84: Taxis

I have mentioned grande taxis before, haven’t I? There is this interesting system of transportation in Morocco that is known as the taxi system, consisting of grande (big) and petit (small) taxis. Petit taxis operate intracity – or within the city where they are located, They are all painted the same color in each city – a different color for each city. Maybe this is so the drunks will know where they are. Grande taxis operate intercity, or between cities, and again, they are each painted the identifying color of their home city, again, different for each city, AND different from the petit taxis in that same city. The drunks in Morocco have a hard time.

The etiquette in the grande taxis is interesting, since seven people are squeezed in the same space designed for five. It is a little bit like being in an elevator in New York City, when there is a 90% off sale on the top floor. People squeeze in, and deliberately do not speak or make eye contact with the human they are pressed up against, full body contact. Everyone idiotically pretends that there is NOT another person anywhere around, in spite of being able to feel the other people BREATHE. And, unlike most elevator rides, which last at most a bare few minutes, a grande taxi ride to even the next village takes twenty minutes – to the next city at least forty-five minutes. Squished up against a total stranger.  Feeling them breathe. And, sometimes, smelling them, and wishing that they had remembered to get their weekly bath the day before they got into this taxi with you. I kid you NOT. Cologne is one thing, but sheep poop is another matter entirely.

This very nice lady, dressed in a white d’jellaba, was beside me on one of my trips to work (twenty minutes). It was quite apparent that she had completed her sheep milking chores earlier that morning, and had not changed her shoes, or her d’jellaba. I could see the brown smears on the hem of her robe, and my nose let me know she was in a sheep-owning family even if my eyes had not already identified the origin of the brown smears. Now, I respect working people, and that lady obviously had been working hard that morning. So, I just tried not to breathe, and kept my mouth shut. What good would speaking up have done?

At least she did not keep sneaking her elbow into my lap, like one guy did. I will be glad when our wrecked car is repaired, and I don’t need to take the taxi every day!


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