On a recent trip to Marrakech I became tired at being fleeced by all and sundry. This was especially true of taxi drivers who will use your geographical ignorance to charge more than you would pay for a similar length of trip in a London Black cab if you're not careful. And they tend to get quite aggressive if you have the neck to negotiate – even though you're doing so nicely. Thus I resolved to make a planned trip to Cascades d'Ouzoud (well worth it by the way) by public bus rather than taxi. In most ways this was a good way to travel – all Moroccans, no tourists, rooster in cage on roof, altogether much more interesting than a more tourist-oriented option.
What I discovered, though, is a vast difference in condition of buses. Some look quite together and well, if creatively, maintained. The one we got on was falling apart – and that's by Moroccan standards. It's typical to see some quite creative repairs on Moroccan cabs and buses but this thing had repairs on top of repairs to the point where it was hard to tell what was holding what together. It seems the same buses tend to do the same journey times day in day out. We were on the same bus on the way back two days later (it was later in the day but this made sense as it was the return leg of the journey). This time the dilapidation started to show up big time. The windscreen shattered, showering everyone at the front in glass and, ten minutes later one of the side windows fell out. Even the locals were a bit perturbed by the state of the bus in question! If this kind of thing worries you it may be best to go to the bus station a day before you plan to travel. Find the bus that's going where you are headed and talk to the driver or ticket man to ask if the same bus will be running at the same time the next day. If the bus looks sufficiently knackered that you don't think you can stomach a trip in it you can then change your plans accordingly.
In the end we all got back in one piece but it wasn't a trip of the feint of heart.
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