I’ve travelled to a lot of incredible places before. And I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done so far. But I want to share a story from my time in Morocco to show that alternative travel isn’t always the romantic, glamorous endeavour we imagine it to be. Sometimes it can be messy and things can go wrong, but that’s not a reason to be cautious or give up. Like the story of my trip from the Moroccan port city of Essaouira.
Essaouira is a port city in the south of Morocco. After spending a couple of days on the beach and wandering the fort I decided to spend some time in Chefchaouen. I organised an overnight bus and joined some other backpackers I had met to settle in for the 12-hour trip.
At about 1 AM a group of shady looking characters got on the bus in Casablanca. I was cautious, keeping a hold of my bag, but not too worried. After all, most people just got on the bus and went to sleep so what could happen?
The bus arrived in Taounate for a transfer and I decided to buy some supplies. Looking through my bag for my wallet….. Nothing. Gone. All of my cards, the 1200 dirham ($150 AUD) I’d taken from an ATM the day before, everything was gone. So with no money, no phone (I hadn’t bothered to get a local SIM like I usually would) and nowhere to stay I arrived in Chefchaouen.
For some people, this would bring on stress and a sense of disenchantment with the country they’re travelling and the act of travel itself. But the best thing you can do is keep a positive attitude. One of the German’s I was travelling with commented that I ‘don’t look stressed or annoyed at all. I’d be so upset right now.’ And that would be ok and natural. But, the way I see it, stressing and getting upset wouldn’t change anything. I just needed to work out what I needed to do and do it.
Luckily, I found a hostel and the owner sympathised with me. Not only did she allow me to stay until I got my money sorted out but she also allowed me to borrow 200 dirham to get something to eat and let me enjoy this wonderful city.
The point of this story isn’t to warn you about the dangers of bus travel or tell you not to go somewhere (you should be cautious and use common sense anytime you travel, even at home!). It is only to say that sometimes alternative travel doesn’t go to plan. It can be messy, exhausting and things will go wrong, but you can’t let this stuff get to you. Things have a way of working themselves out. If you choose to travel on a budget using local transport and making it up as you go along then these things will happen from time to time.
But this type of alternative travel also gave me the opportunity to meet the wonderful people at Riad Baraka who helped me out. I got to meet the German friends who stayed with me until I sorted things out. And it gave me the confidence that I can overcome any obstacle if I need to. Without this happening, I wouldn’t have found my favourite city in Morocco.
So keep a positive attitude. This could happen literally anywhere. The moral of this story is to show that travel isn’t always sweeping landscapes and stunning sunsets. There will be times that get you down but it’s important to pass them by and keep going. It’s all worth it in the end.