Road Trips: Gushers and Souvenirs in Morocco

Tips up front:

  1. If you’re stranded in a city and are unable to find a taxi or other transportation back to your hotel, call the hotel.  They can send you a taxi.
  2. If the slimy rental car guy says he’ll repair the giant hole in your rental’s gas tank and bring it right back, demand a different car.

Once upon a time in Morocco, a colleague (let’s call her Carrie) and I flew into Rabat, the capital city, eager to start our work week in an exotic locale.  It was my second trip to Morocco and I was staying a week.  Carrie was a first-timer and would be staying several weeks, therefore she had rented a car.

Please allow me to say that I love Morocco, Rabat, and the Moroccan people in general.  I have enjoyed three trips so far and hope for more.  And the rental car was from an independent vendor (not one of the companies you would recognize).

View from the hotel.

View from the hotel.

Carrie and I arrived at our hotel and settled in.  The rental car guy (let’s call him Slimy) met us at the hotel with a no-frills but operating car—on Empty.  Slimy made your skin crawl, so no surprise there.  Finding a gas station was no problem, and by “station” I mean two pumps outside a dilapidated apartment building with a young man sitting in a folding chair, taking gas money.  I pumped gas and Carrie paid.  Mid-pump, the family filling-up beside us alerted me that gas had started gushing out from under the other side of the car!

Rabat lighthouse.

Rabat lighthouse.

Here’s where we see the exception and the norm when it comes to the Moroccan people.  Norm: Residents of the apartment building let us use their cell phones to call Slimy and invited us in for tea; they couldn’t have been kinder.  Exception: Slimy showed up (sure, at least he showed up) and promised to fix and return the car promptly.  Instead, envisioning a duct tape quick fix, I insisted that he return us to the hotel and provide a different car, which he did, slimily.

Sunset from Rabat.

Sunset from Rabat.

Later that evening, Carrie and I headed across the river to a great souvenir market on the border of Sale (a city I don’t recommend for tourists).  Rookie mistake, we closed the place down without transportation options as we’d taken a taxi, not the rental.  I called our hotel and they cordially promised us that someone would shortly be there to pick us up, phew!  But Carrie and I had one more lesson to learn, for lo and behold, it was a smugly smiling Slimy who came to our rescue!

I am pleased to report that the remainder of my trip, and Carrie’s, proceeded without incident and we are both warier and wiser.

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"...he who does not ask remains a fool forever." ~Chinese proverb

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