August 11, 2015

Rabat, Morocco

I woke up at 08:40, got out of my sweaty bed, showered, dressed, packed my bags, and checked out of the hostel. I then took a taxi for 20 dirhams to the Fes Railway Station. Once at the station, I tried to buy a ticket on the next train to Rabat (scheduled to leave at 10:40) on one of the automated ticket machines (the line at the ticket counter was very long), but the machine would only take exact change. After trying one café in the station that denied my request to change bills, I tried another and was successful. I then returned to the machine, but it was too late to buy a ticket on the 10:40 scheduled train (it being 10:38), even though that train was now delayed until 10:55. So, I ended up with a ticket on the 11:40 train (luckily they depart almost every hour) and an hour to kill. I bought a small Aquarius sports drink to help rehydrate my body after having had expelled so much fluid through sweating and frequent trips to the toilet (thanks to the traveler’s diarrhea I procured in Fes’ medina), and I sat down on the floor of the station (there were not many seats for waiting passengers and they were all taken) and read until 11:30. I then made my way to the railway platform and boarded the train bound for Rabat. I found a seat and then waited for the train to depart. We left the station at 11:45 and I read for most of the journey (I did nap for a brief while).

The train reached Rabat at 14:45 (or around then anyway), I exited the train, and then walked to a hotel nearby that I had researched the previous day (I wanted a hotel with air-conditioning (a must in my current, sorry state), near the railway station, not in the medina, and near a fast food restaurant with a trusted reputation (which happened to be McDonalds – I would’ve preferred another franchise, but oh well) – this hotel fit the bill even though it had a European price). I reached the hotel, sweating profusely, and checked in for four nights. I then made my way up to the room, put my bags down, shaved, showered, and basked in the cool air. I then left the hotel to get some food. I first stopped at a nearby market and bought some cookies, juice, and soda. Next, I walked to McDonalds and bought a Big n’ Tasty burger, chicken McNuggets, French fries, and a coke. Then, I returned to my room and ate my meal. I spent the rest of the day relaxing inside my room, hoping that the gastrointestinal infection I had would run its course and exit my system. Later on, while lying in my bed, I watched Ken Russell’s ‘Savage Messiah’ (courtesy of YouTube), which I liked despite Russell’s over-the-top directing style which I found pretty annoying at times (less is more, less is more, less is more . . . Oliver Stone needs to learn this too). I eventually went to sleep around 03:00 or so.

My first impressions of Rabat: I like it. The part of town I’m staying in (near the Parliament and railway station) looks like it was built in the mid-1900s and is fairly clean. Sure, the medina in Fes was old and had its charm, but it was very filthy and had a nauseating smell that reminded me of Dhaka (not a pleasant smell-memory to be reminded of). Actually, for the record, I like Tangier better than Fes as well.

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An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.