Casablanca – A night in

So the next day I went with Angelo to get some lunch in the Medina. I got the local cat to check the chicken on my plate by offering it some. I wasn’t as convinced as the cat that it was O.K.

After we went for a coffee and watched the Rabat Derby on T.V. FUS the home team won 2-1 after they scored a last minute winner , it was a small stadium with the majority of supporters following FAR.

I left on the final whistle and arrived at the train station with 10 minutes to spare. The self service ticket machine wanted the exact amount of money for the train ticket, the fare was 35 dirhams (about £3). I emptied all the coins from pocket……34 dirhams I asked a passer by if they had one dirham, but they didn’t. I tried to purchase the ticket with my bank card, but that was declined. With time running out, I went down the escalator and found another machine, I asked the man standing next to the ticket machine and he gave me the dirham I needed.

As I arrived on the platform I noted that the time of the next train had changed to 15.30 and the destination Casa Port.

I checked with the guard and found that the train would not stop at Casa Voyageurs. Ok, so I was going to arrive 20 minutes late at the wrong station. Although the person sitting next to me didn’t speak any English I managed to get them to send an email to Farouk to let him know that I would get there as soon as I could.

I made my way to the front of the train as we approached Casablanca, and headed outside the station to look for a taxi. A man guided me across the road and we found a taxi, he demanded money, of course I had already used all my coins, so the taxi driver gave him one dirham. We picked up other passengers on the way and arrived at my intended destination at 5 p.m. 40 minutes late. Farouk was still waiting.

We boarded a tram and made our way across town, we alighted at a stop called Gandhi, but it was pronounced nothing like the Indian leader we know.

A fifteen minute walk and we were at the ground, after our soaking the previous evening we had already decided that we would go in the main tribune as it was covered. The cost of this ticket would be 60 dirhams (£5) so I offered to pay for Farouk’s ticket.

Unfortunately, we were told the tribune was sold out….. The rain started to fall.

We went round the corner and found people selling tickets we paid 100 each, later I found out that was the face value, and so must be the best seats!

Unfortunately it didn’t work out like that as we entered the stand I could immediately see it was packed. All the seats were taken and the aisles were filled with people standing.
We gradually made our way up the aisle as far as we could and then Farouk told me to sit down in the aisle so that we had a place.

Whilst we were there people pushed past us into invisible spaces, there were lots of verbal exchanges and skirmishes breaking out all around us.

I thought I had learnt the Berber words for “Sit down”, as I could hear everyone saying it, apparently I had the general meaning but their version was less polite.

The Curva Nord to my left was completely full since we got in and they didn’t stop singing the whole game. The tribune was also packed to capacity plus 10%.

The match was played at break neck speed, with the ball quickly making it’s way between the two ends with no tiki-taka on display.

The rain started come down even heavier as the second half started and 15 minutes into the second half the floodlights failed.

Now the rain was falling even harder than it had done on Saturday.

Play resumed after a fifteen minute break, the pitch now unplayable in parts. Wydad took the lead and their supporters sang even more ferociously. They were pegged back by a last minute equaliser.

As we made our way out the stadium I could see Farouk check his pockets. I recognised the look on his face!

His phone had gone, he was convinced it had been stolen. There was little I could do to console him especially as I was focused on making it back to the train station for my train at 21.45 back to Rabat.

I arrived back at Casa Voyageurs with ten minutes to spare, as I entered I was attacked by an umbrella. I looked round to see my taxi driver from earlier in the day, smiling back at me.

I purchased my ticket from the ticket office and immediately noted the time of departure was 22.10!

22.10 came and went and there was no sign, the arrival time was amended to 22.30. No problem, it only takes an hour to get back to Rabat and the hostel is less than fifteen minutes away by foot, and I could always get a taxi.

I was joined by 4 Wydad supporters, once they realised I had also been to the game they didn’t stop asking questions, when they couldn’t think of anything to ask they sang.

I assumed (correctly) that they had been on the Curva Nord, the uncovered terrace behind the goal, and noted that they seemed dry. When I asked them about that they all produced carrier bags holding their drenched clothes and proceeded to wring them out to show how wet they were.

The train stopped in the middle of nowhere and I waited patiently, but did not look at the time. When we got back to Rabat I made my way as quickly as I could to the taxi rank outside the station. There were three taxis and I knocked on the door of the first one where it appeared the driver was resting. I gave him instructions for where I wished to go and he promptly got out the cab and ran off!

I looked around for a taxi driver, but could not find one, so I walked back to the hostel. Last night someone had been standing by the door at a minute to midnight ready to lock the door. I knew it must be after midnight now, but to my huge relief the door was open. The time 00.04

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