January 07, 2004

Trouble in Muppetville

There was trouble in Muppetville (The Mauritainian Embassy in Casablanca), yesterday morning. By the time I arrived at 11am to pick up my visa as promised, most of the foreigners had had their applications taken, but there was a crowd of angry Moroccans, who kept having their forms sent back for various technical reasons. Muppet 1 was in full swing, and was sending people to the back of queue if they weren't lined up straight. I was part of a small crowd of about 7 who were waiting to pick up passports because they hadn't got them done in time yesterday.
Muppet 1 refused to deal with any of us in any way, until he was satisfied with the queue of people waiting to apply. We had been told our passports could be picked up at 12, but by this time they had been so slow at taking applications, that there was still a queue of people applying which started at 9am.
Us 7, after several fruitless attempts to try and get our passports back, were told by Muppet 1 to get off the pavement in front of the embassy, and wait somewhere else. There were some angry exchanges in Arabic (not by me, obviously).
The queue of people trying to apply was dwindling extremely slowly, and anger was brewing as more application forms were rejected on technicalities. Several people just left, and one man scrumpled up the application from and threw it in the face of Muppet 1, before storming off. Muppet 1 engaged in some shouting and elaborate hand gestures.
Us 7 resigned ourselves to not being dealt with till they had finished the application queue, and we sat down under a tree. I then spotted Muppet 2, the friendlier of the two, who the day before had promised me my passport by midday. He was having a crafty cigarette down a side alley. I bent his ear about my passport, and he apologised and skulked off back into the embassy.
Nothing much happened till about 1.30pm until Muppet 1 came outside again, and announced that no more applications would be taken today. There was only ONE person left in the queue, and he tried to reason with Muppet 1, but he was having none of it.
In the middle of this commotion, Muppet 2 appeared again, and I was briefly hopeful until I saw he wasn't carrying any passports. Instead he had a notice, which he glued on to the front of the embassy. This notice detailed changes in the visa application process starting from January 1st (5 days ago). The poor Muppets must have felt overworked, because the main thrust of the new notice was that visas would now take a MINIMUM of 24 hours to process, and by the way the price had also doubled from about 10USD to 20USD.
I took this opportunity to again question Muppet 2 about my passport. He once again apologized and disappeared.
It was now 2pm, and there were now only us 7 waiting for passports, and the last poor soul with an application form. There was no sign of activity, and the policeman at the gate wouldn't let any of us in.
A further 10 minutes or so passed, and Muppet 2 appeared with my passport. He didn't seem to have anybody elses, but after 3 hours of waiting I was so excited to finally see my passport that I wished the remaining 6, 'Bon Chance', and got the hell out of there.

Posted by paul at January 7, 2004 06:46 PM