by Rebecca Holland
After a recent trip to Chefchaouen, the Spanish couple running our guesthouse suggested we take a shared taxi to Tangier. We thought it was a great idea, as it would be faster than the bus and a new experience.
“Just make sure to ride in the front,” they warned. “It’s worth the extra price.” This both made sense and didn’t. Yes, we would like to sit in the front and not be squished next to a stranger in the back, but we couldn’t both fit, could we? We concluded they must be taxi vans.
Arriving at the taxi stand, it was clear we concluded wrong. We were shuffled into the front seat of a very old, very hot, average size, not so stable looking car. I slid into the middle (by middle I mean the edge of the passenger seat), and my friend Livia wedged in beside me. Once they rounded up four other passengers–three men and a woman_and miraculously fit them in the back, we were off. What followed was both harrowing and hilarious. Our driver bolted out of the city, hurtling down hills and careening through the mountain curves. Up and down we went, over what would in any other situation be beautiful mountain peaks. The scenery was nice, but it was hard to enjoy without being aware of how dangerously close we were to the edge of the road, or wondering if Livia would fly out of the passenger door at any moment, or trying to balance so I didn’t sit on the gear shift and inadvertently whip us into reverse. In what I took as a positive sign, we were the only two who thought anything of the situation. The four in the back chatted for the first few miles, then fell asleep.
Our driver hummed along to the radio and made a game of tailgating and passing massive semi-trucks loaded with any number of dangerous looking materials that could easily fall back and through our windshield.
To no one’s surprise, but to our great relief, we made it to Tetouan, where we had to switch taxis. This time someone beat us to the front, and we were squished in back with several others. My ribs were crushed and Livia’s face was plastered against the window for the duration of the ride, and it was so hot we gasped for breath. At least this road was a flat highway.
Though it sounds terrible, in the end the group taxi experience was actually sort of fun. Or at least fun to talk about after, and definitely cheap.
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