The plan was to travel to Tangier, Morocco, take photos for my independent study, stay in a hostel and go home the next morning. Cheyanne and I rolled out of bed at 9:20 a.m., getting ready to catch our 10:44 a.m. train. I was exhausted but I needed to be in Tangier to get my project done. After packing my bags and throwing a vanilla wafer in my bag for a snack, we headed out the door to catch a taxi, a feat not always easy.
To catch a taxi, we have to walk to the main road and wait until the yellow or white usually-somewhat-already-packed vehicle passes by and hail it down. However, this particular morning, it didn’t take long to find a taxi. We flagged one down across the street, sprinting to the other side. Just as we reached the taxi, Cheyanne’s chapstick flew out of her pocket and bounced into the storm drain, leaving her distraught, a small foreshadowing of the yet-to-come day.
We made it to the train station rather early, which is always a blessing. Missing your train means you’ll most likely be waiting another hour or two, making you late for wherever you’re going. As the clock ticked and people slowly ambled into the station, I scrolled through my Instagram and talked to Cheyanne. We waited and waited, wondering why the platform door wasn’t open yet. We stood next to the door and people followed suit. We didn’t seem to be the only ones eagerly awaiting to board the platform. Finally, at 10:42 a.m., the door opened, the train came, and we boarded.
Our first destination was two stops away. The second destination would also be only two stops away, once we boarded the new high-speed train. The train had been inaugurated only a few weeks prior, and today happened to be the opening day. The drive from Rabat to Tangier takes about four hours whereas the high-speed train, Al Boraq, turns that time into a about an hour twenty, according to the Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF) website.
When we got to our stop, we tried to find the ticket line for Al Boraq. Cheyanne went around asking where to purchase the tickets while I took my chance and stood in the kiosk line. “It’s over here,” she said as she grabbed my arm and pulled me towards a separate room. We entered the room, joining the back of the line. We soon noticed most people carried a folder with them. What were these folders for? Were we supposed to bring documents with us?
Yes, we were. We had to reserve a ticket in advance as well (riders would receive free rides for the first three days of Al Boraq’s operation). After a few minutes of confusion and conversation with multiple people, we figured this out, unfortunately a bit too late. The earliest we could take the train to Tangier would be the following day. With the rest of the day ahead of us, Cheyanne and I decided to make the best of the situation and headed to McDonald’s.
A few hours elapsed as we meandered in and out of clothing shops. By the time we returned to the train station to go home, we realized we missed the most recent train back. The next train wouldn’t come for another two hours. Neither of us wanted to leave the station, so after finding a not-so-busy area, we sat down and relaxed. That’s when we met Shrek.
Shrek was a small, orange-striped cat with bright green eyes. He approached us from across the station, trotting his way over to be pet. The streets of many Moroccan cities are populated with cats. It’s not uncommon to see one lurking in front of a building, craving food or attention. As he got more comfortable with us, he eventually hopped up onto Cheyanne’s lap. We sat there, enjoying the moment. Although plans had changed, shopping, exploring and simply relaxing was fun. Being flexible is incredibly important when it comes to travelling. The more flexible you are with plans, the more you’ll enjoy yourself.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at