After our awesome Mediterranean cruise aboard the Vision of the Seas we opted for a short hop over to Morocco, as its proximity meant relatively cheap plane tickets for the quick flight, and additional savings flying out of Morocco as Lisbon at the time was asking almost double for the same flight home. It also meant the opportunity to visit with an old friend living up in the Atlas Mountains in the sleepy resort/university town of Ifrane.
During our 2009 visit Nicole talked about how the trip was only “mildly terrifying” at the time as the ‘grand-taxi’ whisked us up the mountainside, but having now made the trip at night, we’d advise you always try and make the drive up during the day. In the dark there isn’t any scenery to distract yourself with, and the continued lack of seatbelts two years later guarantee it’s going to be a terrifying ordeal despite anything even happening.
Having arrived in the early afternoon, the train ride from the Casablanca airport out to Fez, one of the nearest major cities to Ifrane, meant we still had to look forward to an hour and a half long drive once we got there. Finally pulling in around 10PM we began to get worried as we dragged our luggage out into the rainy night and discovered the taxi stand devoid of life. With some luck we were able to get one of the local ‘petit-taxi’ drivers to call someone willing to make the trip up, but ended up having to pay almost double due to the late hour. While the driver was nice enough, his English was non-existent, and I’m pretty sure part of the floor was missing on my side in the back of the car. But as his de-fogger didn’t seem to be working, which meant driving the entire way with his window partly rolled down, and the cold November mountain air whipping through the car, I was otherwise distracted shivering in the back trying not to freeze.
Ironically it was the guy driving the SUV that ended up in the ditch. While we were cautiously making our way along the winding mountain roads, a driver in a Mercedes SUV came tearing up the road behind us, passing in the on-coming lane, before zipping along. And no sooner had our own driver signaled that the other was crazy, we saw the Mercedes tail lights spin out as the driver lost control before sliding into the ditch. Thankfully we were far enough apart that we were able to slow down, and pull off along the opposite side. And luckily everyone seemed fine as our driver came back shaking his head, but we were all a little shell-shocked realizing how close that could have been. So much so, that when we did finally get to Ifrane, and he got us into one of the local ‘petit-taxis,’ I felt obliged to tip him, and thank him profusely for getting us there safely.