I was told I had to transfer at Tourouit, but the train was making various stops, announcing only in Arabic and French, so the entire ride I was a bit concerned I would miss my stop. Four hours into the trip, I thought I heard the kind man say ‘Melilla’, which is close to Nador so I turned to him and showed him my ticket while asking”Tourouit” a bunch of times. He then began frantically pointing to a man that was getting off the train and although I don’t know Arabic, it was obvious that he knew the man was also going to Nador and I should therefore follow him and get off the train.
I got up, quickly packing up my computer and throwing it in my bag along with the candy, my camera and dirty tissues, and ran off the train. I followed the man, showing two attendants on the way my ticket just to make sure they also pointed to where the man was headed. I got on the train parked across from the one I had just gotten off and found my cabin. There was a man sitting inside already. He was well dressed and was sporting some cool aviator glasses, which only pronounced how flustered and disheveled I was. So, I tried to organize myself by remaking my braid and cleaning up the mess inside my bag.
At one point the man took out a sandwich and offered it to me. He asked something in French, and after I sadly shook my head to say ‘no’, he said ‘Español?’ Upon my grin, he told me ‘si, lo sabia’ then proceeded to tell me he spoke perfect French but not so much Spanish. He wasfrom Morocco but had been living in Almeria, Spain for the past three years. I asked him if he liked Spain and he said he didn’t because people were racist. He stold me no one would give him a job and even tell him “No Marroquis” at dance clubs.
“Francia es mejor” he continued to tell me, because there were lots of different people there (unlike southern Spain) so he didn’t face discrimination. Not only did France offer language classes that allowed immigrants to integrate, but he could find work, which allowed him to keep practicing French, something he couldn’t do in Spain with Spanish. Listening to his story allowed me to understand another immigrant experience in Spain. Barcelona is a city that has adapted to both tourists and immigrants from all over the world, and in the past decades has begun to implement free language programs and social services to facilitate the city’s transition. Meanwhile, southern Spain remains a primarily hegemonic area that unfortunately, is at times not very welcoming to immigrants like the man I met.
He said that at the beginning of next year, he will be going to France but his wife and his five year-old daughter will stay in Almeria. He later on showed me a picture of his daughter, a coquette little girl with bows in her hair standing in front of a plastic Sponge Bob statue. For the rest of the train ride, he named all the places he hopes to one day visit, including Mexico.
He named a bunch of Mexican soccer players like Santos and Chicharito, and told me that many Mexican films are shown here in Morocco. Unfortunately he’s not a fan, and prefers American films because Mexican films are very dramatic saying things like “Te quiero Guadalupe”. This made me laugh hysterically and soon enough the two of us couldn’t stop laughing. I think he was talking about novelas, which indeed are very dramatic. When the train reached Nador he told me where to go and we said our goodbyes.