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O Fim duma Viagem

To Tangiers

MOROCCO | Friday, 25 July 2014 | Views [411]

 Without mule riding to go to, we got up at 9, ate breakfast, and got a taxi to the bus station. Natasha and I could both use an ATM, so after we bought our bus tickets we left Nathan and Cynthia with the bags and went off to find one.

Nathan said he'd seen one nearby. We were smack dack in the middle of a hill, so we didn't want to go the wrong direction. Either we went up unnecessarily, or we went down unnecessarily and then needed to climb back up even further. So I asked what the French word for ATM was (distributeur automatique) and approached a man standing outside a restaurant.

“Savez-vous où il y a un distributeur automatique?”

“What?!”

“Um... ATM?”

“Ah, yes. You see that building there. You go in there and then you can get bus tickets.”

Huh? “Not CTM. ATM. To get money?”

He directed us up the hill. On the plus side, provided we could find an ATM, it would be much easier to walk back.

 A few minutes later, we were pessimistic enough about our chances of finding the ATM to ask another stranger. We chose a man with a broken arm and two kids with him over the four adults sitting outside a store, figuring if worst came to worst we could probably beat the father in a fight. It didn't come to that. He just looked confused for a bit, then continued pointing up the hill we were walking.

 We discussed that we should have learned the Darija for “ATM.” We knew how to say “I want money,” but if you go up to a stranger and tell them that, they'll think anything from you're a beggar to you want to mug them. “Could you please direct me to the nearest ATM? It would be greatly appreciated.” doesn't fall anywhere on that scale.

 A little kid came up to us and asked if we wanted to go to the Casbah. We said “no, a bank.” He ran back to the man we'd been talking to, then came back to us and started leading us. His French was decent. Not fluent, but he spoke enough French that we could communicate.

 We walked up. And up. And took a right for one street then a left, and walked farther. Then we took another right. When I turned back to look, I see that the street we'd been on would have continued until we'd taken our last right. I never understand the Moroccan fascination with adding a jag into a walk that could be accomplished with a straight line.

 I was trying to make mental notes about what route we were taking, figuring (correctly) that the kid would vanish once we reached our destination and paid him. Fortunately, there was a sign for the gare routiere. It was a different route we'd taken, but was still a welcome sign.

 The streets were pretty deserted. Not a creepy level of desertion, just a quiet Sunday morning level. It was kind of pleasant. No one trying to sell us weed, though at one point the kid did point to a plant next to him, make a smoking motion, and start giggling.

 View from the walk there

I noticed another sign saying we were going to the Casbah. I was beginning to worry about where the kid was leading us when I noticed a sign for BMCE in front of us. Great. I turned in to go to the ATM. The kid continued walking, and didn't stop until Natasha told him that this is where we wanted to be. She paid him a couple dirham, and he left. If we hadn't stopped, I wonder where he would have led us.

Money in wallet, we headed back. We stopped two women to ask where the CTM was. They looked confused until the words “CTM,” at which point they could give us directions. We made the observation that in the future, we should just say “CTM?” since any French preamble just threw them off more. This wouldn't prove necessary, though, as we got to the sign without further difficulty, and from there it was a straight walk to the station.

As I'd anticipated, the walk back was much more pleasant than the walk up. Both were similarly beautiful, though.

 90% prettier than Mohammed V Street

We got to the station and waited a bit for buses to arrive. When they did, we walked past the one that said “Tangiers/Tetouan/Chefchouen” to get onto the one that said “Fes/Meknes/Chefchouen.” We asked the driver, and he said it was going to Tetouan. So we got on, hoping it wasn't bringing us to Fes instead. (Everyone from the taxi driver that morning to the person selling us bus tickets seemed to think we wanted to go to Fes. The bus driver could have been in that category too. Adventure!)

I didn't fully relax until I saw a “Meknes this way/Tetouan this other way” sign and we got into the Tetouan lane. By that point, I was really questioning Professor Lasri's advice. The bus ride from Chefchouen to Tetouan was 80% worse than the bus ride from Rabat to Chefchouen. Pretty, though.

 Shots taken blindly with the hope they don't blur

He'd also said it was only a half hour taxi ride from Tetouan to Tangiers. It was an hour. After a very hard attempt to communicate with someone (we're still not sure what language he spoke apart from not French, Darija, Spanish, or English) we walked away and tried to find a different taxi driver. The second one said he'd bring us ther for 300, not 400, so it was an improvement. He refused to budge on the price, though. After a slight discussion, we gave up and got in.

It was cramped, as usual. I think it might have been even more cramped than the one to and from Akchour, in fact. There, I had enough room to get chapstick out of my pocket. I couldn't on the way to Tangiers.

We only drove for a few minutes, and then the taxi stopped at what looked like a station of some form. The driver got out and disappeared. We came to the mutual decision that since we'd clearly said “Tangiers gare” if he tried to claim this was the final destination we would pay him 300 Senegalese franks.

Eventually, the driver got back in and started driving. Probably he was informing his superior he was leaving Tetouan. Maybe getting directions as well. When we reached Tangiers, he stopped at a random point and got out to ask another taxi driver something. Probably how to get to the train station.

When he pulled up, there was no confusion about whether this was the right place or not. The station was big, and looked a lot like the one in Rabat. We were most of the way towards going back.  

Tags: atm, bus, taxi, transportation

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