Transit in Morocco: A Symphony of Its Own

Marshall Hastings
Assistant Sports Editor

 

 

 

The light changed and the symphony began. All around us the chorus of horns erupted. All at different pitches and different tempos, the horns rang out in an off tempo concerto.

At anxious intervals the music continued to blare until finally we lurched forward. Buzzing past the red taxi, a second chorus broke out. A choir of Arabic was tossed from car to car, all in disgust over the taxi driver sitting, giving directions, in the middle of the street. As if weaving through a minefield, we sped through the city streets, avoiding pedestrians and poorly     driven cars.

Peculiar cell phone ads with overly excited photo actors decorate the skyline. With a smile the size of a six year olds on Christmas morning, the actor displayed a cell phone for 200 durhams a month (the equivalent of 22 USD), all while pointing a giddy finger at the world.

We bobbed and weaved through traffic until again coming to a halt at a red light. After a matter of seconds, the light switched to green and as if assuming the driver at the front of the line is blind, the horns burst again. At different tempos and frequency, the air was filled with the hot Moroccan air and the sound of short and long honks alike.

The impatience on the Moroccan roads can be realized with just a few seconds of driving. Four cars pack closely together, all desperate to squeeze into one two-lane road. Cars stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason, receiving verbal Arabic beatings from the drivers passing by, all while holding a face and tone of innocence.

Pedestrians disregard sidewalks and cross through the heart of busy intersections, standing in the center of the road, juking through traffic to reach the other side, all to the same symphony of horns that are heard at the stop lights.

Taxis dart away from the curb at a hurried pace, inserting themselves into traffic with nearly no regard for oncoming traffic, sending the cars behind them swerving into the next lanes.

If Manhattan traffic is a madhouse, Casablanca traffic is a zoo. Mopeds and motorcycle’s packed with three to four people dart through oncoming traffic, narrowly missing opposing cars and speeding back into the right lane.

Buses force their way through oncoming traffic attempting to make a turn. Cars sit in turning lanes, angering the drivers behind them, just trying to change lanes.

Horns aren’t used every so often when a driver really gets under your skin. They’re used at every light when a driver ahead of you can’t properly predict when the light will turn green and sits there for a second instead of a half-second. They’re used when the pedestrians attempt to meander their way through intersections.

They’re used when taxis try to pick up a costumer trying to avoid crossing through the unpredictable streets.

Horns blare when the old man ahead of you doesn’t have the same know-how he did when he is younger and sits awkwardly in traffic. When you try to tell your driver that he is old and doesn’t know what he is doing, your driver is quick to let you know he has no business being on the road. Makes sense.

See, when you’re told that driving in Casablanca and Morocco as a whole can be dangerous, it’s an understatement. If you don’t know what you’re doing, if you don’t have the guts to get yourself into the proper lane and on the better road to use that blessed horn of yours then driving in Morocco can be a death wish.

It’s a different world driving in Morocco. It’s a delicate, dangerous, beautiful world, filled with symphonies with no lyrics, and lyrics with no music. It’s its own monster, it’s own beauty, its own world.

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