Riding on the Marrakesh ExpressAround the World, Day 14: Casablanca to Marrakesh, Morocco
To seal the coffin on our exotic dreams of Morocco, Ken woke early this morning with an active case of TD. Though we exerted our best effort to be vigilant about what we ate and drank, some nasty little bacteria managed to slip through our shield of caution and wreak its havoc. We suspect the not-quite-hot Moroccan tea served in the hotel bar last night, or maybe the strawberries from lunch at the local Sheraton hotel. At any rate, we had to pack up and leave Casablanca for our journey to Marrakesh, where we will catch a flight to Milan tomorrow morning, hoping that Italy will bring us better luck, or at least improved health.
To reach the train station we again called on Morocco's fascinating taxi system. In Casablanca and other Moroccan cities, you can find two primary types of taxis, the petits taxi and the grands taxi. Each city has its own designated taxicab colors, one color for petits and another for grands. Both petits and grands tend to be ancient beaters with manual transmission engines, fueled by diesel. Don't even think about air conditioning.
|Petits taxis at Casablanca rail station|
|Grands taxis in Casablanca|
Both types of taxis are plentiful in Moroccan cities so the fares are pretty reasonable, especially if one does research and is assertive. We took a grands taxi from our hotel to the train station in Casablanca this morning. The hotel doorman told us the fare should be 100 dirhams. When we were underway, we asked the driver about the fare. "150 dirhams," he replied. After we told him the hotel told us to expect 100, he readily agreed to that price.
In our correct compartment, we were seated with Antoine, a charming French national just beginning an internship in satellite communication. His job will take him between Casablanca and Marrakesh over the next two months. Also sharing our little six-seat cubicle was a friendly Moroccan couple. She has relatives in Australia, she told us in English, and her husband said proudly that his wife speaks English, though she protested his assessment. Despite the language barrier, thanks to Antoine, who speaks English, Spanish and German in addition to his native French, we all enjoyed a very interesting conversation over the next three hours as we rolled south through the dry countryside toward Marrakesh.
Tomorrow our time in Morocco will end, as we move on to Italy for the next week or so.