Marche Noir

Today is the big day. Athletico Miniero plays Casablanca Raja for a spot in the finals. Brazil vs. Morroco. The whole town, the whole country is caught up in the excitement. Rohan wants nothing to do with sight seeing today. “We are going to go to the game”, he declares. We talk to Christian and he tells us we may be able to buy tickets at the FiFA village in the new town. We take a taxi there. It is crazy. The place is lousy with Brazilians. There is a line outside a gate. They are all Brazilians. We get in the line, hopeful we can buy tickets. But with a little bit of half-English, half-Spanish, we discover that they have already bought the tickets online and they are just here to pick them up. I try to talk to a young security guy in uniform. He doesn’t have much English, but he manages to convey that the game is sold out. “But, is there a way for us to buy tickets?”, I ask him, showing him my wallet. After many minutes of gesturing and wasted French, he finally gets a what looks like the chief of the security people, a middle-aged, portly guy. He takes us to a police van, where there are more cops. There is a lot of talking going on. There is one cop who speaks a little English. I keep asking “how can we get tickets?”. After a lot of confusing posturing and back and forth with the chief, he says something with the words, “marche noir”. All of a sudden, I get it. I know both of those words. Black Market! Ok, we are getting somewhere. “How much money?”, I ask, now opening my wallet and showing him some dirhams. More back an forth with the chief. Finally, “quatre cent”, he says. It sounds like it will cost 400 dirham for a ticket. That’s about 50 dollars. Ok, we are too deep into this now to back out. “Where do I buy these tickets?”, I ask, now feeling a bit weird that I am talking to a bunch of cops about where I am going to find the scalpers. The chief wants to know if we want seats in the Athletico section or the Raja section. It looks like they are confused. They think we are Brazilians and need tickets in the Brazilian section. “Anywhere”, Rohan says, now sensing a kill. “Raja, ok?”, the chief says. “Yes, Raja!”, we say. Well that seems to clear things up. Everybody is smiling. The chief puts his arm around Rohan and takes us behind the van. He pulls our a bunch of tickets from the van. The young cop who had some English collects 800 dirham from me and the chief hands Rohan two tickets. Rohan is grinning from ear to ear. We are going to the game. The chief is smiling and slaps Rohan on the back in an avuncular way and says something in French that might have been “Go enjoy the game son! It’s a good thing your dad is a sucker, ha ha!”.

We walk away from the village, happy but a little freaked out. “What? Did we just get scalped by the cops?”. Yes, we did!

It is quite an adventure getting to the stadium. It is 18 km away and the local taxis don’t go there. We get there after being hussled by a grand taxi which dumps us a mile from the stadium and then walking.

The game is a blast. In a thriller, Raja upsets Athletico, 3-1. The whole town goes crazy. It is midnight before we get home. What a day!

Sent from my iPhone

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About Rahul Vora

Foodie, Traveler, Adventurer, Nature lover, Yogi, now blogger!
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