Today we are starting part one of four on transportation options here in Morocco. There are three basic ways for me to get from A to B should both of these points be far apart; the bus, the taxi, and the transit. Today, the transit.
This is the most simple and humble way to get from point to point. Most transits (really, all that I know of), run a more or less short route mostly daily from a small town to a larger town then back again. They leave and return at more or less set times, but that is open to some flexability. 1pm is a lot like 3:30pm. You pay a set fee, and maybe something additional if you had some really big cargo.
What is a transit? Its a panel van. In my town the seats are bench style and arranged around the walls of the van so that the entire middle can be taken up with cargo. These seats are all removeable, if need be. Other transits have the seats arranged more or less in the traditional style. They are painted usually with a flat latex paint, and often identified by color. "Im taking the red one at 3pm".
A lot of volenteers count the transit driver as one of their chief assets in town and work to keep a good relationship with him (its always a him).
Transits are really the most adventerous way to travel. Firstly, the number of tourists on one is almost zero. So as a forigner you always stand out. For most of us, the transit is full of local people who know us, but should someone new get on, it can be a suprise for them. Second, by and large they are the least well maintained of transportation options, and are more likely to break down or be reduced to slooooow speeds. This is understandable, because it is not uncommon for them to use "roads" that are little more than tire tracks in the rocks and sand. I know of one that regularly uses a river bed (when the river isnt there).
The most interesting part is when you come back from you day at market. What was originally a rather empty van is now more full than you can ever imagine. I have never seen one turn down extra people or packages, so they can be almost bursting. Almost everyone has been shopping, so now there are all their new purchesses. But these are more than just veggies, and maybe a new pair of shoes. Large sacks of animal fodder are common on mine. As are new animals to go with the fodder. Today I was trying to do a little snoozing while on my way to town, when suddenly a great commotion ensued while we were picking up a new passanger. He was bringing a goat and two little kid goats on board. I like to play with them, so really, Im not complaining. Last week, we had an entire donkey on with us. Also, as my town is in a bit of a building boom, the transite is responsible for bringing back the bricks and mortar and also rebar. If it can be moved, it will appear in or on top of a transit at some time.
Overall, its a fun experience, and one that for many of us is essential. The transit is likely the only relialbe way to get from your site to a larger town for basic household goods.
Next...the souk bus!