The Moroccan Mafia Fiasco

If there's one skill you need to survive in Morocco, it's how to ride a Grand Taxi!

Taking a taxi in North America is a luxury! You call one of several companies, they show up where you ask them to be, they take you to your destination, and most importantly...taxis are not shared and you only pay at the end of your trip when the driver is not driving!

I had been exposed to taxis in Egypt and Iran before, so Moroccan Grand Taxis were not really a surprise to me! Two people sit in the front seat (often reserved for women, and what I'd try to snag!), and 4 were in the back. No seat-belts of course, windows rolled down, drivers not abiding by lane markers, honking and swerving, and the funniest part? How everything from Michael Jackson to Justin Bieber to covers of popular dance songs would blare from the radios! It felt so surreal and made me really wonder where I was!

So this is how the process would go four times a day: I'd walk over to a collection of taxis and tell a driver where I wanted to go. They then pointed me out to the appropriate taxi. The taxi would NOT leave until 6 people were inside, so my trip really depended on other commuters. I was able to pay for another seat if you wanted to get things going, and at 4 Dirhams a spot (0.50 CAD!), you could, but I never did...since I lucked out and had other passengers smush in with me around the same time!

So the driver would pull out and start the drive, and I'd always have my money ready in my hand, and do what other passengers would do: Say 'Bismillah' ("In the name of Allah") and hand the driver the money! I now understand why 'Bismillah' is the term of choice to use, because the freakiest part would be when the driver would reach to GRAB CHANGE while still driving, and I don't always mean from the dash board, but from other places that required reaching and eyes being taken off the road! At this point, you just really have to not stress out, hold onto something (or someone!), and pray that you arrive safely!

And then there was this afternoon on my way to the Ennour Centre, that I had the fortune of sharing the taxi with (I SWEAR!) Moroccan Mafia members. How could I tell they were mafia? Well, the three men (two in the back and one in the front) were larger in size, wore impeccable suits, were tanned with neatly trimmed moustaches, and sported Ray-Ban type sunglasses. They also never smiled or spoke during the entire taxi ride. Oh and what really got me? They didn't try to keep upright during turns the taxi took, so they'd push the lady next to them into me, causing me to squish against the door of the taxi to a point where I thought I'd cause the door to bust open! Not cool!

And then the biggest hint was that they used large bills to pay for their ride...while here I was using my 5 Dirham coin like the tourist I was! Maybe they were showing off by using their 50 Dirham note? Or perhaps they were paying the taxi driver extra money for transporting a dead body in the trunk?! I swear I heard 'thud' like noises coming from the back during sharp turns!

Now that I think back, I should have done what a friend suggested and asked them for a donation for the day centre! Something along the lines like "I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse!" Maybe if I wore a Niqab (i.e. the face covering that accompanies the head scarf) that day and dressed all in black, they'd mistake me for a ninja and actually be scared enough to pull out some bills from their wallets!

So the lesson to learn from the Moroccan Mafia Fiasco? Always keep an eye out when riding taxis in Morocco! But most importantly? Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride!! :)

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