Hitchhiking in Morocco
Hitchhiking has always been an intriguing travel option to me. Mainly for two reasons I think: One because it is an economic and practical way to get around, but also because in so many places it carries with it a stigma or is considered somewhat taboo.
Well, after a long time of actually wanting to do it, I finally got the chance in an unlikely starting place. I traveled from Marrakech to Ouarzazate before making my way to Ait bin Haddou, which is a place that I wanted to visit. To get from Ouarzazate to Ait bin Haddou, I was only able to travel by taxi (or so I thought). So, the first time I shelled out an equivalency of around 11-12 Euros for a ride out there. To me, although I knew that I was getting ripped off, I felt that I was getting a decent deal as I had talked him down from his original 15 Euros, or 150 MAD. The more that I thought about it, 15 Euros was about what I had spent in my entire two days in Marrakech, and I had just paid it for a 30 minute taxi ride. Then, after talking to a local in Ait bin Haddou, he mentioned that they normally pay around 20-30 MAD to get to Ouarzazate. Ouch!
That night I decided that in the morning I would walk to the middle town between Ait bin Haddou and Ouarzazate to ease the pain of the cost to my budget. Additionally, I thought walking through the desert might get the sour taste of being ripped off out of my mouth.
I set off around 9 in the morning ensuring that I had sufficient food and water for trekking through an arid summer climate. After being passed by multiple motor bikes, cars, taxis, and the like I was convinced that I would make the walk in its entirety.
Not long after that, I heard a honk over my left shoulder and a transport truck was flashing his blinker and pulling to the side of the road. Slightly startled, I realized what was going on so I hastily made my way to the truck and opened up. I greeted him in Arabic, he indicated to me to make myself comfortable. We exchanged a few words in my broken Farabic (Yes, I just made that up. French and Arabic together). It turns out that he was going to the same place that I was, or at least passing through that town.
We road together in silence as my French and Arabic are not yet to par. The ride through could not have been better, as I got to see the generous side of the Moroccan people. One that you will not find too much inside of the cities and markets of Morocco. The driver saw me as a person needing a ride, nothing more, and he was happy to help.
What made this trip successful?
At a first glance, you might say, hitchhiking in Morocco… I don’t know about that. I would have thought the same. In fact, Morocco is probably be one of the last places that I would have thought to try hitchhiking. However, it is more common than you think.
Hitchhiking in Morocco is quite common. I saw many people doing it, mostly local, but I also had a friend who spent his entire time hitchhiking when he visited a few years ago. He traveled great distances across the countryside and told me that it was relatively easy for him. That being said, here are a few tips that may help.
1.) Be well-located. You’ll need to be on a main road or near a stop to catch a ride. Sitting in a small town or on a less traveled road will not get you very far. I was walking along the only road between two towns in the middle of nowhere. Someone was bound to pass by.
2.) Look as if you need a ride. I did not actually have a paper with anything written on it. I was picked up solely because I was walking and it was hot. As I opened the door to the truck, the driver said, “C’est chaude” (It is hot!). I agreed and we went on.
3.) Find alternate ways to communicate. I am not able to communicate effectively in either Moroccan Arabic or French. I speak Spanish and English and I know phrases in a multitude of languages. When the truck driver pulled over for me, I opened the door and greeted him in Arabic (A salamu alaikum). Then, I asked, “Comment ça va?” meaning “How are you?” in French. After that, I looked at him and pointing to my chest said Ouarzazate. I was intending to indicate that I needed to travel to the city of Ouarzazate. He did the same. After that, we didn’t talk too much. At the end, I said, “Skuran et Merci beaucoup” meaning “thank you” in Arabic first, then French. Moral of the story, phrases can be useful if you do not speak the local language.
4.) For more hitchhiking in Morocco tips, check out Hitchwiki’s Morocco guide.
In conclusion, the last place that I would ever have anticipated beginning to hitchhike was in Morocco. However, the experience was a positive one, and left a good impression on me for attempting it in the future.
“Maktoub In’shallah” (It is written – God-willing)