On Saturday we went on a group trip around Meknes and saw an underground prison used by many different occupants of Morocco, and some castles and some other things. Our language partners tagged along with us so I spent the entire day speaking in Arabic with my language partner, Majda. She is incredible and I ended up spending way more time with her this week than required.
Then on Sunday, it was an adventure. Our rough plan was to go hiking in Azrou. I didn’t have any hand in the planning, I was just tagging along, which is super out of character for me. Helen and I took a petit taxi* to a taxi station where we waited for everyone else to come, then we took an hour long grand taxi** ride to Azrou (which was a hassle, see below) then grabbed lunch in Azrou and then took another grand taxi ride to a mountain area where we saw wild (ish) monkeys and went for a small hike.
We had to pay the taxi drivers to bring us out to the mountain and then pay them to wait 2 hours and then bring us back to Azrou. This is because taxis don’t just hang out at the place waiting to bring people home (maybe some do, but it is REALLY expensive to take those because they know you have no other way of getting back). One of the taxi drivers that we paid to wait for use (cause we had to take 2 taxis, remember) told us he knows this area pretty well and would take us for a walk around. At first we were skeptical, because sometimes people offer to help you but expect high compensation, or end the “tour” at their friends’ shops and make you feel obligated to buy something. However, he was really great and didn’t expect any of that from us. He took us on a great walk and told us the name of the types of plants and took a picture of our group near the top of the hill we walked and was really great to chat with (yes, all in Darija).
We then took the taxi back to Azrou, then took grand taxis (this time filled with random people because Meknes is a more popular destination), and then Helen and I walked through the the souk in Meknes before heading home for the night.
A bit hectic, but overall great day.
*Petit Taxi: a metered taxi, max. 3 people, usually used to go to and from very specific places
**Grand Taxi: Taxis with a specific route, fixed costs depending on route and you pay for a seat in the taxi like on a train or something, max. 6 people. i.e. we took a grand taxi from Meknes to Azrou because there aren’t busses or trains that go there, and unfortunately we had 7 people, so we had to split up into groups of 4 and 3. Grand Taxis are shared taxis, so its cheapest to fill the entire taxi either with your own friends, or wait for strangers who want to go to the same place, if no one shows up that also want to go to your destination you have to pay for all the other seats that aren’t taken. No one else was going to Azrou this morning, and because we had too many people to fit in just one grand taxi (no, you can’t just squeeze), we had to pay for two entire grand taxis including the seats that weren’t taken.