Don’t worry, I am not implying that you get around in Morocco by camel… although you could if you wanted to. Looking back on my experience in Morocco, one thing that really stands out is how easy it was to get around the country. And yes the camel ride was a definite highlight.
This is the first of two times that I got to ride a camel. The photo featured here was of a tourist trap camel ride on the beach of Essaouira, my favorite city in Morocco. The other was a real two hour camel ride to a dessert campsite (more on this at http://seesimi.com/sleeping-in-the-sahara/).
Ok, back to the actual means of public transportation…
Generally speaking you can take the “autobus”, “grand taxi” or “petit taxi” anywhere you want to go. The country also has an amazing rail system that I got to take advantage of several times throughout my six month stay.
“Autobus” is the French word for bus (shocking!) and these are colour coordinated and numbered in Rabat, the administrative capital of Morocco. The bus I took to and from work everyday was the 58, traveling from Hassan to Agdal (you have to ask around to know which bus goes where, since there are no route plans). I loved that the Number 58 bus was army green, with camouflage motif.
The 58 is a very popular bus, going through two main areas of the city. This bus was so popular that I would often have to watch six packed Number 58 buses pass by before one would stop to let me on. I am using the word “stop” lightly, since generally they would just slow down enough for you to run and hop on. Luckily for me, volunteers would help pull me onto the moving bus, so I never did fall flat on my face.
Story break: You do have to watch your bags though. Once when the bus wasn’t crowded and I was actually able to get a seat, an old man with a walker sat down beside me. I was looking out the window when I felt that someone was staring at me. I turned to look at her face, and followed her glance down to my bag. The seemingly sweet old man sitting beside me had both hands in the top compartment of my backpack. When he realized he had been caught, he made a “quick” getaway by limping his way to the front of the bus with his walker, looking back at me to see what I would do. The only thing I could do was laugh, since there was only a pack of Kleenex in that pocket of my bag.
Despite how packed the bus is, the conductor is still able to make his way through the crowd to collect the payment. How he keeps track of who has and has not paid, I will never understand. Another thing that impressed me was that if you are holding too many bags, or are traveling with a child, people actually hold them for you, if they have a seat and you don’t.
The “Grand Taxi“, or big taxi, is an old Mercedes that is used to transport 7 people at a time: the driver plus two people sit in the front, with four other passengers in the back. Generally I used these to get between cities, or into the country side.
The “petit taxi” is a regular, city taxi. In my experience, these drivers were all very nice, and were surprisingly honest.
Morocco also provided my first sighting of group motorbike travel. Entire families can be transported on a mini motorcycle: dad driving, 4 yr old daughter hanging on to him in front, 7 month son being held by the mother behind. Considering the speeds that they are traveling at, it is amazing how no one falls off. The same can actually be applied to BICYCLES, but with three people instead of four!