Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Taking the Train to Fes

Saidia, Orientale, Morocco
25 04 2012

A Typical Saidia Street, Nice Houses
So the rental car never showed up yesterday.  It was booked for 0800 so we could get an early start on the 350 km drive to Fez or Fes as we are now calling it.  When in Morocco, do as the Moroccans I always say.  When our 0800 car had not shown up by 1200 we called to inquire.

"I forgot" was the explanation.  Your car will be there at 1300.

At 1300 we climbed on the local bus and went downtown.  I had some shorts I needed sewn, they having been caught on a hook on the boat and ripped along almost 12 inches of length.  In the Souq we picked the first tailor and in thirty minutes we had an expert repair.  Total cost: €1.  Plug the 25 cents for the bus ride).

Then we went walkabout the town.  Down one sidestreet we came upon a modern design house being constructed of cement.

The house had some interesting appointments inside so we took a look.  The construction crew, who were mixing all cement by hand using a wheelbarrow and a shovel noticed our interest and gave us a guided tour of the building.

Here is an example of the kind of workmanship you get in Morocco.  The crown mouldings and ceiliings were all formed in place by hand.

Happy with our tour we negotiated a taxi ride to nearby Oujda, a university town and terminus for the rail line which would take us to Fes.

Taxi for four of us to go 70 kliometres to Oujda cost MAD120 or €12.

Train fare to Fes, a five hour 300 mile journey is MAD120 (another €12) each for first class tickets.  Tomorrow we ride the rails to Fes.
There was one slightly unnerving bit to the trip: the highway skirts the Morocco - Algeria border.  This border is lined with armed Algerian fortifications every kilometre or so.  These border posts look like French Foreign Legion forts from the old black and white movies.

Algerian Border Station Shot from a Moving Taxi
In the last photo you see the bottom of a mountain which has a white line painted on it.  This line is the Algerian border.  The taxi driver was nervous about even stopping at the Mirador to let us out.  Message is clear: Stay out of Algeria.  Algeria Does Not Want You.

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