Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag Boat refugees
29 november 2016
Picking up the story where I finished last time: Ine has bought a plane ticket home and now needs to make sure she gets a stamp in her passport!
When we left Cadiz, Spain, we had intended to go to Mohammedia, but due to the weather and seasickness Lia made the decision to change course to the nearest harbour at that point: Asilah. Now Mohammedia is an official ‘port of entry’, whereas Asilah is not. A ‘port of entry’ has the official right to grant entry into a country and, in the case of Dutchies visiting Morocco, provide the stamps that are needed in the passport for that. In Asilah we could not get these. This does not matter much if you intend to stay on or near the ship, do some groceries shopping in town and continue on your way to the next harbour as soon as the storm is over. But it’s a different story when you intent to leave the country on an airplane. In her enthusiasm to get home before her birthday, Ine had overlooked that minor detail.
It provided us with a quest to get stamps in our passports. The most obvious solution was to sail further south along the coast and try the first ‘port of entry’ that we would encounter. According to the pilot, our handbook providing information about the harbours along the coast, that should be Larache, 15 nautical miles to the south. The only problem: the first safe moment to leave the harbour would be on Tuesday, whereas Ine’s flight would leave on Monday.
However, we weren’t defeated so easily and first tried the friendly officials at the harbour office – actually the ‘gendarmerie’, since Asilah does not really have a harbour office. They could not make an exception though – probably did not even possess the actual stamp – and they told us to go to the local police station in town. In broken French mixed with English we tried to explain our problem. The long discussion made only one thing very clear: it was our problem, not theirs. They told us one more thing: go to Tanger to get your stamps.
In the pilot we had read that in exceptional circumstances there might be a possibility to get stamps in Tanger by travelling there overland by train. If, by the courtesy of the local gendarmerie, we were given our passports, which normally are held by that gendarmerie until we would leave the harbour. This was not a problem, even though it took about 20 minutes to find them, as the guy currently at duty did not know in which drawer of the huge cabinet the other guy had stowed them away and his panicky way of searching for our seemingly lost national documents was not very efficient.
Several hours, one taxi drive, one train ride and a rainy walk to the harbour later, we stepped into the Tanger gendarmerie. They understood our problem, they called the Asilah gendarmerie to check our story, but they were very sorry for not being able to help us. Our place to be was the office of the ‘police frontiere’ 200 meters down the road. When we arrived at the border police office we were welcomed by a young man who pushed aside an ancient looking secretaire to let us into the building. Unfortunately for us, the person we needed was just out for the afternoon prayer. More waiting followed.
“Stamps? No problem! Where is your boat? In Asilah? C’est ne pas possible! If you come back tomorrow with your boat, you can get all the stamps you want, but we have to see the boat!”
Mission Tanger failed. However, we decide to take our chance to see a little of the town and taste the local cuisine. We have a late lunch / early dinner in a 20 square meter room with place for 8 persons and the kitchen in the same area, behind a curtain. The food was splendid!
There is little hope left for Ine’s flight, and when Sunday morning comes with winds still too strong for a safe passage to Larache or Tanger her last option is to simply go to the airport and try to get on her plane without entry or exit stamp. A long shot…..
Monday is the first day in a week with fine weather, which is confirmed by several fishermen going out in their little boats to fish. We do some maintenance, buy groceries and prepare to leave. In the evening a disappointed Ine comes back from Casablanca airport, where she’d managed to check in, drop off her luggage, but was not allowed passed customs…
We arrived by boat to a foreign country, we are now a zillion offices, civil servants, military police officers , phone calls, guards, protectors and paperwork and week later and still don’t have stamps. And now we have to continue our journey, again over sea, to try at the next place. We’re starting to feel like boat refugees, the only difference being that we travelled to an African country, instead of from one. Oh, and we still have our boat to try the next harbour. So on to Larache then!
Ps. The term ‘boat refugees’ is being just mockingly here. The real thing is very terrible and I urge you to read these stories of:
- Abu Bakar (14y) from Mali, who fled with his brother, was rescued from a sinking vessel and now does not know where his brother is (http://bootvluchteling.nl/en/story-abu-bakar-14y/)
- An Eritrean man who bought a ride on a truck and left his family behind to earn money somewhere else to feed his family. The truck turned out to be an unstoppable ride with only two options: dying (of fatigue or a gunshot) or seeing it through to the end, whatever ‘it’ and ‘the end’ may be (http://bootvluchteling.nl/en/story-a-refugee/)
15 januari 2017 10:44 | Door: Jantien
Jaaaa meer van dit soort verhalen!! Welkom in de real sailors 'things'....
15 januari 2017 19:11 | Door: Vera Koenen
Probeer formulier 39 B dan maar eens te krijgen!
Asterix lezers weten precies wat ik bedoel!
16 mei 2017 01:46 | Door: Henk Kayser
Al een tijd niets van je gehoord.
Zijn jullie inmiddels aan de overkant?