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Friday, November 23, 2007

Cooped Up

We've had a few breaks in the unending cold front that seems to have parked itself over northern Morocco. The town of Chefchaoun dried out briefly, allowing us to hike up to the ruins of a mosque on the mountainside overlooking the town.

When we returned to the town, we allowed ourselves to get lost in the winding, cobblestone streets. We passed an old toothless woman, who put her hand to our hearts, mouth and forehead. She was either giving us some kind of blessing, or the evil eye. Later, a woman explained that she was saying 'God is in your heart, your prayers and your thoughts.'

With that blessing, we decided it was time to travel on to Meknes. Instead of taking a bus, we opted to try out a Grand Taxi. When we got to the grand taxi stand, there were many people gathered around a number of different Mercedes in the lot. Asking around, we found one heading to Ouzanne. Basically, you pay $3 and wait for the vehicle to fill up to capacity--meaning two passengers and the driver in the front seat, and four people in back.

Our driver, Mario Andretti, sped along the narrow highway, swerving into the opposite lane when turning corners. But, we made it safely to Ouzanne. We could either squeeze into another grand taxi to Meknes or bus it the rest of the way.

It appeared as though the bus for Meknes would be leaving shortly, so we took that option. I followed the luggage handler around to the other side of the bus to put the luggage under the bus. He opened the hatch, revealing a few chickens that he grabbed by the legs and pulled out...providing room for the bags.

When we boarded the bus, the floor was covered with sawdust. I was half expecting to see more livestock to be honest. The bus waited an excruciatingly long time before it actually pulled out. Three LONG hours and multiple stops later, we finally emerged from the bus in Meknes, the Versaille of Morocco.

More later!

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