Every day on the road, can’t be wonderful news experiences, great stories and picturesque backgrounds that should appear in travel magazines. Getting from Casablanca to Asilah has now become a war of attrition, since I have re-discovered that if there is any significant rain in Morocco, it has the effect of paralyzing most modes of public transport. In Toronto, 2 inches of snow can cripple the city, whereas in Montreal 12 feet of snow is a normal day in the park, different people react differently to weather conditions. The rain that I am seeing here, would be a day in the park for most Trinis, yet in a country of contrasts, the rain makes things work in super slow motion here.
Getting from Casablanca to Asilah normally requires getting the train, and it simply drops you in the Asilah train station. Add any rain, and your options become infinitely more complicated. Today’s weather rerouting mean that I have to take the CTM bus from Casablanca to Tangiers, then find a “Grand taxi” that will take me to Asilah and hope that the “Grand Taxi” will drop me off at the hotel that I have booked. In a stroke of good luck, the CTM station happened to be around the corner from the Sheraton Casablanca.
If one attempts to compare getting around Morocco, to getting around Spain/Germany/England etc, then you’re in for a rude awakening. Everything here runs on Moroccan time, so things leave on time but arrive “late-ish” – time seems to disappear on transportation here.
Typical way of getting from Casablanca to Asilah
- ONCF Trains leave 4 times daily from Casablanca and stop off in Asilah (1st class fare is 210 dirhams)
Atypical way of getting from Casablanca to Asilah
- ONCF trains to Tangiers leave 5 times daily (6 1/2 hrs, with no stop in Asilah, then head from Tangerville train station, on another train back to Asilah (Bad weather creates a condition where they cannot stop at Asilah … this defies logic … but I’m in Morocco)
- Take CTM bus from Casablanca to Tangiers (5 1/2 hours in good weather, 1000 hrs in bad weather – 130 dirhams), once in Tangiers, negotiate with a “Grand Taxi” and prepare to be herded like cattle with a couple other Moroccans into an old, beige, beaten up Mercedes Benz and enjoy the ride. You can also negotiate like me, and pay 200 dirhams to jump into a taxi, avoid the rainstorm and be at your hotel, nice and warm in time for dinner.
The other thing one notices when traveling at night in Morocco, is the lack of street lights and any sort of illumination on the highways here. It’s a normal part of driving here – which is why foreigners shouldn’t attempt to drive here until becoming reasonably habituated with the Moroccan social contracts of driving.