Sunday, October 30, 2011

On the Last Ride

Today I took what will probably prove to be my last ride in a Grand Taxi in Morocco. Like many other times I found myself quite consciously preparing my soul for its final journey. The speedometer on this particular aged Mercedes was broken so I had no way of knowing how fast we were going. But I was keenly aware that the tires were underinflated which caused a fair amount of fishtailing of the back end. I was also aware that school had just let out for lunch so the road was filled with children, bicycles, horse carts, cars and trucks. This made for a nice blend of obstacles to avoid at 140km per hour or so.

One thing that made this drive unique was the hissy-fit our driver threw midway through the trip. As we were barreling along a deserted part of the road, without warning he put on the breaks, pulled the car off the road, got out and walked away. I paused my ipod, took my ear buds out and opened my own door to figure out what was wrong. There I saw him, standing twenty yards behind the car, doing absolutely nothing. As it turns out he was brooding. I went to ask him what was wrong and he told me that in the rear view mirror he had seen in the back seat a Moroccan boy and girl getting too friendly with each other! And this was why we were by the side of the road, doing nothing.

After awkwardly coaxed his reasons for stopping out of him, I realized I had no idea how to handle this situation. So I went back to the car, and explained to the young man in question that I didn’t know what the driver was saying and he had better go talk to him. Which he did, and got an earful! But eventually we were on our way again, hurling towards near death until we safely arrived at our destination.

And I was reminded of another Grand Taxi ride I had taken more then two years previously.  That trip was the first time I realized how frightfully dangerous to life and limb Moroccan transportation was. Luckily we made it out of that situation alive and I took a moment to gather my shredded nerves. Two years later, I didn’t need a moment. I got out of the taxi, thanked the drive and said, “You drive very well.” He smiled.

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