This anecdote falls squarely under the “Do as I SAY, not as I DO” category. I can rattle off a litany of Safe Travel tidbits (and have many times!) and honestly, I mean them all and generally use them. Like this one, for example, is just common sense: Don’t walk alone late at night in a quiet part of a strange city. Clearly a no brainer, and frankly I still stand by that advice. Except I totally did exactly that tonight…..
I had the best intentions of arriving in this new city of Chefchaouen in the middle of the afternoon, but I dragged my feet leaving my hostel this morning (more on that later) and missed the first bus I wanted to take. The bus I was on arrived a couple hours late – of course – meaning that it was after 9pm and very dark when I finally stepped off and collected my bag. I really don’t know what happened to the other passengers, but they seemed to all vanish away from the bus depot in moments, although I never even saw a single taxi. I was alone in a deserted lot on a quiet street with small groups of locals clustered on corners a few blocks away. Great. I took a second to weigh my options and check in with my “gut feeling” of the place while walking over to a tiny market stall that was still open. Thankfully I was given a wifi connection long enough to get google map directions to my hotel, thinking that I could have an idea for how much a taxi would cost. Seeing it was only a 30 minute walk and a seemingly simple route, I took one last look around for a taxi, then said a little prayer and off I marched into the darkness. I kept my guard up and was über alert the whole way, but I felt safe. Along the walk I had a few guys ask if I was ok and if I needed a ride, but thankfully I was able to point to my map and politely decline. I really think they were genuinely trying to help me, though, except maybe for the one that told me to come back and smoke hash with him! Finally arriving at my hotel was a relief, but a bit embarrassing too: the first time I’m staying in a nice hotel and I show up as a sweaty mess scruffy backpacker….. All’s well that ends well, right? But still, don’t do this!
Wow, this is going to be a long post – I still have more stories to tell!
I mentioned already that I was lingering at my last hostel in the morning so I’ll back track a little now. I started the day in the city of Fez in a fantastically cozy hostel, and was in a comfortable food coma from my breakfast of bread, cheese, and pastries. As I was starting my second cup of coffee my new little buddy Ethan joined me. We had spent most of the previous day in a pleasant break from each travelling alone, after meeting earlier at this hostel. Within moments of introducing himself to me he asked “so, what are you running away from?” (Perceptive little brat! 😉) I clumsily dodged the question and changed the subject, he graciously allowed me to, and a friendship began right then. In case you’re wondering about my use of diminutive terms for him, it’s because he’s 8 years younger than my baby brother, but none the less I had fun playing the role of grizzled old sage for a day. This is what I love about travelling alone – the people I connect with! I’ve spent time in every place I’ve been so far with some really incredible people and I’m so grateful for these new friendships.