Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Moroccan Bus System Rule Book

Since we have become common travelers here in Morocco, we wanted to compile a rule book for those interested in traveling by bus in this beautiful and vast country. (Note worth mentioning: we are not refering to CTM or the national bus lines but the various denominatory bus companies that run locally throughout Morocco.)

When arriving at the station there may be as many as 10 different companies covering different lines and areas of Morocco. If your lucky enough to find a destination timetable in english be sure to read it from right to left NOT the other way. However, the best thing to do is to ignore it completely, look for the guys taking money from passengers (never bother going to the counter) and tell him where you want to go. He'll tell you what time the bus comes (in french) and sell you a ticket.

While you wait for your bus to arrive into the main bus station, there are many beggars huddling around. When your bus arrives and you get into your seat (and just as the bus is setting off on its route), at least 3 beggars (as they take their respective turns) come on the bus and ask for change from all the passengers.

Outside of the main bus station, there is no specific etiquette for getting on or off the bus. Simply clap your hands twice for the next desired stop and the bus will ease to a steady speed of 20 km/hour and you will either be told to jump off or jump on.

If one does not have a companion in the next seat or a music headphones, there is always ample noise on the bus to provide entertainment: a jukebox blasting music at an anstounding frequency, a screaming sermon in Arabic observed by passengers in complete silence, men and women shouting to their neighbor friend who they haven’t seen for many years, casual loud conversations on the cell phone or unhappy toddlers kicking and screaming in their seats.

The bus will stop for 15 minutes every 5-50km. This stop will usually be in some obscure town in the middle of nowhere. Once you are spotted by a local you will be greeted and asked a variety of questions and then told that you have entered a beautiful town must stay and enjoy yourself. Just smile humbly (since you have heard this a million times in the most remote areas of Morocco) and say no thanks, you're in a hurry but will come back next year, inshAllah.

The temperature in the bus is mindblowing and an air-conditioned vehicle is unheard of. If the windows aren’t broken then you are lucky to get a cool breeze.

The local bus (our particular favorite) will stop at mere sight of a person waiting on the road, which usually lengthens your journey considerably.

People are very willing to share food with you and it is a custom to give a bit to your neighbor. We have figured out another benefit: in the end you have a friend that will look out for you (possibly in an altercation with a hussler who is trying to get you off the bus so he can rip you off and leave you penniless).

Women and children are always provided a seat when the bus is full and baggage never seems to fit into the overhead compartment and they charge you extra to store it in the trunk so you are usually forced to be squeezed in with everyone’s bags and suitcases.

When a bus passes a village or a small city, people on the streets wave to wish a safe journey for its passengers.

The Moroccan people will talk to anyone and everyone, even if there isn’t a common language between each other.

The bus always respects the 60 km/hour speed limit but the engine will never make it past 45 km/hour.

Picking one’s nose on the bus is necessary (in case there is a sand storm outside and the windows must be open in order to ventilate the incoming dust) and is often expected.

The buses NEVER arrive, leave or get you to your destination on the expected time.

Overtaking a slower car can often takes on the form of a game of chicken with an oncoming truck, which the bus driver always loses because the truck driver is fearless.

The bus will usually break down at least once and if one is lucky the bus driver will bring life back to the vehicle. The passengers in these cases are rarely in a bad mood or in a hurry and will usually laugh at the circumstance.

In conclusion, under no circumstance should you get angry or offended at any of the above. This will only expediate the situation and make you appear uncivil and ungrateful. One MUST, if one is to remain sane, laugh at the above intricacies and enjoy the ride.


Vinnie Docken said...

You know, I was extremely sorry to have missed your call yesterday! I was shooting for Fox Soccer. I ran into a gent from York who informed me that Leeds took a hammering and was bumped down to the next league beneath Premeire.

I've really been enjoying the blog posts and the international jetsetting bri-guy pics that you have been
sending me.

I have noticed that Tom's shirt is always the yellow one, but Zhenia seems to be wearing different(I like to call them clean)clothes all the time.
I can't wait to see you guys in Thailand....!!! Hell Yeah!!!

Brooklyn is the same...all the bartenders say hi. Casey still has no job and neither does Phil. I've been shooting everyday and actually need a break. Again. I'll write more later. I miss you guys... I know you are having sooooo much fun!!


Glenn & Vicky Williams said...

Loved your pictures. We are following your journey. Have you pick up some 'arabiyya?



Rick said...

I have been keenly following your blog. I think it makes for more interesting reading than my diary, which I received back by the way. Looks like you're having a great time. Things same as in old Blighty. Fooled around with Martin and the BSP boys in Brighton week before last. Stayed up all night and tried to charm that cute indie chick you saw the night of Silver Jews. In the middle of painting Sidford House living room but is taking an age. Stripped woodchip paper from ceiling and scrubbed off that yellow wallpaper paste stuff. Probably going out on the razzle with work folk tonight and going to The Derby in Epsom tomorrow. Grandad will be pleased.

Zhenia, I think you should have let Tom keep the moustache. Every man needs a hobby.

Odysseus and Co. said...

We found the below tend to work wonders with most Moroccans:

Ana Inglizi (I am English)
Ana min Ukrania (I am Ukranian)
Musha Rafin (Please to meet you)
Bssallama 'lekum (Goodbye)
Ssallama 'lekum (Hello)
and my favorite....Makayn Mouchkil (No problem)