Hi kids, This week we will be looking at transportation in Morocco. Being able to move from place to place is a wonderful part of daily life. It enables you to see and learn many new and exciting things. I hope you try to explore your city too. Humans have come up with all sorts of brilliant means of transportation. I bet you’ve experienced many of them, such as trains, buses and cars. Those vessels are here too. Most people arrive in Morocco by airplane. There are about ten international airports. The main one is in the important city, Casablanca. I came to Morocco via that airport which is named Mohammed V International Airport. Flights go there from all over the world, including Madrid and New York. Locals and tourists may fly from one major city to another. However, there are more popular options, for example the train.
Trains usually have two sections, first and second class. The first class tickets are a little more expenive and usually means you get a specific seat number. There is air conditiong there also. Second class tickets just means you may sit wherever you wish, and if you feel warm, you may opent the little windows. It is open air travel rather than underground like in many parts of the U.S. The trains usually leave on schedule and move at a resonable pace. The government has plans to have even faster ones in the future. There are little overhead racks over the seats to store your luggage. Smoking is not allowed on the trains just as in the U.S. Eating is permitted however. In fact, the train staff push little trolleys around on the train with food and drinks to be sold, such as potato chips and sodas. The costs of the snacks are very inexpensive. It makes traveling more fun.
Buses are another exciting way of traveling in Morocco. It is the cheapest option and therefore ideal for communters who are on a budget, like college students such as myself. The buses are just like the Greyhound buses we have in the U.S. Have you ever been on one of those? For bus travel here, it is a wise decision to buy your tickects well in advance, especially for more popular cities. Tickets maybe purchased at the local bus station and its where passengers buy something to eat while waiting for the bus to arrive. They sometimes tend to run late. They also have little curtains fo blocking out the sun. This makes day journeys more comfortable. At night the bus is fairly cool, but not too cold which is a very good thing. There are four seats in each row, one pair on either side of the aisle. The seats are velvety and pleasant to sit on. Luggage goes overhead in the little racks, just like in the trains. Larger pieces of luggage, such as suitcases are stored below the bus in a big compartment. Sometimes you may be charged a slass fee to put your belongings there.
Taxis are another very popular option for moving from place to place. There are two types. The grande taxis and petits taxis. These names are based on the French descriptions of big and small taxis respecively and so refer to the size of the vehicles. Grand taxis carry six passengers and the petir ones take three. It is against the law to carry more than these specific numbers. Therefore, if I am in a group of four, then some of us take one petit taxi and the other take another one. The petit taxis don’t go outside of the city. Some of the taxis have meters like New York taxis. If they don’t then we usually ask the price to a destination before getting in. The prices are generally fixed for certain cities though. What does it mean when a price is fixed? When there are a number of us travelling, we usually split the cost equally amongst us. The drivers are very nice. They don’t usually speak alot of English, but we do a great job of communicating via writing and hand signals. Special pickups can also be arranged, fo example for early morning trips to the airport.
Regardless of the means I choose for getting around, I always have a lovely time. The images that rush past the windows tell the story of Moroccan life. When I first rode on the train it felt different from the trains we have in New York. It was painted, not shiny. It didn’t feel cramped, but instead open and well spaced out. The influx of light made me feel close to the outside. The windows are big, so the landscape rushing by my window was more bright and enjoyable. There was not darkness outside my window because of and underground. I didn’t feel cut off from the world outside my cabin. I got to be examine closely the houses, and other buildings. I saw people walking home from work and kids playing on the streets. I saw lush green pastures and healthy, swaying palm trees. The train stations were different too. There weren’t signs on the platform anouncing the names of each stop. It was sometimes difficult to know where my friends and I were. We asked the nice lady seated beside us to tell us when we had arrived at our stop. On my ride from Casablanca to Fes the train had stopped for a while. I went to one of the little restaurants on the platform because I was hungry. The announcer was speaking in Arabic and French. I didn’t understand, but my friend did. I was happy as long as I was eating and the train didn’t leave without me.
Travelling on the bus was exciting too. I especially like to sit more to the front because the windscreen is huge. I can see the road disappearing beneath us as we move. Since the buses are big, looking out of the window makes me feel that I’m high above the ground. I feel like a princess in a carriage. Everytime I have to use the bus I walk with an extra pair of socks because my feet would get very cold at night. That doesn’t happen though and I usually feel so confortable, I sleep for the entire night journey. On one of my bus rides to the city of Agadir, I awoke early and it was quite the treat. I saw the sun rising over the mountains and all the pretty colors of the morning’s twilight. When returning to the cold city of Ifrane where my univeristy is, my early morning experience was a little different. The windows were fogged, but the melodious Arabic music coming from the stereo soothed me. It reminded me of Guyana. I soon felt so calm I fell back to sleep. I also got to chat with nice people seated next to me. We usually use the little taxis for traveling within Ifrane. We get there quickly and have fun.
Another way tourists get around is on special rides on camels and in little horse drawn carriages similar to the ones we have in Central Park. The main way these animals are connected to the enviornment would be the grass they eat. Also, the seats on the camel backs and the carriages are made of wood. The seating is also made from leather which of course come from the skin of cows. The camels are very tall and if you sit on the seats on their backs you would be very high above the ground. The height scared me so I’m still gathering the courage to ride a camel. Wish me luck. Until next time kids.