Monday, May 12, 2008

Hilarity Ensued

Rebecca and I rolled into the Bab Doukkala bus station just past 6:30 am. We were due on a bus bound for Ouarzazate at 7:00 and had arrived early to buy our luggage tags and snacks (essential). It was already a successful day by any measure; we’d wound our way out of the labyrinthine Marrakesh medina and bargained down our taxi fare with two particularly ornery cabbies (ana mashi tourist, dude). Once on the bus our victory would be complete. We’d have made our way back from field trip without a scratch (and one particularly awesome bottle of olive oil richer).

So it was with an air of confidence that we strolled up to the CTM window and asked in our very best Darija for baggage tags for the 7 am to OZ.

“Sorry, that bus is already gone.”
“Haha, yeah. Seriously, its 2 DH, right?”
“It’s 6:40. The bus left ten minutes ago.”
“The bus is gone.”

Ruh-roh. We pulled out our tickets to prove to him the bus left at 7:00, not 6:30. He said it was a printing mistake, and that he’d told us yesterday that it was 6:30. It was here we began to freak out. We spent the next five minutes speaking in particularly broken Darija and French, trying desperately to convince him (and ourselves) that he was wrong. Waloo. We checked our tickets, we checked our phones, we pointed at bus schedules and repeated what few words we knew that would convey just how much we needed our bus not to be 15 minutes down the road.

Desperation had set it. “Oh my god, does Morocco do daylight savings?” “That’s it. I’m calling Julia. I have no idea what just happened.” Then the CTM man smiled and in perfect English replied, “No, no. Safi. Here are your tags. It’s 7:00 am on platform 10.” He looked at our expressions and laughed again. “No, its ok. Your bus has not gone.”

We had been punked. Our rage was very likely tangible, and had it not been for the pane of glass between us I’m not sure CTM man would have lived to see second breakfast. We silently took our tags, forcing weak smiles. “Thanks.” We turned to leave when he tapped the glass.

“I’m sorry. But you know why I say this? It’s because you were here yesterday, and you were very nice and you spoke to me in Arabic. This is why I said this to you. You are very nice.”

We thanked him with a smile, then made for our bus. Looking back later on, we laughed. Our first exposure to what we’ve since learned is ‘Moroccan humor’ had left us no worse for wear. And we had been pegged not because we were easy target (which, lets face it: yes), but because we’d made a good impression. We were touched.

But we still don’t think its funny.

*Note: This entry written in tandem with my pal and fieldtrip-mate Rebecca for the PST newsletter. That we will be placed 16 hours from one another is but a small hurdle to our one day cornering the Moroccan ice cream/coke light market.


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