The term ended Wednesday night for me and it was with surprise that I realized that I only had a few days to get all the marriage paperwork I needed so that we can finally get the pashas, viziers,and petty sultans that work in the Moroccan bureaucracy to let us finally be married.
I’d planned on getting all the paperwork done during the term but since I was teaching one class each day, there was no chance to take the necessary trips to Casablanca and Rabat to get what we needed.
A ton of unexpected blockages have kept us from getting married thus far:
-the Alaska job hiring someone else when I was on the way
-the unexpected firing and evicting from my father for no apparent reason
-not having a valid ID card
-and even though I was working only 10 hours a week, the fact that I had to work every day
I’ve been feeling like a bum for continually telling my sweetheart and her family that we would do it soon, later, after, etc.
So, even though the break was only a few days between terms, I was determined we would get all the documents.
For those who don’t know, the list of documents I needed in order to marry Hanane is (approximately because no one can say for sure)
-U.S. certified copy of passport
-U.S. certified capacity to marry
-U.S. certified birth certificate
-Declaration of Employment
-Copy of Work Contract
-certified copy of rental contract
-American Police Record
-Moroccan Police Record
-Notarized statement of my conversion to Islam
-resume indicating my intent to marry
-an unidentified number of passport photos
Plus certified copies of everything in French and Arabic.
Keep in mind, these documents aren’t free. Everyone gets something with the U.S. Consulate taking the lions share charging $30 per copy for certified copies of passport, $30 per copy for a sheet that says I’ve never married, etc. Hawaii charged $15 for a police record which may or may not be accepted because it has no stamps on it and Moroccan officials love stamps.
So, since Friday is a holy day, the weekends are weekends, and class assignments will happen Tuesday, that didn’t leave much time.
I’d been slowly making copies and certifying things through the term.
I needed the capacity to marry, certified copy of my passport, and notarization through the ministry of foreigners (in French by the way, Bureau of Strangers- I’m a stranger…stranger than most, probably)
So, Wednesday night I graded final exams and handed them off to my friend Jess who promised to deliver them for me the next day, then Hanane and I woke at 3 am to catch a 4am bus to Casablanca which got us there at about 10 am.
We went to the U.S. consulate and were told to come back at 1:30 even though the website said 10 am and the guy I called (who answered with a simple “Hello”) said 2:30. So we napped in a park in polluted Casa, looked at the amazing disparity or wealth, and drank expensive orange juice with hair in it (no lie!) at a cafe near the consulate.
At the consulate, I filled out the form, then paid the fee with an inflated dollar to dirham rate (8.7 to 1 vs 7.4 to 1) and then we caught the train to Rabat to get my U.S. certified documents certified by Moroccan officials. We got there twenty minutes too late so we booked into the Hostelling International Hostel and (I think) caught bedbugs while all the hostellers went out drinking. We ate a terrible dinner, but both fell in love with Rabat and it’s cosmopolitan airs. Later we were both awakened by the drunk travelers, but hey, isn’t that what hostels are about?
The next day we went to the Bureau of Strangers, they took my documents and told us to come back at noon, so we went to the Chellah and enjoyed all the plants and old beautiful stuff there.
But actually, first we went to the Ministry of Stamping Papers and waded past about 30 guys who offered to do us big services that we refused but once we were inside we found that a sign said the Ministry of stamping papers had signs that said they werent’ responsible for people that were ripped off by the guys outside, since they were all crooks. Of course, I ignore everyone who offers anything until they sit behind a desk, so no problem.
Getting our papers stamped was 20 dirhams for each, though the guys outside were offering to help for just a few hundred…good racket I guess.
But back to the Roman Necropolis they call Chellah. Just as lovely as I remembered it and Hanane enjoyed it too. Plus, as a bonus, Friday is free for Moroccans! So it was half price for us.
From there back to the Bureau of Strangers ( I can’t say that enough) where they had my paperwork, thankfully we arrived just before everyone leaves for couscous.
And with that, we had all the necessary papers (we think, because no one knows for sure) and so we caught the train back to Fes, but not before eating some pizza and salad at Cafe Italia. Delicious. There aren’t really restaurants in Sefrou, we also ate a couple of ice cream cones while in Rabat and I have to admit that Hanane eating pink ice cream while wearing pink shoes, a pink sweatshirt, and pink earrings, was more than a little bit cute. There aren’t ice cream parlors in Sefrou either, so this was a nice treat, both seeing the cuteness and eating the ice cream.
On the train we met an Italian guy who looked just like every man in my family. He told me I look like every other person in Northern Italy and seeing him, I have to think that maybe I really am Italian by descent, if not by nature, although I probably am that too.
And then we got to Fes, caught the 45 minute taxi to Sefrou, and basked in the glory of having all our papers.
Translation. The translator was closed today, so we go Monday. After that, the family court where they usually tell people to go get other papers from some distant place, after that, the aldul who will certify that we are married Muslim people, and after that, well, we’ll see…won’t we?