Our Taxi Driver Got In An Accident (As Usual): Morocco Edition

Is it sad when you get in a taxi and think you have 50/50 odds of getting into an accident? Because that’s sort of how I perpetually feel.

We just spent about 30 hours in Casablanca, where the city is quite a distance from the airport (about 30 kilometers).

Several days ago I wrote a post about why I almost always order hotel cars nowadays to take me from the airport to my hotel. That’s exactly what we did in Casablanca as well. The hotel’s Mercedes was waiting for us when we arrived, the driver was courteous and a good driver, the car was in good condition, we had air conditioning, and I could even work in peace during the ~45 minute drive from the airport to the city.

The transfer cost ~$65, while a normal city taxi would have cost ~$30. So, was it worth paying a bit more than double as much for a hotel car?

Let’s talk a bit about the ride from the hotel back to the airport this morning. There were no Ubers available in Casablanca, and the hotel car wasn’t available (I forgot to book it in advance), so we took a normal taxi.

The taxis in Casablanca are retro-chic. They’re almost all 1980s Mercedes, which I find charming on the surface. The car was well maintained for what it was.

Casablanca-Taxi

So, how did our ride in a taxi differ from our ride in the hotel car?

Well, to start, we got in the car and the driver said it would take about five minutes for the car to “warm up.” So we stood there and waited for the car to “warm up.”

I looked for my seatbelt, and there wasn’t one. The driver said “don’t worry, I drive slow.”

He was a really nice guy, and had some interesting things to say. When he found out we were from the US he said how much he likes Clinton and Trump, but doesn’t like Obama. Hmmm…

About 15 minutes into our ride the guy stopped at a gas station to get more gas and have air pumped into the tires, which took about five minutes.

I’ve tried to be less of a back seat driver lately, since I’m someone who is scared of being in cars. The way I see it, driving is the most dangerous thing I do on a day to day basis. So generally I’m really tense in cars, and I especially struggle in foreign countries that have different driving standards, since I recognize I just have to close my eyes and hope for the best.

So once he was done filling up the tires he backed the taxi into another car. Matthew and I both clearly saw the car behind us, so I’m not sure how he didn’t (but we didn’t want to be back seat drivers). Then he got out and argued with the guy for a bit, and eventually asked us for the equivalent of $10 so he could pay off the driver he hit.

Casablanca-Taxi-1

Then we were finally on the highway to the airport. Remember how the car didn’t have seatbelts and he promised to drive “slow?” Well apparently 140km per hour while tailgating another car is considered “slow” for him, because that’s the speed at which we drove all the way, while switching between lanes in our rattling 30+ year old car.

Towards the end of the ride he missed the exit to the airport and nearly ran us off the road when he was going to make a sharp turn to try and still make the turn, but fortunately he didn’t follow through with that.

I think I’m cursed, because I swear it’s more often than not that I get in a taxi and either get in some sort of an accident or scam. This is true in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Frankfurt, Las Vegas, London, Warsaw, and many more cities. While I used to never take hotel cars, nowadays I almost feel like they’re the best money you can spend for cities without good public transportation, where taxis are the only other option.

Perhaps the moral of the story is to never get in a taxi with me, because I’m bad luck.

Comments

  1. What a great idea for a blog or book: taxi stories! I have heard of some doozies. What better way to get a feel of a new place than through your interaction with the taxi driver

    Cheap guy asking you to pay for his accident

  2. “So once he was done filling up the tires he backed the taxi into another car. Matthew and I both clearly saw the car behind us, so I’m not sure how he didn’t (but we didn’t want to be back seat drivers). Then he got out and argued with the guy for a bit, and eventually asked us for the equivalent of $10 so he could pay off the driver he hit.”

    Sounds like this was a pre-arranged shake down.

  3. agreed. Most ‘unusual’ stories related to taxis have to do with shaking down the passenger

  4. The civil servants of the ONCF (the railways organisation in Morocco) are very helpfull.

    Taking the train from CASA PORT (the station near central Casablanca, obviously closed to the port as well) and changing at CASA VOYAGEURS for the train to the airport is easy.
    Your hotel needs to be closed to the port or willing to go there of course.
    I rather like to be autonomous with the train. But not everyone likes to travel by train or public transportation.

