Rabat- The British ambassador has shared about his first year in Morocco, saying he would change the driving and the litter in Morocco if he could.
Charmed by the Moroccan lifestyle, Thomas Reilly, who has been ambassador to the country for one year, wrote both about the beauty and the challenges he found in Morocco.
The official Facebook page of the British Embassy in Morocco shared Reilly’s essay on Thursday.
Reilly recalled his first day in Morocco with his family, writing that although he had visited Morocco as a tourist before, he was aware that “the experience of a tourist is quite different to that of a resident.”
An abrupt roadway welcome
Upon his arrival in Tangier after a long drive from the UK, he was greeted by a lorry that rear-ended him on the way to Rabat.
He wrote: “In retrospect, that was an appropriate introduction to Moroccan roads. The driving in Morocco is fast and furious; often scary. Never dull. You need to keep your wits about you at all times.”
Reilly warned that pedestrians can saunter across the road at any point, noting that one “cannot afford to lose concentration for a second” with the large number of donkeys, dogs, cats, trucks, lorries, and mopeds in Moroccan villages.
The ambassador described the beauty of natural scenery as he drove to Rabat: “As we drove, I was amazed by its geographical variety – as we left the hills of the Rif behind, the amazing Atlantic coast opened up,” he wrote.
He went on describing roadways, the High Atlas Mountains, and Mount Toubkal, which he climbed.
“I have climbed Mount Toubkal and looked across, from that snowy, frozen height to the beautiful Atlas range; down into the infinite desert; and back towards the fecund plains around Marrakech.”
Rabat’s dam ‘ruined by plastic waste’
“Morocco is not perfect – what country is?” The ambassador wrote about the challenges, stating that if he could change two things about Morocco, it would be the driving and the litter.
Reilly recently expressed distaste at the litter surrounding the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah dam in Rabat through a post on his Twitter account.
He wrote: “We went this morning for a walk with our dogs near the dam lake [in Rabat], a very beautiful and peaceful place…but the place was ruined by plastic waste, sandwich leftover, bottles and garbage.”
“It was honestly appalling, Morocco deserves better than that!” he said.
Plastic bags still a problem
Ending his essay, Reilly congratulated Morocco on being a leader in banning plastic bags.
“Morocco led the world in banning plastic bags and should be congratulated for that leadership, but the plastic scourge legacy (from which many countries are suffering) is more noticeable in Morocco.”
Morocco launched the “zero mika” (zero plastic bags) law in July 2016, making it one of the first countries in Africa to impose a ban on plastic bags.
However, plastic bags are still manufactured and sold illegally in Morocco. Authorities seized nearly 2.96 tons of banned plastic bags intended for sale in a warehouse in Tangier in March.
Reilly rued the fact that the plastic bags and litter make “such a stark contrast to the outstanding natural and historical beauty of the country.” Reilly asserted that he looks forward to his second year as Ambassador to Morocco.
“To continuing to build a real partnership of equals between our two countries; to sharing my experiences; and to visiting more places and learning more about this remarkable country,” Reilly concluded.