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Hitchhiking in Morocco

Before we got to Morocco, I was a bit nervous. The first hitchhike in a new country is always more stressful as everything is unknown; you need to break the ice. It didn’t take long to get over that fear. With an average waiting time of less than 5 minutes, often ranging between 5 and 30 seconds, Morocco is, by far, the best country I’ve hitchhiked in so far. Not only do people stop, but they will stop anywhere. I mean, anywhere.

Highway? We’ve had multiple trucks pull over on the highway for us, even when we didn’t dare asking them for a ride. Desert? The first car will take you. Random road between villages? You’ll probably be hitchhiking alongside a few locals. Point is, unlike most western countries, you don’t need to walk for hours or plan ahead to find a spot to hitchhike. You just hitchhike. Of course, except for major cities like Casablanca, Tangier or Marrakesh, where you will need to get outside of the city a little. Even then, we got rides on the main streets in the cities.

The only warning I would give you is that everything will take more time than you expect it. Even though we almost never spent any time waiting, our journeys always took a few hours more than GoogleMaps told us. Actually, you just can’t trust GoogleMaps in Morocco. 7 hour drive? That’s 10. Honestly, the people are so friendly and interesting, and the sceneries stunning that you won’t mind the extra time. Well, I didn’t. Actually, for me, the road is often the best part of the trip. We ended up going back and forth on the road between Casablanca and Ouarzazate, and the scenery makes the road itself completely worth it. It’s basically all of Morocco’s micro climates in a nutshell, going from lush green, to red rocks, the atlas (including snow if you’re lucky!), rivers and rocks, until you reach the desert and its oasis on the other side.

I have to recognize that having the privilege of speaking French greatly helped and enhanced our experience, allowing us not only to be clear on where we were going and where to be dropped, but also engage and share wonderful moments and discussions with our drivers. This often left us with a new number in our notebook, a few addresses and a friend to visit!

Moroccans are the most welcoming and warm people I’ve met. They have something so foreign for most westerners it seems magic: a sense of community. They actually treat other people like human beings and have a deep sense of mutual help. Of course, this is a generalization. There are ‘’good’’ and ‘’bad’’ people everywhere, and the country you are born in does not dictate everything you are, but you can definitely feel how values of helping each other and doing good are present in the culture.

In Morocco, getting a ride was rarely just about getting a ride. People were genuinely interested and caring towards us. We actually had people call to check up on us a few hours after giving us a ride, just to see if we made it. More than once, people gave us all the food they had on them and insisted on stopping to eat together (never letting us pay, of course). Often, we were treated like family members, told not to worry about anything, as if we were with our parents. Take a moment to think about it. I’m talking about someone who picked up two strangers on the side of road, and after a few hours, treats them like his own children, literally saying: ‘’Il y a pas de problème, fais comme si c’était ton papa qui te conduisait!’’. And we’ve been told this more than once. Morocco warmed my heart.

Now, the famous question: ‘’What about safety?’’. Morocco is, from my experience (as a privileged, white, cis, able, physically conform, French-speaking Canadian) an extremely safe country. Your biggest concern will be your sugar intake. Of course, people will try to sell you things in big cities. That’s basically it. It is very easy to distinguish who is interested in you from who is interested in your wallet.

Adapting to the local customs, no matter what your gender is (I’ll write a separate article about the whole issue of ‘’dressing as a woman’’), and learning a few words in Darija (Moroccan Arabic dialect) will definitely help engage in a positive way with the locals, showing you are interested in them and their culture, and not just taking a selfie with a camel.

From there, most people who will pick you up hitchhiking are business man, or people with a company car (in other words, richer than you- us anyways). I literally never felt worried or uncomfortable. Moroccans are also very proud of the safety of their country, and you will encounter police barrage at the entrance and exit of every city. We actually had police officers stop a woman who picked us up, just to ensure we were safe with her, which was a great lesson as our initial reaction was annoyance as we thought he would stop us from hitchhiking.

Travelling as a woman in Morocco is also no problem (from my privileged experience). Most people won’t look at you twice (granted you cover your legs, chest and shoulders). Actually, coming back to Italy after being in Morocco was quite a shock. I forgot how bad street harassment is in most western countries. Catcalls, insistent stares, objectifying ‘’compliments’’, men following you and even sexual abuse are way too frequent, so much so that they become normalized, and we learn to adapt and live around them, and that is terrifying. This is much more of an issue to me than needing to wear pants (which you need to do to protect yourself from the sun anyways). I also wrote an independent piece on my experience hitchhiking solo in Morocco. (Spoilet alert: it was amazing!). Not to say that there are not women’s issues in Morocco (which, as I am not a Moroccan woman, I cannot write about), but travelling as a (white, cis, heterosexual) woman is perfectly do-able and enjoyable.

Hitchhiking in Morocco, in my opinion, is easy, fast, safe and an amazing opportunity to meet locals and end up in wonderful places you wouldn’t have seen otherwise! It might also give you some faith in humanity, that’s what it did to me anyways.

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