    Interesting to know what happened. It is also sunday, during the european holidays period. This may have saturated all the bookings for the hotel car.

  5. Lucky, I tend to take your side in most of these mishaps, but CMN is fairly well connected to the city via ONCF then trolley. But YMMV is of course perpetual and universal.

  6. You really do have bad luck! I was just in Morocco, and while I saw many near misses (both from within our vans or taxis or while walking on the street), I never saw any accidents. That’s kind of amazing considering the sheer volume of cars and disorganization on the roads, especially in Marrakech and Casablanca. Also can’t believe your taxi driver missed the exit to the airport. There are like a million signs for the airport and the main purpose of that road is to get people from Casablanca to the airport so it seems like a difficult thing to miss. The taxis we took didn’t drive any differently than the rest of traffic and the vast majority of them had seat belts, even the old Mercedes sedans.

  7. It’s interesting that there is still a naivety when you travel on land. You got scammed out of ten bucks. When you didn’t complain about sitting in the car when it “warmed up” you got pegged. Then when you didn’t flip your shit stopping for gas/air on the way to catch a flight – seriously – he probably would have just done five bucks but figured he’d push to see if he could get ten. He and his buddy are still laughing at you.

  8. Lucky may have just missed getting kidnapped and sold to ISIS, used in some jihadi video. So maybe he still deserves the name “Lucky”

  9. Dude these are the stories that keep life interesting and that you can share with your kids.

    Not some stupid lounge and what great food it had or business class with reverse herringbone. Meaningful experiences make fond memories. So any experience out of the ordinary that you survive is like hitting the jackpot. It also makes you more interesting.

    Keep traveling.

  10. I am rarely in a taxi, but a few years ago we got approached by a non-legal taxi driver in Rome and said okay, but quickly had suspicions about him. As a family of 5, I (mom) sat in the back with my handbag strap between my hands prepared to strangle him if he tried anything funny. My tall and strong husband sat next to him watching his every move. Luckily, he delivered us to the Westin and got paid too much, but good riddance. Usually, I make friends with the driver as I enjoy learning about them.

  11. Tokyo is a city with superb public transport but I’m tempted to use the hotel to get from Haneda to a hotel in an unfamiliar area. What do you think? I’ll also have a large suitcase plus hand luggage.

  12. So did you give him the $10?! Why? You weren’t driving, nor was it your car so why would you be responsible for the cost of an accident? There is no way I would have given him money for that.

  13. @Brad. We used Uber from Haneda to Tokyo and it couldn’t have been easier. Check to see if they still have flat rate pricing. I was worried about the pickup location, but he found us right away. Used it to return to Haneda as well…and again, had a great experience.

  14. Hi Lucky, one important question for you. How much did the taxi ride cost? Was it USD 30 like it should have been, or was it more due to the waiting time, at the hotel, gas station, with added payment for the accident?
    Also, while other readers criticize you for paying the accident fee, I understand why you did. You are sitting ‘hostage’ in his taxi, with you luggage in the trunk, do you risk a long protracted sob-story from the driver why he can’t afford to pay the other car’s driver, or simply pay up and get on the way to the airport. I would have assumed the USD 10 was subtracted from the taxi fare anyways.

  15. Lucky,
    That “backing into another car” then asking for a few bucks is a well known taxi scam…

  16. This was definitely a scam. You’re lucky (no pun intended) that your gringo tax was only $10. My wallet was relieved of nearly $200 by a more sinister scam in India when a crook sent his 15- year old kid to throw himself in front of our car, and of course we hit him. And this was with my personal driver, not even a taxi!

  17. In an organized tour of China in 2013, there was an “accident” where the tour guide, the bus driver, and the “offending other driver”, pleaded their hard-luck story and got US $$ out of our sympathetic (and naive) tour members. All staged and all fairly representative of a subset of some Chinese who are masters of trickery and scam. So, smile wildly, but take over the South China Sea as the rest of us quack incredulously. Oh, if only the rest of the world were Elm Street and County Fair celebrations! Sigh…

  18. wait, did you pay him the $10 during the accident? that would have been cause to get out at the (relatively safe) gas station. I don’t normally question your judgement but you’re stopped, he’s out of the car – wanting money for his bad driving? get out the car.

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