“I am sorry, the next train to Azemmour leaves tomorrow morning at 6am.”This was exactly the last thing we wanted to hear from Casablanca’s airport train ticket salesman.
We had landed in Morocco a couple hours earlier, after making our way through customs and post-flight security checks, we found the office of our car rental company: closed. There was a phone number listed on the door for an occasion such as this, which we called. The man who answered assured us he was on his way; we were to expect him in just five minutes. After a solid hour and a half, and many more unanswered calls to that number, we gave in and inquired about catching a train to the tiny village where a (hopefully) cozy Airbnb bed was awaiting our arrival. It was now late and we were out of luck. With no other options, we spent the night attempting sleep while being dodged by floor sweepers and circling security guards.
Once we made it to, and were settled in Azemmour, we decided to try our luck again. With more donkey carts selling fresh produce than actual grocery stores in town, we knew this was going to be a challenge; we’d need to branch out.
While exploring nearby El Jadid we were able to find the one rental car company in town: closed. There was a phone number listed on the door for an occasion such as this, which we called. The man who answered assured us he was on his way; we were to expect him in just five minutes. Now, I know what you are thinking, I thought it too, sounds familiar. But in an actual five minutes a man came and assisted us. In a mix of broken confusing-as-hell French and English, we were able to make a deal about renting a car. The only problem was, he didn’t have any cars… but his cousin’s brother’s friend’s business did (if I got the translation on that correctly). He asked for a cash deposit and we asked for a receipt, which genuinely perplexed him. After some explaining on our part, he was able to produce a handwritten post-it note, garnished with the ink only stamp he could find in the desk drawer, as a receipt. He would personally deliver the car to our Airbnb the next morning.
Almost surprisingly, that is exactly what happened. In no time we were in our rental car and on the open road. We followed the GPS, as the road grew more narrow and the blacktop turned to gravel, I realized having a car in Morocco was 100% worth every ounce of effort it took to acquire it. The rolling green farmland, jagged coastal cliffs, red-gold arid mountains, an ancient abandoned fortress: each scene that flooded through our windshield was more stunning and exhilarating than the last. Dodging donkeys, overcrowded mopeds, and crater sized potholes were constant reminders that we weren’t in Kansas any more. Morocco is a beauty which quenches your thirst while simultaneously scorching your soul, leaving you wanting more.
Our time in Morocco ran out much quicker than our attention span, as is easily the case in exotic, far away lands.
So at the agreed upon time we waited in front of our Airbnb for the gentleman to come pick up his car. Having learned that Moroccans are less-than-punctual we gave him an hour grace period before we finally called. He answered and assured us he was on his way; we were to expect him in just five minutes. But from the sound of his voice, I am pretty sure we had just woken him up.