Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Holds These Train Cars Together?

After the cooking class in Fes, we headed to the train station to catch the 5:50 train back to Casablanca.  We were told multiple times that this was the express train and would have us back in Casablanca by about 9:30 versus 10:30 with a regular train.
We bought two first class tickets and settled into our air-conditioned compartment.  We had two Berber rugs in my backpack and we were each lugging a tagine, so it was nice to be able to put it all down and get comfortable.  We smiled at each other from our window seats as the engine revved and the horn tooted.  Our smiles faded, however, as we felt a jerk and heard the lugging sound of a complete power failure.   We momentarily sat in the darkened car, but soon gathered our possessions and joined everyone on the platform. 
What are these people looking at? 

Turns out they were looking at what happens to the electrical connection between a train car and the engine when the electrical connection is the ONLY physical connection between them!  Greg had seen a train station employee working with a rock to get the electrical system coupled and wondered to himself just what it was that held the train cars together.  In this case, it turned out that the answer was “nothing”! 
After about 15 minutes, we were told that we should exchange our first class tickets for third class ones and get on another train car.  Now, I am not exactly sure how they thought they were going to remove the one damaged car from the track and hook the engine to the next car, but I was willing to go along with the game.  Greg hustled over to carry out the transaction and we searched for some empty third class seats.  After wandering around two sweltering hot cars for a few minutes we located some empty seats and stowed our things.  While we were literally dripping in sweat, we were thankful that we wouldn’t be standing for 3+ hours.  After about 10 minutes of waiting in the sauna, I mean the train car, we saw that everyone was leaving the car with their stuff.  Not knowing what was going on, we followed the herd.  Soon we were jumping from the platform onto the next set of tracks, crossing two sets of rains and climbing from the tracks onto cars in the next train to Casablanca.  The first stair in the set of steps up was about waist high!  We were able to get on a second class car and were happy to be in a much cooler place although we were crowded into the three-foot wide passageway with our possessions.  We both began laughing as we recalled the sight of two men rolling the beverage card off of the platform and across the large stones and rails to the next car.  Precisely where they thought they were going to put the beverage cart was beyond us as there were now two train loads of people on one train.  The absurdity of it still makes me laugh. 
After about an hour of standing, we were able to find seats as others got off the train.  We arrived back at the ship after midnight.  We showered and hit the sack at about 1:00 a.m. but were up and off the ship to head out on our day trip before 8:00 a.m.  We had a wonderful day and were glad that we didn’t let the late night affect our plans.
The ship is a petri dish of disease!  Greg spiked a fever of about 102 last night and we both have stomach problems.  Thankfully, I don’t have the fever, but am extremely tired.  I don’t think we are sick from the food, but from illnesses the students who went to Marakesh brought on board.  So, instead of being upstairs having my book signed by Desmond Tutu I am in my room (ie. near a bathroom) writing blog entries.

1 comment:

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