My passport is four years old. I got it just after graduating high school, and now that I’m fresh out of college my photo naturally looks outdated. My hair was longer back then (I have none to speak of now,) and I didn’t have a beard, so I can forgive the immigration officers at the airport for doing a double take when they see who I was four years ago and who am I today.
The old photo had never been a problem until I was leaving Brussels airport for Morocco. The immigration officer studied the passport for a few moments and then held up the old photo to me.
“You expect me to think this is you?” Most immigration officers only joke about the photo, so I figured he was simply being incredulous for the sake of humor. I laughed and said I’ve changed alot since high school.
He stared at me; my smile faltered.
“If you were trying to immigrate into Belgium I would send you back to Athens.” I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say. “Well?” he said. I didn’t have a response so he just sighed dramatically and stamped the page. “Good luck landing in Morocco. Moroccan people are not so simple.”
That prick gave me such undo anxiety about safely getting into Morocco, because when I arrived at immigration I wasn’t hassled at all. I got the stamp and moved along.
When I met my host he greeted me with a hug, and gave me so many kind words of welcome. My host family had dinner ready to go when I arrived, with plenty of mint tea to boot.
The word for greeting in Arabic is “salaam,” which literally translates to “peace.” I fail to see the supposed duplicity in Moroccans that the Belgian immigration officer implied. Generalizing a people so broadly seems to me to be a symptom of a person who has some foul complexities of their own.
Peace and mint tea. What could be simpler?