Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's like being 18, all over again

I bought my first legal bottle of wine yesterday.

The law says, once you have your resident visa, you have to have an alcohol license to buy or consume alcohol. In a bar, at a liquor store, at your neighbor's house ... doesn't matter, technically, you have to have a license.

Of course, everyone ignores this law. No one cares if you drink in a bar. No one cares if you drink at your neighbor's house. And there are a couple of liquor stores that openly flaunt the law and sell to anyone, licensed or not, as long as you pay cash.

But ... a guy from the office told me he once spent a night in jail here after getting into a car accident on his way back from one of those "look the other way" liquor stores. The police searched the car and found the beer and wine in the trunk, and he didn't have a license, so he went to jail.

(Sidebar: He swears they had Tea Boys in the jail, going from cell to cell offering lattes and oolong tea. And they gave him extra pillows and made everyone be quiet after 10 p.m. Just like Attica!)

He got out of it okay; he had the receipt showing he had just purchased the stuff and was on his way home, so they let it go. But other people have warned there are plenty of things that could happen, out of your control, that could get you into trouble for not having a license. So just to be safe, I decided to get one.

It's a process. You have to provide three passport photos. Copies of your passport and visa. And a "letter of no objection" from your employer, which also shows how much you make. They use that to determine how much you are allowed to spend each month.

So I gave all that -- plus 200 dirhams -- to the nice folks at my local Spinney's, and three weeks later, I had my license.

It's cute. It looks like a miniature passport, with my photo and a government stamp and everything. It even has a blue cover embossed with gold lettering. On each page, they keep a record of what you buy each month.

So, you pull out your passport and show off your tourist visa stamp from Istanbul. I'll produce my alcohol license and show you where I bought three bottles of Italian red for only 85 dirhams!


  1. Oh, good -- this works out nicely! Now that you can drink, you won't need your Beemer anymore. My darling spouse told my white-headed, 80-year-old dad all about your car last night, and my dad passed along some words of wisdom that gave Robby the courage to take the BMW off your hands: "I think every man should own a nice, zippy convertible at least once in his life." So, be on the lookout for an email to get the negotiations started. Congrats on your legality -- you'll be able to buy a LOT of 15-year-old Jamison with whatever price y'all settle on. ;)

  2. Yikes! You've become a local!