“Should We Park Here?”

27 02 2010

Sun shines into the underground cistern in El Jadida. Click on the picture for more shots from our trip.

Since moving here from Bucharest we have been comparing driving practices.  For example, in both cities, lanes are irrelevant and people are very aggressive.   They also have the same way of making left turns (see picture).  But one big difference between driving in Morocco and driving in Romania is parking – or, more specifically, tow trucks.

In Bucharest you can pretty much park anywhere.  There are a few rules but in general if your car can make it up onto the sidewalk, you can park there.  There are virtually no tow trucks in Bucharest so the worst that would happen is someone would put a boot on your car – easily rectified with a few lei (Romanian money).

So after an excursion to the Habous last week, we decided to stop downtown and find a good spot for lunch.  Chrissy remembered a little hole in the wall joint that had good shwarma and pizza down in the Marif section of town.  We drove around for a couple of minutes before a space was available.

“This looks like a good spot.”

She said, “Are you sure we should park here?  The curb is yellow.”

“Look at all the other cars parked here.  I’m sure it’s fine,” I responded confidently.

So we got the kids out and headed towards the lunch spot.  A policeman right next to us on the corner gave no indication that this was not a perfect place to park.  My confidence was reinforced.

As we headed back from lunch, Chrissy looked up and saw the car in front of us with its rear end in the air, ready to be towed away.  I ran towards the parking spot to find a void where our car used to be.  I asked the guys in the tow truck  where my car was.  They looked at me quizzically and shrugged.  French? Arabic?  they asked.  I shook my head and they yelled something in Arabic at me as they drove away with the Mercedes in tow.

Three trips back and forth across the city with a Moroccan friend later, having run the gauntlet of paying the fine ($12) and finding the car (impound fee: $15), we finally drove the car back home with an expanded, intimate knowledge of the parking and towing systems in Casablanca.