We were driving through a small town on the first day with our rental car in Morocco. I was carefully following the speed limit signs, so when the limit dropped from 60 km to 40 to 20, so did I. Then suddenly there was a stop sign, completely unexpected. And suddenly I was on the other side of it, with a police car in the rear view mirror. Oops.
Some kind of check point, I guess. So I pulled over, looked back. Not much happening there. Paula urged me to go on, so, with thoughts of a similar experience in Mexico in mind, I did.
For the next half-hour, as we wound our way through the countryside, I kept glancing back, half expecting to see red lights flashing.
A day or so later we came to another check point, with a nasty-looking radar gun mounted on a tripod. I'm thinking, here's where they check my license plate and take me in for questioning. But no.The tall, good-looking gendarme asked where we were from, and after establishing that we spoke English, raised his voice happily and said, "Ah, English! I love English! If English were a woman, I would marry it!" (Really!) and waved us on.
Now the rental car has been returned, and is perhaps satisfying some other traveler's need for transport. We are happy to be afoot in the narrow winding pathways of the Fes Medina. But its time to move on; we've bought out tickets to Chefchaouene and our bus leaves at 11. We said our goodbyes to Said, the owner of the riad where we stayed, and to the coffee seller on the corner. Now we need a taxi to the bus station in the New Town.
There's plenty of the little red "petit taxi" on the street, but they all have passengers. A fellow in a little white van stops, offers us a ride. How much? we ask. Fifty, he says. Nope. We know a regular taxi is less than 16 Dirhams, or $2US. Since we see no available little red taxis, we finally agree to 20. We clamber in with our bags and go about 20 feet when we are stopped; an arm reaches in and removes the key. It's the long arm of the law. Turns out this fellow was not authorized to take passengers in his little white van.
So we surrender our passports, explain we have a bus to catch, and stand by as phone calls are made, discussions are held, and the hapless driver explains, hey, I'm just tryin' to make a living here! I'm pretty clear that this really has nothing to do with us, we just don't know any better. I hope the cops see it the same way....
After more discussion, more cell phone calls, the cop finishes copying down info from our passports. He comes over to me and points to the pages with our birth dates. Paula and I were both born in the same year! He laughs good-naturedly at that, returns our passports, and in a few minutes has flagged down a petit taxi for us.
We arrive at the bus station in plenty of time, the taxi's meter showing 10.6 Dirhams (we gave the driver 12). We never found out what happened to the guy with the little white van. We get on the bus, and leave Fes behind.
|The type of taxi we should have taken (shown here blocking the city bus, which is in the process of doing a three-point turn, assisted by several passersby)|
All for now