Tips for Taking a Taxi in Morocco

Taxis are a relatively cheap way of getting around Morocco, in the city and in between cities. Depending on some things, the experience can vary from fun to frustration or panic. Here are my tips after going through all these states during my seven months in Morocco.

Petit Taxis – in the city transportation, color changes with the city

  • it helps knowing how to greet and say thanks in Darija: Salam Alaykum and Shukran. Say Beslama before you leave.
  • avoid taking a taxi at rush hour or before a call to prayer. You’ll either have a tough time finding a car or find yourself stuck in traffic, which is especially annoying when the driver doesn’t know the address…
  • have a map of the area of your destination. Have it written in Arabic, or at least the street name in Arabic. I lost track of the times when instead of getting where I wanted, I ended up in a completely different part of the city. After some frustration that I couldn’t find any driver with a map of the city – one actually pulled out a tourist map that had only a small part of the city center – I started printing Google maps of my destination. That helped a lot getting there fast and at a fair price.
  • sometimes petit taxis will stop to take someone else that goes in the same direction as you. You can tell the driver not to if you want, it’s your right, but usually it’s common courtesy to not complain. You should definitely complain if the taxi starts detouring. If the driver picks someone else, you won’t be sharing costs. So don’t expect to pay less.
  • if you desperately need a cab but there’s no empty one in sight, stalk one that’s waiting at the traffic light. If it has people inside but it’s not full, chances are you’ll be getting a ride if you’re going in the same direction.
  • taking a taxi at night usually costs you what’s on the meter + 50%

Grand Taxis – in & out of the city transportation, cars are big, white Mercedes Benz

  • know how much you have to pay for the ride. The Lonely Planet guide usually offers a good estimation. The best way is to ask other travelers, if possible without letting the cab driver intervene in the conversation.
  • wait until the grand taxi is full. It’s cheaper to travel in a full car (4+2+driver), and this is the local way to travel. Sometimes the 6th place might be hard to fill, in which case the empty (shared) seat cost is shared amongst the rest of you.
  • there are no seatbelts in grand taxis, and in between cities it can get wild if your driver goes 120 km/hour on a mountain road, rain outside and a cliff on your right. So if your driver doesn’t understand when you tell him to slow down, ask someone in the car to translate it to him (99.9% of the time it’s a him). If that doesn’t work and the image of the car tumbling down the rocks continues to bother you, pretend you have nausea and you’re about to throw up. They usually take good care of their cars. This helped me once.

pro tip #1: if you’re feeling ripped of by the price when taking a grand taxi from the airport, but you’re already on your way to the destination, argue with the driver. This tip is for the people that can raise their voice without raising their temper, which is a way of negotiation in Morocco. It helps knowing an approximate cost for your ride, so you can benchmark your negotiation.

pro tip #2: whatever happens, try to be as positive as possible about the experience. Raging and complaining with a person that doesn’t understand you helps no-one. And passers by that otherwise might want to help, will probably stay away from a person that screams, swears, and gesticulates angrily.

Thoughts on Traveling

Today my friend and business colleague from Morocco, Amine B., asked me why I travel so often and far from home. Why am I far from my family, and why am I not married yet? – it’s not uncommon for people here to get married in their mid twenties.

The question came as a surprise and my frugal response did not satisfy my friend’s curiosity. Neither was I happy with my answer.

So next week when I meet my fried I’ll explain him that it’s learning that I’m seeking and that living and working in different countries has taught me so much.

Living in Slovenia and Belgium allowed me to experience a work environment where trust, fairness and respect were almost unquestionable. It challenged my previous experience and this stuck with me ever since. I’ve taken this values and now they’re with me no matter where I move.

I perceived people in Poland as professional in their work, structured and respectful, while at the same time warm and friendly to strangers. I enjoyed tremendously my six months in Krakow and it’s this kind of structure in the work environment + warmth towards those around you that I’m seeking in the city that I’d like to call home.

Morocco had challenged my work values. As I said before, the structure that I’ve experienced in Slovenia, Belgium and Poland stuck with me, and Moroccans view time a bit… differently. This being said, it’s the country where I’ve met, by far!, the most hospitable people no matter where I’ve traveled. It was incredible to be hosted, fed, and helped by total strangers. From now on, I’ll do me best to replicate this kind of kindness and hospitality no matter where I am.

All these experiences have made me a better person. It’s hard to imagine a better way to become more cultural aware, more assertive (taxi drivers are taxi drivers no matter what country you are in), and more relaxed about cultural differences. Traveling has made me more respectful, more confident, more resilient and more detached. While this post has touched on the personal aspect of living and working abroad, I think it’s just as important to mention that the cultures I’ve experienced made me see things from more than one perspective. I’ve had the opportunity to build a set of skills that are easily transferable to a globalised work environment, and I believe that these skills and behaviors make me a better colleague and leader.

Disclaimer: this post is biased by my optimistic nature. My travel experiences are themselves strongly biased by that. Changing countries is not always easy and pleasant, and I’ve had my fair share of CRAP (Criticism, Rejection, Assholes, and Pressure). The positive aspects, though, greatly outnumber the negative.

Enjoy Freedom By Traveling Light

After finishing my work in Krakow I decided I will return to my thoughts of not owning more than I can carry. This lead to some serious choosing and selecting. Clothes that I spent a lot of time looking for have went into the donation bag or in the bin. One of the advantages of being part of cool organizations is that they constantly print t-shirts for various occasions. It also means sometimes we get attached to these items, as they are the present connection to that past event or person. I had to give up a lot of those, some of which I haven’t used in months.

Tons of advice has been written about packing light. Here are but a few I’ve used:

I like this advice: <<The name of the game in world travel is being “fashionably light.”>>

A tip that I created for my own needs and habits is this one: give yourself time when getting rid of stuff. Take a week, for example, and sort things out for a few minutes each day. Sometimes, what seems important today will look different in the light of a new day.