Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Buses Meknes, Morocco, Tuesday, 23 December 2008 10:00pm

I had today marked off on my calendar as a travel day, but I didn't know how right I was. The LP listed the travel time from Chefchaouen to Meknes as 5 hours by bus, which seemed like it was probably a typo. It wasn't a typo.

Part of that might have been that CTM doesn't run buses between the two, and there wasn't anyone selling tickets to Meknes in the train station, just a sign next to an empty ticket stall that listed departures at 14:00 and 15:00, with 12:45 written in in pen.

The bus that was actually in the station at 12:45 was going to Fes, not Meknes, so I looked around a bit and noticed a row of buses parked on the street below the station. I asked there "Meknes?" and was pointed at a bus that was about to leave. I confirmed with the guy selling tickets, and the guy taking luggage, so I got on the bus.

The LP mentioned that there was a big difference between CTM buses and those run by other companies, and it was pretty evident today. CTM has fancy terminals where the buses stop and let people on and off. These buses picked people up and dropped them off at various unmarked places along the road. They didn't usually come to a complete stop, just slowed down enough for people to hop on and off.

CTM has computerized ticketing, the buses I rode today had stubs torn from a booklet. On the second bus, the ticket taker almost got into a fistfight with someone at one of the stops about there being a different number of stubs torn than fares collected.

Oh, yeah, there was a second bus. It turned out that the bus I got on in Chefchaouen didn't actually go to Meknes. I found that out when I asked when we'd arrive. "Not before 6, but you'll have to change at 4". I never actually found out the final destination of that bus, but it dropped me off in Sidi Kacem, where I was given another stub and told that the bus would arrive in five minutes.

CTM has assigned seats. The second bus I rode didn't stop selling tickets when they ran out of seats, which meant that I ended up standing from Sidi Kacem to Meknes (about an hour).

CTM registers your luggage, and gives you a claim check to retrieve it. And they actually check the claim check before they'll let you leave with the bag. The other buses? Just toss your luggage in, and grab it when you arrive.

I think that if I hadn't been paranoid about missing my stop (Meknes turned out to have an actual bus station), and hadn't been paranoid about my bag disappearing, it would have been a fine way to travel. As it was, it made me pretty nervous.

But the sunset tonight was one of the best I've ever seen.