We met up with Celene and Lydia, third-year college students (from Bennington College and College of Charleston, respectively) in Meknes, Morocco where they are studying abroad this term, and they showed us the ropes. Here’s how to ride a Moroccan bus like a savvy international student in five easy steps:
Step 1. Know your routes. Lots of bus lines cover the same major arteries, so it’s worthwhile to learn all the bus lines that go where you’re going. The less dependent you are on one specific route, the shorter your wait time and the longer you can sleep in without being late for Arabic class.
Step 2. Be pushy. Boarding a Moroccan bus is a full contact sport. As soon as you can read the route number of the bus you’re waiting for, rush toward the spot you predict the bus will stop and, specifically, where the doors will open. Push your way, along with everyone else, to the front and squeeze through the door. Once on board, the pressure from behind will pop you up the steps to the driver like a Champagne cork.
Step 3. Pay. It’s just three dirhams to ride (less than US $0.50), and the driver can even make change! No wonder the busses are so crowded.
Step 4. Hang on to your receipt. Sometimes undercover inspectors board the bus and check fairs.
Step 5. Celebrate. Congratulations! You successfully rode a Moroccan bus. Stop off at the juice bar near your host family’s house on your way home and treat yourself to a strawberry juice. (Just smile, try not to take up too much space, and hope they don’t remember you from the time you accidentally knocked over an entire tray of pastries onto the floor at your feet, ankle deep.)
Grateful to Celene and Lydia for their hospitality, and wishing them both a great spring break,