I caught up on some writing in a cafe near the station whilst waiting for my friend Khalid to come and get me. As I was leaving the cafe, the staff called out to Khaled to say that I had to pay, even though I’d only had some hot water. Apparently, they charge 11 dirhams (around EU$1) for using their WiFi, if you’re a tourist. This is specifically a Settat thing, as cafes in other places in Morocco will happily let you sit down and use the WiFi, but in Settat, they feel it’s okay to rip off tourists because they think they have money. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole right now.
Khalid later told me he’d had a similar experience at the same cafe before and it pretty much seems like they think they can get away with being a-holes because they have a reputation for having the best coffee in town. The things people do for coffee.
We hopped in a taxi to go to the district that I’d be staying in and after the taxi had driven off, I realised that my water bottle must’ve fallen out onto the seat. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the taxi number, so Khalid said we could check at the taxi changeover depot later in the day to see if it had been handed in.
Upon arriving at one of Khalid’s family’s homes (they have 2 in Settat), I was greeted with hugs and cheek kisses when I met some of Khalid’s family members. I guess this is the standard greeting for friends in Morocco. How sweet! After a small rest, we went to get some meat from the local butcher. Khalid’s family wouldn’t let me cook, or help them to cook. They insisted that because I was their guest, they had to take care of it for me. Instead, I drank some absolutely delicious fresh mint tea. I could get used to this!
After dinner, Khalid and I went for a walk up a hill to see the sunset and on the way up a couple of boys who were walking a dog called out to me. After they’d asked all the standard questions aimed at foreigners, one of the boys said that I had “beautiful hairs”. On the way back down, Khalid flagged down a taxi to see if we could find my water bottle. The driver told us to get in, despite the fact that he already had a passenger onboard. Apparently, taxis in Settat will take as many passengers as they can carry, then the driver will just decide what each person pays when they want to get out.
Upon finding the depot closed, we walked to the main square to check out a local craftmaker fair that was happening, before searching some local shops for a small Moroccan flag to add to my collection. After walking around the town for a bit, we went back to the friendly butcher man to get some sirloin steak which was freshly cut for a miniscule fee and then cooked up for my dinner.
Schedule? What Schedule?
The next morning, after eating the breakfast that the family had so kindly prepared for me, we headed to the station, with a quick stop off at the taxi depot, which was only about 100m from the station. Unfortunately, my bottle wasn’t there, but there were a heap of other things like keys, bags and other miscellaneous things that had been left in taxis.
Once at the station, we had to wait in line for a while, so by the time we got to the ticket window, it was 3 minutes after the scheduled departure time for the train that was yet to arrive. We waited on the platform for a further 6 minutes before it arrived. The delays didn’t end there either. About 20 minutes into the trip, the train just stopped in the middle of nowhere for 30 minutes. Almost as suddenly as it had stopped, it started moving again, albeit it very slowly, only to stop again just 10 minutes later, for an hour! A few more random stops along the way turned a 3 hour train trip into a 5 hour train trip. I guess the arrival and departure times indicated on the timetable are only suggestions.
At the end of the train line in Marrakech, I had to transfer to a bus at the bus station behind the train station. The driver ushered me on to the bus and I took my seat thinking that it would be leaving soon, but of course, I wasn’t to be that lucky! I guess the bus driver was waiting for the bus to fill up, so I was sat there for nearly an hour before we moved. It seemed my half day trip had now turned into an almost full day trip. This is Africa.
More Moroccan knowledge
– schedules really, really don’t mean a thing
– Moroccan families just can’t do enough for their guests