We decided to take a public bus into a random Marrakesh neighborhood, away from the tourists in the old walled city, just to see what it was like. It was such an interesting experience – I’d recommend any traveler take a public bus outside the tourist zone to get a real feel for a place.
We used a large bus stop area just outside Jemaa el Fna (the main square) as our starting point. It took us a while to read the maps, but we finally picked a line that looked like it went by a mall or commerce center. Our hope was that we wouldn’t be left in the middle of nowhere! We picked bus line number six, with the Massira III neighborhood as the end of the line. (Google map here for reference.)
The ride was interesting.
It cost four dirham, or about 40 cents. We went in the afternoon, and the other riders were mostly women because men were at work. The bus passed supermarkets, shopping centers, a couple of office buildings, many apartment buildings, and then we ended up in regular neighborhoods until finally the bus stopped at the end of the line.
There wasn’t much there – it looked like any neighborhood. This one just happened to be a Marrakesh neighborhood. There were some apartment buildings, small shops, a couple of convenience stores.
We went into one convenience store and bought a large container of a yogurt drink, along with a couple of small chocolate cakes. We sat at a table in the front with our chairs facing the sidewalk, and we snacked.
I turned around and waved goodbye when we were done. I saw three Moroccan men watching us with great interest from behind the counter. They broke into big smiles when I waved and returned “au revoirs”. Tedly and I left, and we mused they probably don’t get too many Caucasians in their store —
let alone Caucasian travelers who sit down at their tables to eat and relax.
We strolled down the main road. We stopped for another snack of sugared, fried dough that was still hot, and that felt good in the cold air, chased down by the last of our large yogurt drink. (Yes, Marrakesh can be in the 40s or 50s in January.)
We strolled down the main street in this Marrakesh neighborhood and made our way back to wait for the return bus to our ‘hood. It was rush hour on the way back. The bus was packed with mostly young men. (Seventy percent of the country is under 30 years old.)
We picked a good route to explore. We passed by some of the key areas in the modern part of the city, including a McDonald’s and a Starbucks. It was the first time we saw those signs in Arabic, as well as English.
There was a time on the ride back when Tedly half-joked with me not to speak English so loudly. It was a tad intimidating to be among people who had different beliefs, customs, and language. And their apparent surprise at our presence was a little … weird.
That said, I never felt in danger in any way.
Doing this little adventure for a couple of hours in a random Marrakesh neighborhood was a good thing for me. It again showed me: people are the same despite different looks or customs or religions. We’re all human, and we’re all trying to get by and live a good life.
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