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Oualidia: Heart Sink

Posted by Squiffy on April 11th, 2008

You know how your heart sinks and panic sets in when you suddenly realise you’ve locked yourself out, or left your mobile phone on a pub table or similar? Thanks to an incompetent baggage handler, that’s how I was left feeling when our bus driver opened the luggage compartment and our backpacks were not there. Whilst we had gone south to the coast, our bags had decided they liked Casablanca too much to leave.

After taking a big sigh I approached the ticket office at our new destination, Oualidia, and explained that are bags were missing. “oh, this has never happened before” commented the member of staff, adding “they won’t be lost”. Really, I thought. He made a call to the Casablanca office and established that they were still there. My suggestion that they put them in a taxi and deliver them to us asap was met with bemused smiles and a firm no. Instead, they informed us that they would put the bags onto a bus leaving that night and headed for a town 70km. There they would take them off, store them overnight, and put them on a bus to our town at 6am the next morning.

Now, I may have been over-reacting, but if they couldn’t even get them on the bus at Casa, how were they going to manage this complicated transfer in the middle of the night?? I persuaded Dave that if we ever wanted to see our bags again, we would have to go to this town 70km away (called Safi) and meet the bus from Casa with our bags on it. Our hotel kindly helped us secure a taxi who was prepared to drive there in the evening (for 20 quid of course) and supplied a translator to come with us. We timed our journey to be at the bus station at 9pm when the bus was scheduled to arrive, having left at 5pm.

Of course, by 9:30pm no bus had arrived, but this was par for the course. By 10pm we were getting a little bored, but the office manager said the bus was on its way. Ten-thirty came, then eleven, still no sign of the bus. I was tired, restless and envisaging having to spend the remaining nine days in Morocco with the little that was in my daypack – not a happy bunny. At 11:30pm I got very excited as the CTM bus approached, the sign indicated that it had come from Casa. We rushed eagerly to the luggage compartment, desperately hoping that our bags were on board – en’shallah.

Remember that heart sink feeling – well this time I had it tenfold. Our bags were not there. I retreated from the bus and stood with my head in my hands, considering the next step. The office manager must have seen me because he came over and informed us, through the translator, that this was not the 5pm bus from Casa, it was the 7:30pm departure, and the 5pm bus with our bags on had broken down along the way. You couldn’t make this stuff up. He told us not to worry and that it was now fixed and should arrive in 15 minutes. Unbelievably, it did arrive soon after and sure enough, there were our runaway bags. We thanked our driver and translator for waiting so patiently for 3 hours, gave them each a big tip and finally got home after midnight. Another day, another escapade.

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