had been eating frozen ship food for as long as we have, you would know how amazingly pleasing fresh fruits and vegetables are to our pallets. I'm going to eat an entire bag of apples when I get home.

They brought out the mint tea and traditional pastries for dessert, and we gabbed and munched until they kicked us out. I met a man who wants to hire us to film in Morocco in the future. I gave him my card. We'll see what happens with that.

We snagged a taxi back to the port which cost us 100 dirham, I'm thinking because of the all female cab tax. At the consulate they told us not to pay more than 30. Sigh.

Jessie and I were the only two that weren't heading off to film traveling entrepreneurs, so we decided to drop our gear on the ship and go out for an adventure. We walked from the port back to the tram stop we were familiar with and wandered through a couple cat calls and an offer to get in a white, windowless van to a cafe where we found Jeff HoffmN and his girlfriend Ghada having an apple shake. We said goodbye to them because they fly out tonight and then found our techie friend from the ship, Dan. He had just gotten scammed out of $70 and needed some cheering up.

We all walked around the market place for a little while, then Jessie and I decided that we needed a sit. We found a cafe where people were drinking coffee and tea and we made ourselves comfortable. We ordered up two mint teas and joined the dozens of men with their seats turned to the street, sipping their beverages and watching the world go by. We took some selfies, chased off some street kids and then received our piping hot tea. Our waiter poured it for us, but it's important to begin the pour, then life the pot as high as possible to create bubbles in the tea. We learned that if there are no bubbles, the tea has not been prepared properly and should not be consumed. Good lesson. This tea had bubbles.

It was interesting how many people that we met who asked where we were from offered their condolences for what was happening in Boston. The bombing has made international news, and people all over the world are paying attention to America right now. I don't want to start anything political, but I feel embarrassed by the people who are posting on Facebook incendiary, blanket comments about Muslims. I sat in a cafe today in a predominantly, predominantly Muslim country watching their city run like any other city I've been in on this trip. There's hustle, bustle, people meeting one another again, others meeting for the first time. I sat in a group of Muslims yesterday painting together and dreaming with them about how to change our world for the better. You can NOT make a blanket statement about any group of people: Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Blacks, Whites, Men, Women, the rich, the poor, Mexicans, New Yorkers, people who like shellfish. People are people. They love. They hate. They play. They react. They fight. There are extremes in every group of people, but the -ism's that hurt so many people and ruin so much potential for good, productive relationships are fueled by comments that I'm watching pour out of my American friends' computers. Be mad at the two men that killed and injured so many, but stop blaming every person that shares an attribute with them.

That's going to stir up some debate.

Anyway, onward with our lovely evening: Dan found us again and we made friends with a local enjoying a cup of coffee who recommended a place to get some couscous. It was Friday, so we would be able to get it. Apparently couscous is limited to Fridays.

We sauntered down to Ramses, a nice little restaurant and ordered up three plates of couscous. It came with steamed veggies like squash and cucumbers and a sweet raisin concoction in the middle. It hit our little Moroccan food spot. We were happy. We decided to remember the moment forever.

We finished dinner and walked back to the ship with a man named Medi who was part Moroccan and part Spanish. He claimed that his body was Moroccan and his left arm Spanish. We went between French, Spanish and English as we walked and talked. It has been eye-opening to see how many opportunities we miss as mono-lingual (If that's even a word) Americans. There is such a communication barrier for a culture that expects the world to only speak its language. Yet again, I wish I were fluent in another language. French would have been helpful here.

We got back to the port entrance and said goodbye to Medi. We didn't see the shuttle I sight, so we walked back to our ship talking about philosophy and ethics on odd topics. Jessie's philosophy minor compliments my obsession with philosophy. Dan didn't seem to mind the wacky thoughts we had.

I got back to our room to find Matt crashed out after his b-roll day. I can't wait to hear about his adventure, but it will have to wait until morning, I think.