The Foreign Service, Journal Entry Morocco, Update
I have just received an updated request from Kenneth Lisenbee, Webmaster for the official Paul Bowles site, that was authorized and established by the musical and literary inheritors of his estate as well as for Jane Bowles. Thor Kuniholm, the director of the Tangier American Legation Museum in Morocco, has requested my first article "The Foreign Service, Journal Entry Morocco," be changed to reflect the Legation museum's proper URL. This is noted below. No longer the official site the link that was previously used causes "Google Alert" problems. If you're wondering what people in foreign service do for a living I'll share a few photos from my original Morocco journal. Like I said earlier, overseas assignments come in a variety of colors: black for hellholes, like Iraq and Afghanistan Pink for paradise, off-white to avoid being boring. Visit:- Each week , Embassy staffers alternate between being a duty officer. This means they are on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies-kind of similar to firemen. The majority of times, nothing happens, or it's an off-white day or weekend. When something hits the fan, the colors get more exciting. A phone call at two early in the day by an Marine Security Guard in Rabat forced me to go for the nearby jail, wearing jeans and a sweater quickly thrown on over my sleeping clothes, hair in a mess. The Moroccan police were detained an eighteen-year-old American for trying to sneak hashish onto an aircraft. To make matters worse the American had lost his passport. As the average traveler does not have diplomatic immunity the unfortunate fellow languished in the dark for months before we were able obtain his release. Today , there are criminals and terrorists who will do you harm if you get an American passport, so it's prudent to keep it hidden when traveling. Jaren Stone was newly new Junior Officer assigned to duty in the embassy , when he was summonedafter a few hours in the Hilton Hotel. He was unexperienced, but He contacted an embassy health officer and the two were able to convince the panic-stricken management of the hotel that the American man lying on the floor in room 808 of the Rabat Hilton had died of a stroke, not the Black Death. Jaren's French and Arabic was able to calm the hysteria but not before that manager had quarantined the entire hotel, including that of the dead wife of the man who was distraught. The next day, Jaren revealed to me "Back at home in Washington I disliked my teacher of French. In the moment, I'd love to kiss his ring." In normal working hours, a consular officer handles American citizen affairs, the disposition of deceased corpses, and also the issuance of visas and passports. What is the difference between consulate and embassy? So glad you asked. In the beginning, embassies exist in capital cities with ambassadors in charge. Instead of CEOs, they're referred to as Chiefs of Mission. They are accountable to the Secretary of State and operate according to the presidential discretion. Consulates General and Consulates are in other cities, headed by a Consul General. The President elects the majority of major officers. A handful hold the rank of career officer in the Senior Foreign Service. Depending on the circumstances, certain American embassies such as Baghdad, Paris or London are home to hundreds or thousands of staff, while smaller embassies such as Lithuania or Luxembourg have less personnel. Once upon a time there existed an entity called the legation. Confused? Fahgetaboutit. Think about romance. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabs; authors Paul Bowles and painter Henri Matisse. A haven for artists and writers, Tangier, Morocco was probably one of to be one of the State Department legations before the American diplomatic presence in that Bohemian city was shifted out of the old walled quarter to the new town where it was later closed. The close friendship among Morocco with the United States goes way back. The old legation that was located in the medina of Tangier was a gift by the United States from the Sultan of Morocco in 1821. In the 1970s from its rooftop, I recall admiring the views of Strait of Gibraltar and the RIF Mountains. While from the medieval cobblestone streets below, I smelled the awe-inspiring scent of Moroccan cooking to die for. Original structure (restored) has become an American museum and cultural hub amid the bustle of merchants as well as donkeys, artists and a variety of expatriates. With stunning Moorish design, the museum is surrounded by a characteristic inner courtyard, open to the sky, it is home to an amazing collection of 17th-20th century art-an American jewel in the crown of this North African Kingdom. And December to January skiing in the Atlas Mountains, one hour away from the oases of Marrakesh is no hardship either. One of the benefits of an assignment in paradise. Color me pink!  

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