Sometimes, getting lost is as simple as pulling up Google Maps or asking a friend for directions. But on a taxi ride where you barely speak the driver’s language — Arabic and Darija — finding your way becomes a lot more complicated.
Coming from downtown Agadir, Morocco, my two friends and I stood on the sidewalk looking down the mildly-busy road for an empty taxi. I had received a message prior to this and was in a relaxed state of mind. I observed the city life — the colors, the sounds, the sights — all while calmly thinking about getting back to our host school.
The white taxi pulled up and we piled into the back seat. While my one friend, Alexis, spoke to the driver in French, the other, Cheyanne, pulled up the address on her phone. I wasn’t too concerned but I did know the school could be hard to find. When we realized the driver, a middle-aged man with a friendly air about him, did not speak much French, Cheyanne spoke with him in Arabic but the situation only got more confusing from there.
After pulling over to ask for directions, the driver understood what area the school was in, so we decided to give him step-by-step directions once when we got closer.
We were now on our way and decided to make the best of the situation by striking up a conversation with the driver. At this point, I had been taking Arabic for three weeks, not enough to say more than “I am a student,” “I am from America” and “I study journalism.” However, Cheyanne had studied Arabic for a year and knew the language better than I. As Cheyanne began a conversation, I tried to listen to familiar words. After asking the basics, such as “Where are you from?”, Cheyanne asked, “Madtha loonha almufadil?” Suddenly, the driver began laughing. He turned back to look at us and continued laughing. Cheyanne joined in with him while I looked over at her, somewhat confused. “What did you ask him?” I said to Cheyanne. She responded with, “What his favorite color is.”
About five minutes after our conversation, we reached the area our host school was in and started giving the driver directions. As we started up the hill, Alexis took the role of being the guide. “Gauche,” she’d say while pointing to the left, and “droite,” motioning to the right. Suddenly, we realized we had a small problem — not all the roads were charted on Google Maps, meaning we’d have to figure things out by sight, an act not so simple with zero streetlights.
We followed the map, Alexis telling our driver, whose favorite color is blue by the way, to continue straight. After a few turns, we sat silently, trying to evaluate the map in relation to the school and our current location. The silence was broken by our driver’s voice. “Hash,” he said, pointing to the left. “Hash.”
We looked at each other in confusion and started laughing. “Hash?” I asked him, not sure what he was talking about. “Hash,” he said.
After ten more minutes of driving around aimlessly, we finally reached our destination. Though I was relieved, I found the whole night to be humorous and anything but stressful. After a long adventure to get home, we paid our driver and headed in for the night.
What started as a normal night trying to catch a taxi resulted in one of the most humorous situations we’ve been in. When you’re travelling, don’t be afraid of confusion. Embrace it and find humor in the situation. Trust me, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at