Monday, February 1, 2010

The 12 Hour Tour

I had my first time traveling alone a long distance. I have traveled alone many times before but it was only a half hour here and an hour there. This time I had to go across country by bus, by myself.
I went from my site to Casablanca, Morocco’s biggest city, in order to go to the CTM station there to catch a bus. CTM is Morocco’s national bus line and is the safest and most reliable. No problems what so ever getting into Casablanca and getting to the bus station. I figured if I were to meet resistance it would be here. With everything set I boarded the bus on the way to Azrou. Azrou is on the same longitude with my site but I wasn’t sure what route the bus would take to get there. I was expecting about 5.5 hours in the bus.
We were on the road for not more than 10 minutes when we side swiped a tree and it made a pretty loud noise. It startled me and I thought to myself that this guy should really watch where he’s going. After about 5 more minutes, the bus stopped. We sat there for 30-40 minutes, the whole time me being clueless to what was actually going on. This is pretty much the state I am in about 75 percent of my time here in Morocco. After waiting around for a while everyone began getting off the bus. Luckily a man took the time to explain to me that we had to change buses because the window was broken. I looked to the back of the bus and sure enough hitting the tree broke the back window and another bus had come to take us the rest of the way.
After changing the bus we headed up to Rabat a city north of Casablanca. We picked up more passengers there. After about 40 minutes on the road, as I was trying to nap, I began to hear a ding, ding, ding sound. I tried to ignore it and hoped someone would shut it up soon. A few minutes later I heard the bus stop. The girl, sitting next to me who we picked up in Rabat, looked at me and asked if I needed an explanation. At this point I realized she spoke good English and I was happy. Turns out the bus had broken down and we had to stop again to wait for a THIRD bus to come pick us up. We were about 40 minutes outside of Rabat but there was not a bus free there so we had to wait for one to come from Casablanca, 1.5 hours away. So we waited there on the side of the road for the bus to come. Luckily the sites were beautiful to behold but I was very eager to get to my friends.
Turns out the girl who sat next to me on the bus was a student at an American university in a city near my destination. All classes are conducted in English so her English skills were superb and she was a wonderful person to talk to. She told me that she loves to write and receive letters so we exchanged addresses and I hope to correspond with her.
The bus had to stop in 3 more cites before it got to my destination. I hadn’t eaten very much the entire day so I was weak, tired, and had to use the bathroom. When I finally arrived in Azrou it was 7pm while I expected to arrive at 3:30. When I finally got there I grabbed a taxi and went straight to our hotel. I was so happy to see my friends and relax.
These next two weeks will be training with my entire group that will focus more on the job we will be doing as youth development volunteers. It is also wonderful to be with all my peers to swap stories and get advice for my work. The hotel that we stay in is very homey with 2 fireplaces that keep us warm during these winter months. Azrou is a great city that is beautiful and has lots of coffeeshops to hang out and even a few bars!