05 May 2009

The Slow, Hot Exodus: My Trainride From Marrakech to Casablanca

Today was a test of patience. LB + I woke up, ate breakfast (after the woman in charge of the Riad joked that there was in fact no breakfast for us, making me think: just another way to save money, huh?). Then, we found a taxi close to the Ghetto, and took it to the Gare de Marrakech for less than half of what she charged us (cf. with this entry from 2-3 May 2009), then we took some money out of the ATM, bought two tickets for Casablanca + jumped on the train with less than ten minutes to spare. We even got seats this time, with room for our little suitcases! Everything seemed to working really well.

And then the train stopped. . .

And ended up stopping so many times that we actually lost count. And when I say the train stopped, I don’t mean it stopped just for the twelve tiny train stations that peppered the route from Marrakech to Casa. I also mean, that the train stopped intermittently to let other trains race on by, as if to accentuate how slow our train was. It also stopped honestly for no goddamn reason whatsoever. And when it did move, sometime it crawled for forty minutes before stopping again. And then we’d sit there in this incredible heat, the air-conditioné cars actually trapping the heat since there were only a few windows per car and the air-conditioning was imperceptible. LB had to stop herself from passing out + I had to talk to her sweetly + play Nusrat Ali Fateh Kan songs for her on my iPod, sweating my ass off. And what a shame—the view of the Moroccan countryside was stunning too! The real proof that the train ride had become unbearable was when even Moroccans began fanning themselves with their hijabs. By the time the train had mysteriously stopped a mere hundred feet from the L’Oasis station (which is about fifteen minutes from Casa Voyageurs), where it stayed for twenty agonizing minutes, passengers got so sick of the heat that they started hopping off the train en masse. I’m not gonna lie, that train ride sucked ass.

Fortunately, after almost getting mugged in Marrakech, taken advantage of by the women in charge of our Riad + asphyxiated inside our wounded train, Casablanca—with all of its pollution + traffic—was a dream. I practically fell in love with the traffic lights (there aren’t any in the Medina), the wifi in the lounge (ditto), the proximity to places of interest, even the fact that our hotel doesn’t charge us for Moroccan tea. I also like that there aren’t tatterdemalions on every street corner waiting to spring on you, asking for a cadeau, or trying to follow you so they can charge you afterwards. And people like to speak French in Casa. Oh fuck man, what a dream.
After Buenos Aires, I have maybe too much tolerance for dirty cities. Even so, you can see the Atlantic ocean from our balcony + this time our bathroom has a door. They might be simple luxuries, but I fucking appreciate them right now.

Surprisingly, being in Casablanca is great right now. That's something no one ever writes in guidebooks.

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