Monday, June 22, 2009

The train to Casablanca

After being shuttled through Moroccan customs, the next order of the day was to get myself to Casablanca where my tour group would be meeting. While several worldly Moroccans had advised that I take a first class bus somehow the Crosby Stills and Nash song about taking the Marrakesh Express kept ringing through my ears and I grabbed a petit taxi to the train station. Within minutes of my arrival I found myself on the 11 am train that would eventually connect to a Marrakesh bound one. I bought a second class ticket with hopes of mixing more with the locals.. In one moment I was part of a lively conversation with a soccer referee, a college student and a businessman. I hadn't spoken French in years and somehow it rolled off my tongue. The air conditioning was out and veiled women gazed shyly in my direction. At one moment I became captivated by a sleepy woman sitting across from me. Her veil kept slipping off and her long pink caftan looked hot and itchy. Her husband would periodically fan her her face and rearrange her garb. In an idle moment I snapped a photo. Her husband caught me in the act and demanded that I erase it. I complied. Then he grabbed my camera and inspected the remaining photos to be sure I would not be able to take his wife's likeness with me. The train took a circuitous route through Rabat rather than following the coastal bus route and I arrived in Casablanca six hours later sweaty and pretty culture shocked.

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