Updated: Feb 24, 2022
When I retired from teaching in 2019, my celebration trip was to Morocco and Portugal with three of my best girlfriends. We decided it would be economical, safe, and fun to rent a car in Morocco. Our friends who had done this with their kids in tow said they had no problems, but we also understood that being four women driving around in this country might present some interesting challenges. Online travel blogs did warn about the ever changing speed limits and police checkpoints, especially for cars with rental tags. We went for it agreeing that we’d all contribute to a speeding ticket fund if needed.
Ticket #1: It was our first day of driving from Marrakech to Agadir, a lovely seaside town. I split the driving responsibility with Satya, while Cara played navigator and Chelle kept track of time and possible food/bathroom breaks. Boy, people were not joking about the constant speed changes. At times it felt like every kilometer, every corner in the road, 80-60-80-60-40-60-80, until around one corner we got pulled over. At least Sayta, an excellent driver, was slowing down from an 80 to 60 zone, so these policemen were very friendly and only charged us the equivalent of $10. They asked all sorts of questions about where we were from, where we were going in Morocco and gave us driving tips to avoid more tickets. I think we gave them a Colorado postcard as a thank you and were on our way.
Ticket #2: We were on our way to Mhamid, near the Algerian border for our desert camel and camping experience. Some of the road speed and stop signs were on stone markers on the ground, not on a post in the air. We were going through some pretty small towns and didn’t see one of these markers until we were passing it. We stopped about 30 feet after it and waited because at some stop signs you had to wait for the police to motion you through. We didn’t see anyone at first so we were about to drive on when two cops, having their afternoon tea at the outdoor cafe on the other side of the road, stood up and walked towards us. They looked like the ones from the tv show “Chips” with their rayban sunglasses. The older one was very serious, asked for passports, made Satya get out of the car and walk over to the cafe with them; Chelle went along with her. Showing respect for law enforcement and attempting a bit of bribery, did not work this time. Now at this point, I will say, this one was probably my fault as I had decided as we were driving that I was very hot in the back seat and had taken off my shoes, pulled up my knee length skirt some and put my naked leg up on the back of the seat in front of me for some breeze, just at the time we went through the stop sign and the police looked our way. Well, in an Arab country that behavior from a woman doesn’t go over well! This one was a bit more expensive, about $50, thank goodness we have local currency. When we told our desert guide about the experience, he was very upset, saying they had just had a meeting with the police in that town about not stopping so many tourists at that stop sign because it was hurting their business.
By the way, if you ever want to go on a desert camping, camel experience in a less touristy place then just outside Marrakech, check this camp on Airbnb https://abnb.me/ZBcTHPvMinb
Ticket #3: I was driving for this one, Mhamid to Fez. Just tooling along, lovely day. Right as we go around the corner, Cara decides to take off her seat belt in the back seat for a second to grab something in her bag on the floor. Who was lurking just around the corner? You guessed it, another police stop! At least these two policemen were nice and chatty, so they also got a Colorado postcard as I unsuccessfully tried talking my way out of a ticket.
What an experience driving around in Morocco! Those tickets created some funny memories. Please don’t be deterred in traveling to Morocco, the country really is a must see. We all agreed it was one of our favorites and we’d return given the opportunity. It has diverse landscapes from welcoming seaside towns, to expansive deserts, to historical towns that have hosted many Hollywood films, to labyrinths in the souks of Fez and Marrakech. The tasty tagines, garden- laced riads, yummy mint tea, and desert experiences are not to be missed. Just be careful when dealing with car rental companies (take video footage of the car), wear your seatbelt at all times, and run the air conditioning on high so you don’t pull up your skirt to get a breeze while going through a police checkpoint!