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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

16th Stop - Rabat

Another improvised stop on my tour. I met Nezha, a JCI member from Casablanca and this year’s national treasurer last year at the JCI World Congress in Tunisia. I contacted her about my project and she really wanted to help out in any way she could. Already, from afar, she gave me precious info and helped me arrange accommodations in Casablanca. Before leaving Tangier, she asked if I wanted to stop in Rabat to meet her friend from the university, Adnane. Sure!

Same old story, no phone and only a Moroccan GPS to rely on, we decided to meet at the train station at 5:30 pm. I had a few minutes to spare, and I stopped twice for directions to make sure I was on the right track. I went the wrong way and was about 1 km from the station when I rolled down my window for a third set of directions. Surprise! It was Adnane in the car with his father! I think my luck is starting to turn around, all it took was to make it to Africa.

Random people.
We parked the car and went for a nice long walk through the medina and along the waterfront. Adnane told me about the cultural work he does for the British Council and we talked about future plans and ambitions. He brought me to the coolest café nestled into the walls of the fortified city, overlooking the river estuary and beaches. The view was magnificent and the mint tea even better.

As we walked over to a fruit juice café, he asked me if I had time tomorrow before leaving to give a talk on leadership to a group of high school students participating in an entrepreneurship program. Of course, I would love to! Mohammed, who is in charge of it, joined us and we ironed out all of the details over an almond, strawberry, banana, kiwi, orange juice cocktail. They went to the mosque to pray and I stayed in the café to watch the world cup final on the smallest screen you can imagine. Adnane’s patience for soccer being what it is, when they came back and the game went into overtime, we decided to go back home.

Adnane practicing his presidential smile
Luckily, Adnane’s dad was watching the game so we caught the second half of overtime and Spain’s game winning goal. I knew they were going to win all along (see prediction in previous post). I just wish Erik B. had been there with me, along with his conversational football skills--just like old times in Ezzarha! Benito, a guest of Adnane’s from the Netherlands, came back from the ambassador’s residence not too happy. Benito would also be giving a talk during the leadership seminar tomorrow. We stayed up a little longer then went off to bed.

I woke up early the next morning and had breakfast with Adnane’s dad. I really appreciated our conversation. He told me that he retired from a government ministry and now dabbles in real estate and is very active as president of a retired persons associations. His cardinal rule for sales is not to try to please your buyer at all costs and lie about things when you don’t know. For me, trust is one of the best assets to have when selling something, and you gain people’s trust by being honest with them.

Benito and I left for the school and gave our presentations later that morning. Leadership is a vast subject but I decided to stick with a few simple notions like focus on the positive, smile, listen to others, and create a vision that others can believe in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for all of Benito’s talk. He was on a roll in the beginning and I hope to see him again in the future to find out more!

Time for me to hit the road again but before I do, thanks again to Nezha, Adnane and his family, Mohammed, Marouane and Benito for such a memorable time in Rabat!

Next stop: Casablanca!


  1. John!!

    Nice road story, and I'm honored to have been a part of your around-the-world trip! ;)
    Any time it will be possible to meet I'll be very happy to see you again. Don't hesitate a sec. to let me know you're in or around The Netherlands!

    Be safe while you're traversing the globe! :)
    May peace be with you,



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