Thursday, September 16, 2010

Being Taken For A Ride

One difficult part of travel is negotiating prices for taxis.  There are two kinds of taxis in Morocco.  Petite taxis in each city are always a particular color – for example, they are red in Casablanca – and can transport passengers within the city only.  Grand taxis are larger, white, can travel from one city to another and cost more.  The port where the ship was berthed is a busy working port and the ship was a 25-30 minutes brisk walk from the port entry.  Ramadan and the following holiday meant that the traffic in port was minimal though.  We asked a tourist agent how many dirham we should pay for a petite taxi ride from the ship (if we could get security to let them in the port) to the train station.  She said 12-15 dirham maximum – about $1.  I don’t mind over-paying and being generous, but I don’t want to be taken for a fool.  We paid 20 for the ride.  Initially, the driver wanted 40 dirham and protested when we said no, but he was smiling when we gave him 20…he was just seeing how far he could go.  
When we went to Fes, the dar sent a driver to meet us and I’d been told to give him 50 dirham.  It seemed to be way too much for a petite taxi, but I did it anyway.  The dar’s owner, Mohammed, has a security camera that allows him to see approaching cars (which should not even be driving in the medina, but that is a different story) and he asked if we came in a petite taxi and how much we’d paid.  When he found out that it was a petite taxi he was furious.  He called the taxi company several times because he’d asked for a grand taxi – not that I care – and because we should’ve paid only 15 dirham for the ride (and that is generous).  He actually got 35 dirham back for us!  It was then that I knew Mohammed could make things happen.  He was an excellent host and made things easy for us. 

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