Meknes - Living in Moroccan Time

Trip Start May 30, 2012
Trip End Nov 07, 2012

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We made it to Meknes! With our bags! I had my doubts there for a bit, but we did it. Our map shows that the distance between Chefchaouen and Meknes is about 150km. It took us just about five hours to get there! Quite the cultural experience we had on this travel day. In Morocco there are four main ways to get from city to city if you don't have your own car: CTM coach buses, Souk buses, Grand Taxis (they have Petit Taxis that stay in the city), and trains. Over the course of our stay in Morocco, we took all four. But on this particular journey, we used a combination of the Grand Taxi and Souk bus. The taxi was great. We shared it with two older Berber guys and a cool scruffy looking local. In Grand Taxis, you pay per seat and the taxi driver does not leave until all six of his passenger seats are full. Taxis are pretty cheap, so on the advice of our Chefchaouen hostel owner, we purchased three seats for the two of us. Good idea, because we would have really gotten to know our fellow passengers by being so squished in if we didn't. The driver definitely knew which pedal was the gas. We were flying! This, combined with the narrow winding roads through the Rif Mountains, and it kind of felt like we were on a Rally Car race ride along. The taxi could only bring us halfway to Meknes, so for the next half of the journey we decided to take a Souk bus. This is what most of the population takes if they can't get a taxi, and is the same price as one seat in the taxi. The bus station was an absolute zoo! Everyone yelling in Arabic and the sales guys shoving tickets in everyone's faces. This was one of those times, more so than ever, it would be nice to speak the language. But of course, there were some salesmen who spoke English and quickly switched from Arabic when they saw us. Jess and I really stick out because of our blonde hair, and usually that means we are targets for anyone selling anything to rip us off. I am happy to say that the ticket sales guy charged us exactly the price we were told by the hostel owner, and what we saw everyone else being charged. The bag guy on the other hand, felt he needed some money for opening the compartment door. Every mode of transportation we had taken so far, you don't pay extra for your bags, so we thought he was again trying to exploit the "Americans." He was, but just to make sure he didn't take our bags out and leave them at some random stop, we motioned to him that we would pay him later, when we got to Meknes. He seemed ok with that. The bus ride itself was quite the experience. We could hear gears grinding as we all jolted forward when the driver shifted out of first. More winding roads past farms and little villages. We would stop anywhere and everywhere someone wanted to get on the bus. Then we would pull into some town and the bus driver would turn off the bus and get out for a little bit. A couple times we had to ask someone where we were and if we needed to get out. There were some really helpful and kind passengers with us. The guy behind us was pointing out cool things along the way. The scenery was pretty cool and the whole ride would have very enjoyable, if we knew for sure our bags were still on the bus. Although, Jessica said she was extremely close to throwing up because of the bumpy ride. By the way, we did give the bag guy some money at the end. 

I could write tons more on our Moroccan travel experiences alone, but there is a lot more we did in Morocco then travel. Jess and I were both excited for Meknes, because we got to couch surf!! This was the first of the two times we got to surf in Morocco. Here was our chance to really expereince Moroccan culture in a way that no hostel can give us. We were staying with a 22 year old guy named Jamal, and his two bachelor friends, Yousef and Hameed. Jamal studies and teaches English, and has started his own language school for Arabic, French, and English. Yousef is 25 and makes and fits plastic window and door trims, with a shop on the ground level of their apartment building. Hameed is 32 and teaches French at Jamal's school. The moment we met them all, we could tell this was going to be a fun couple of days. Hameed acts like more of the responsible one, but knows how to have fun too. Jamal is the businessman with attitude and vision. Jamal believes the more everyone knows about each other, the more tolerant they can be with each other. Jamal is very laid back and lives by his own schedule. Yousef can crack you up by just looking at you. He is so random, but very easy to get along with! Yousef is one of the reasons Jess and I came up with the term "Moroccan time" which means nothing is at a specific time, it is just happens whenever it fits in. We didn't just experience Moroccan time with Jamal, Hameed and Yousef, it was everywhere in Morocco. It took some getting used to, but we learned to go with the flow after a few days. Jamal took us to the Meknes medina at night. Previously we hadn't gone out at night at all in Morocco. We didn't feel comfortable enough to, but with Jamal, we felt perfectly fine. It was amazing to see the old city lit up at night. Beautiful city walls with Islamic mosque shaped gates and doors. Jamal took us up to a cafe on a terrace that overlooks the main square in the old medina walls. We could see all the hussle and bussle of the musicians, entertainers, fruit stands, shops, and restaurants. Jess and I went back to the medina and walked around a little bit by ourselves on another day. It was good to know Jamal got hassled just as much as we did when we were by ourselves! The time when we were by ourselves, Jess and I decided to take a city bus back to Jamal's place. Ask us about this ride when we get back. It was another unique Moroccan experience. I also got to play some football in Meknes! The majority of people in Morocco like to play and watch football, so when Jamal heard I like it as well, he tried to arrange a game. Eventually a day and time was set to use the local outdoor field. Jamal and Yousef were able to find enough players and we got a game going. Those Moroccans really do have some footy skills, but I did hold my own. Although, I have realized that no matter how much walking and hiking you do, it doesn't keep you in as good of shape as a football match in the Moroccan sun! Hameed played defense for the team I was on, and by the end of the game, no one was coming back to help him out. It would be a four on one, and sometimes he would still come up with the ball. If it wasn't for him, we would have gotten slaughtered. It was a lot of fun, but we were all very tender the next day.

Another great couch surfing experience to add to our list! We learned so much about the Moroccan way of life. So many more memories we have than what is written here, but we have to save some stories to tell for when we get home. Our next stop is Fes, where another amazing experience awaits us. We get to stay with a Moroccan family!

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Mutti & Father on

You two meet the neatest people, so glad Ryan that you get to play soccer around the world. Miss you both a lot, love always

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