Marrakesh, part 1. March 5-19, 2019. I traveled to Marrakesh for Peace Corps’ In Service Training. There were too many experiences to cover in one entry, so I will first cover the sights and experiences of the train travel there. Second, I will talk about the wonderful time with my “baby brother” and his family. I will meld that together with all the tourist and historical sights seen. Third, I will share a few notes from the training itself. Lastly, the trip home, including a stop at the American Consulate in Casablanca (including my favorite “that is just how it is done here” story yet) and Peace Corps headquarters in Rabat.
“On the train to Marrakesh, they’re taking me to Marrakesh…” (do you hear the song in your head when you read it?). Early morning I catch the small bus from my town to Fes, a Petite taxi takes me to the train station, where I enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee with an interesting stranger. He stopped me to ask if I needed help, we agreed to have a coffee, and somehow left me with the bill. Oh well. All the train stations I saw were nice, with helpful people. Tall, lofty buildings with looming, pretty, glass entries.
I enjoyed the train ride very much. There are only a few, short stops on the 8-hour trip, adding or disgorging passengers. I had a cabin of 6 seats to myself over half the way, picking up a crowd in Casablanca. I chose first class, as that is the only accommodation with assigned seats. I had a window seat, facing the direction of travel, sharing a small table with the seat across from me. There is room for a carry-on suitcase overhead, and people put larger bags in the hall. The large windows were clean going, though marred by rain spots coming home. A man with a cart full of beverages and snacks visits and I buy a few things to add to what I have in my bag.
Along the way, there are grain seed heads just starting to fill in, cemeteries, grain silos, red poppies, sheep, workers, some taking breaks, cherries leafed, peaches blooming, patch quilts of crops over the rolling hills, donkeys, streams winding, fava beans everywhere, towns, tractors, solar plastic, vines, rail yards, school yards, olives, orange groves, pomegranate orchards, bee boxes, artichokes, freshly disked fields, palm trees, prickly pear, rooftops of whatever hodgepodge of scrap held down by old tires, abandoned out buildings, exposed rock turn to loams, pivot irrigation, cords of sticks, planted eucalyptus areas, ocean, bougainvillea, vines, Casablanca. Along the ocean, there was little agriculture, then the land opened into long, flat fields far into the horizon. Around 3, the landscape changed suddenly to a vast arid region, desert, but hilly, Nevada. Big river, Indian pueblo, dead cactus, red-grey-tan and splashes of blue and white. Huge piles, likely phosphate. 4:00 first sight of the big mountains, snow and clouds. Due in Marrakesh at 4:15.