The seemingly normal act of crossing the street is a whole new beast in Morocco. Traffic laws and road rules are vaguely optional, red lights are a suggestion, passing on the right hand side is customary, and the pedestrian right of way an alien concept. Thus, getting to the other side is a skillful task, one in which newcomers to Moroccan soil must learn asap.
NOTE: This is a high risk game of Real Life Frogger.
Some of my earliest technological memories were of this Sega game, and I’m grateful for the early exposure to unconventional methods of crossing the street. If you adhere to my following tips, you will learn to cross the street like a pro and avoid getting squashed by on coming taxis, cars, and other rogue vehicles.
Tip 1: Go forth or turn back from whence you came.
During my first few weeks in Morocco I was terrified to cross the street. Someone would have to guide me, or pull me along so that I didn’t end up standing on the sidewalks edge for 15 minutes hoping for a large enough opening in the traffic to allow my safe crossing to the other side. I was petrified of being hit, thrown up onto the windshield, and carried for some unknown distance (measured in meters) on the hood of some tin-y blue taxi. My fears were semi-assuaged, however, and I started taking cues from fellow pedestrians. Look both ways, then walk directly into oncoming traffic. It’s the only way.
Tip 2: Stop in the middle of the street.
Don’t tire yourself out. Crossing the street can be stressful and induce fatigue. Take breaks. Hang out in between the traffic.
Tip 3: (For a more advanced approach) try walking with the flow of traffic.
If you can’t manage to find a large enough opening to cross in, step into the road and try walking along between the cars in the direction of your destination. Sure you may be in the middle of the road, but you must learn to amplify your walking time. The more breaks you take, the longer your travel time will be.
Tip 4: Watch out for side-view mirrors!
Drivers don’t usually slow down when driving along narrow streets. A side-view mirror in your rib cage hurts like a bitch. Avoid contact at all costs.
Tip 5: Don’t take angry honks personally.
Everyone here drives like a drunk driver. This is an observation soaked with irony, seeing as Morocco is a Muslim country and most Moroccans don’t imbibe the adult sodas. But if truth be told, a typical driver’s reaction time here is slow and only to his/her immediate surroundings. Nothing is anticipated. Cars swerve, horns blow, you get cut off — c’est la vie.
Tip 6: There is power in numbers.
Cross with fellow pedestrians. The more numerous you are the better your chances are stopping the traffic coming at you.
Tip 7: Use the force.
Put your hand out, young Jedi. It signals to the cars that you see them, you do not fear them and that you wish for them to heed your command to let you pass.
May the force be with you.