Imaginary cities. Real bribes.


The trip to Essaouira from Casablanca took me three and a half hours, whereas it took the main group of writers six hours on the same road.

“How did you get here so fast?” the group wondered.

“Our driver was speeding the whole time.”

“And what about the police? They didn’t stop you?”

“Of course they did.”

“And what happened?”

“We just bribed them.”

“Did they ask for bribes?”

“Three times.”

For most Westerner’s this practice can be a shock, but for people from my part of the world bribing is part of our daily routine. Our police tend to be underpaid and therefore, try to supplement their meager incomes with bribes. Our traffic cops only earn about $100 a month but can make as much as $150 a day. We call this phenomenon, “police paradox”. I told my group that I thought our driver was lucky. He only had to pay one bribe for speeding. In my country, he would have had to pay one bribe for speeding and a second bribe – for bribing.

The group seemed surprised by the bribing…. and I was surprised by something else.

“Why couldn’t you get a visa for Algeria? It was easy for me!” I told the group.

“We don’t know. It was weird. It took so long for them to review our documents.”

“Why didn’t you offer them a bribe? Maybe you didn’t get their cue.” I said.

I didn’t have any problems getting one. The officer at Algerian embassy told me that my documents were fine, but “as of today” the price for an Algerian visa went from 25 to 45 euro.

“I can show you the new prices,” he said. Since he was in Uzbekistan and I live in Kazakhstan, his cue was obvious.

“No problem,” I answered. I paid bribe and got my visa. Too bad we didn’t make it to Algeria… I heard anything can be bought in that region – visa’s, marriage certificates, and even diplomas. I imagined how I get a backup driver’s license.

More interesting here


Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: