Bus People

This week, I took a city bus from Meknes for about an hour to visit Moulay Idriss, and back. These were some of the things I saw:

  • As a blind man boarded, and another man got up to help him get to a seat. Later, two people helped him exit at the correct stop, and helped him down the steps.
  • The bus was full, and every young person got up to offer a seat to elderly people and women with small kids.
  • There were three of us who were obviously foreigners and the passengers sitting near us made an effort to find words in a common language with us. One man said to me, “You are welcome here.”
  • Waiting for the return bus, we were encouraged to stay in the shade on the opposite side of the road until the bus came. The man who ran the corner bodega there was seemingly mute, but the kids buying candy from him communicated with him like it was no big deal, and we understood him when he gestured that the bus would be coming soon.
  • A vegetable seller dropped off a huge sack of fresh peas and the bodega guy offered us a taste, then showed us how to turn the empty pod into a noise maker. He waved us a heartfelt goodbye when we got on the return bus.
  • When the bus was really full, people sat on the steps in the aisle, and everyone helped everyone else stow their packages out of the way to make as much space as possible.
  • Sitting on the aisle step next to me was a man of about 30 years. He saw that there wasn’t space for a woman with a baby and a toddler to sit. He beckoned for the woman to hand him the baby and it slept on his lap for the next half hour.
  • Getting off the bus, people wished us well, waved at us. One woman kissed our cheeks and told us, "Peace be with you" in Arabic.

All of this humanity on a city bus.

On the same day, I also saw Volubilis and Moulay Idriss -- two ancient sites that have massive cultural and religious significance. But the 70-cent bus ride left a lasting impression.