The day where I ended up missing my train to Tangier did not end with a simple ride home. On the contrary, it got even more chaotic.
After Shrek, the friendly cat at the train station, had left us for a passing-by stranger (he was unloyal), we purchased our ticket for the train home and waited for its arrival. My friend Cheyanne and I stood on the platform waiting for our train. When it finally arrived, it looked a little different than the multiple trains I had ridden in the past. Instead of double-decker cars with spacious seats, these cars lacked seats all together, instead having small rooms and thin hallways where people stood. Nonetheless, the train’s arrival time matched that of our tickets, so we boarded.
The train was over-crowded, people packed into the thin hallways like sardines in a can. We asked the train worker who was shoving his way through the passengers if we were on the correct train. “La,” he responded, shaking his head. Cheyanne and I looked at each other. “No?” I asked her. We were on the right platform at the right time, how could this not be the right train? Still, we stayed on.
We stood in the hallway against the glass, a mother, her child and two men on our right and a group of men in their early 20s to our left. As the train sped along, I questioned why we were going so fast. The stops are rather short, the entire trip running about 20 minutes, and we had been moving non-stop for at least ten if not 15 minutes. That’s when I noticed something that would turn my mood completely upside down — the blur of our home train station.
“That’s Skhirat,” I said with the flattest and most disappointing tone as we sped by home. Cheyanne and I turned to each other, our mouths dropped open, looks of defeat crossed our faces. As if the day wasn’t long enough — missing one train, having to wait two hours for another — it kept getting longer. Where were we going? Why didn’t it stop at our station? How much longer were we going to be on the train? All these questions crossed our minds and we had zero answers. We assumed the train was going to the main train station in Casablanca and the one we were most familiar with. The plan was to get off, get dinner and head on the next train home.
That didn’t happen. We later discovered the train was going to a different station in Casablanca, one we hadn’t been to before. Nonetheless, we decided to get off. We navigated through the bustling station — why was it so busy this late at night? — trying to find an exit. It was almost seven o’clock at night and we were both hungry since the last time we ate was before noon. A Big Mac sounded amazing to both of us, so we found ourselves at McDonald’s again.
With a Big Mac, M&M McFlurry, water and large fry in front of me, I sat, trying to decompress from the day. The atmosphere of McDonald’s — the sight of smiling shoppers, the smell of fresh french fries, the sound of cheerful children playing in the distance — was almost comforting. We sat in a booth for about an hour, laughing and talking while trying to figure out what we were going to do for the night. Did the train run this late? Our past experiences had told us no, so we looked for other options, a Careem or Grand Taxi. Alas, it was going to cost more than $50 to get home, and a hotel room was only $30, meaning staying in Casablanca was more ideal, especially for two college students on a tight budget. We booked a hotel room, finished our food and made our way to the hotel. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a simple task either.
We called a Careem, a transportation service similar to Uber, to take us to our hotel. Backpacks on, cell phones in hand, Cheyanne and I waited for our driver. After 10 minutes of pure confusion, the ride got cancelled, leaving bus to catch a taxi. “L’hotel?” I asked some drivers in French, but they only responded with a shake of the head. Could this day get any longer?
With help, we finally caught a taxi. He had my phone, trying to follow the GPS as best he could but we still got lost. He parked on the side of a road, turned the red taxi off and got out. Now more confused than before, Cheyanne and I exited the vehicle.
For the next fifteen minutes, we followed our driver around, on foot, trying to locate the hotel. He would periodically point, asking us if “this” or “that” was our hotel. None were. The city was dark, somewhat quiet but still overwhelming. Every corner was a new and unfamiliar site, whether it was a candy shop lined with colorful treats or a closed cafe. The day was unfruitful for my project, and I had unexpectedly spent more than I hoped to. I just wanted a hot shower and sleep.
I looked at the GPS, trying to calculate which direction the hotel was in. “Monsieur,” I said to our driver — now guide? — and pointed in the direction of the hotel. We walked one more minute and found ourselves at the entrance of the hotel. We had made it. Finally.
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in situations you didn’t expect to be in. Things aren’t always going to go the way you plan them and that’s okay. Be flexible when you’re travelling. Embrace the mistakes. They’ll turn into a good story.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at