Best taxi ride ever…Rabat, January 21, 2014

Best Taxi Ride Ever, January 21, 2014, Rabat, Morocco
I arrived in Rabat at 6 am after taking the cramped night bus from Essaouria. It was still dark so I hung out in the station cafeteria where the waiter tired to rip me off royally, and after I complained, ripped me off only somewhat. We tourists always had to be on guard for that. With light, I exited the station, and seeing no tourists at all, knew only that I wanted to go near the train station for tomorrow’s train to Fes. I asked someone and they said the Medina, which seemed to be the center of all the cities. I asked another man who seemed to be concerned, how to get to the Medina. Taxi, expensive, group taxi, only 5. I headed over in the direction he vaguely pointed and saw a number of old white taxis, being filled up. I had heard about group taxis but never taken one. After numerous misdirections, I finally found one that the driver agreed was going to the Medina. I started to get in, but he objected because of my bags. But I had learned how to sit with all my bags on me without taking up anymore space. The man insisted. Police police. I put my big bag reluctantly in the trunk, but wanted to hold my saxophone Again he insisted. No no.i insisted, saxophone. yes yes, he insisted. We were almost the end, he won. I complained loudly and squeezed in the front seat. I handed the man a 5 dirham coin. He looked at it and shrugged. It was the right fare. How did the tourist know that? As we were driving,ma man in the back spoke up. You see it’s illegal to carry luggage in the cab, the police will stop him. I see I said, and is it illegal to have 7 people in a cab. Only 6 he sheepishly admitted. The driver turned to me. Music? He questioned. Yes, saxophone. Cat Stevens, he happily sang out. Everyone laughed. Cat Stevens, former rock star turned devout Muslim was a hero in Morocco. People used to tell me that a young me looked a bit like a young Cat Stevens. The taxi driver looked at me sadly, “police, no bags”. I understood. I accepted his apology and we shook hands. He handed me the 5 dirham coin back. What a sweet guy. His goofy smile was irresistible. I took the coin and for no reason at all I started singing Cat’s biggest hit, Moonshadow. Everyone in the car started moving to the music. They all knew it. We were 6 guys and a boy driving through the streets of Rabat singing. For some unexplained reason,mthe young boy threw up. Maybe it was my singing. The back seat emptied out, some cleaning was done, and they piled back in. I stopped singing. the boy looked green. After 20 minutes we arrived at the old Medina and got out. The driver stepped out too and asked if he could buy me some tea at the stand nearby. I declined, it didn’t look very clean. Anyway, he had done enough. I waved goodbye. He motioned for me to stay. He pointed at my saxophone and made a gesture. He wanted me to play. I took it out right there where all the taxis were waiting, and played Moonshadow. Everone looked over and smiled and started moving. The man was looking around the taxi stand happily. He had created an event. That done,I packed my horn up, and waved goodbye. It was the best taxi ride ever. I had to find a room to dump my stuff and then the capital city of Morocco, Rabat, lay before me, waiting to be explored.


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