Morocco: Spider Bite

House spiders are common in Morocco.

I had a bad experience of spider bite in Morocco. The spider bite was not life threatening but definitely painful.

Spiders are common in Morocco, and they tend to go inside the house when the weather outside is too hot.

Spiders in Morocco

I am not sure of exactly what kind of spider bit me. The spider was small and brown that I often see in the garden and some enter the apartment.  When I realized it was a spider bite I started to do research on spiders in Morocco and these are what I found. The following are the spiders that I have seen at gardens, apartment, offices, riads, shops, and around.  I am not an expert of spiders and only sharing what I see and know.

Common spiders in cities in Morocco.

1.Brown recluse spider

Image result for Brown recluse spider

 

Brown with longer legs compared to wolf spider.

Image from Wikemedia

 

 

2. Wolf Spider

Hogna lenta 18.jpg

 

Brown, small like a button with short legs and distinct dark marking at the back.

Image from Wikepedia

 

3. Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider

 

Brown – grayish, small. And it jumps!

Image from www.entomology.ca.uky.edu

 

Brown recluse spider and wolf spider are my top suspects for my spider bite.

Brown recluse spider, wolf spiders and jumping spider are the spiders commonly seen outside and inside homes and buildings in Morocco.

4. Black House Spider

Big Black Spider - Amaurobius ferox - female

 

Black, small and with long feet at front. I have seen this type of spider mostly at the garden or outside.

Image from https://bugguide.net/

 

5. Common House Spider

Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Brown with long legs. Distinct large bulge body compared to the head. This spider goes inside the house and buildings.

Image from Fyn Kynd / Flickr / CC By 2.0

 

6. Black Widow

Black with some long legs in front and back. Distinct red mark at back.

I have never seen a black widow spider inside homes or buildings. Rare few times spotted it by the garden. Maybe in the kitchen once.

Image from www.lvpest.com/

The “Suspect Spider”

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This is an actual photo of a similar spider that I think bit me.  The photo is not clear. It is small, dark brown to black with a white stripe at the back.

Small and terrible.

 

 

Morocco Spider Bite Experience & Healing

At first I thought it was a hive, a small red bump on the skin that I ignored. When it did not went away within the day then I thought it was a regular bug bite. I was thinking it will still easily heal but it did not. The spider bite got bigger and more painful each day. I started to feel body pain and sensitivity around the bite. Lesion started to appear with a deep red center.  The spider bite looked like a hole –  think of a volcano crater and you can see red flesh inside. Not knowing it was a spider bite I was only applying skin antiseptic. The spider bite wound got bigger each day. More painful. I was experiencing flu like symptoms with body pain and weakness.

I was only able to take photos  of the spider bite when it started to be disturbing painful.

Stage 1 – Red bulge like hive. No pain. No itch. First day

Stage 2 – Red bulge start to be painful but no discomfort. Second day.

Stage 3 – Red bulge start to be hard and erupt. Between second and third day.

Stage 4 – Crater like wound. After the third day the pain start to be disturbing.

20180515_085251_edited

Necrosis or crater like wound developed. I was applying skin antiseptic at this point.  The spider bite looked like this for the next 1-2 weeks. The red flesh was hard and deep. The infection was getting bigger and deeper. At this point I was having flu like symptoms of body pain, weakness and feeling cold. I did not have high temperature which was good.

 

Stage 5 – Puss start to go out.

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After 2-3 days of applying antibiotic from pharmacy. Puss started to go out the spider bite.

It was still painful.

 

Stage 6 – Crater like hole starts to be more small and shallow.

20180517_103356_edited

 

Within 1 week of applying antibiotic. Spider bite wound still looks like a crater. The puss lessened.  The spider bite wound started to be smaller.

 

 

Stage 7 – It does not look like a crater anymore.

20180518_114917_edited

 

The spider bite now looks like large infected pimple. Definitely more shallow and the red hard flesh inside is not visible anymore.

 

 

Healing Period. Total healing period until the wound closed was 1 – 2 months. The scar looks like a brown spot.

Luckily my spider bite did not get much bigger. I was able to apply proper medicine on time. If you search spider bite photos online, there are some that looks like rotten flesh.  You can easily imagine that a flesh eating monster caused it and not a small spider.

 

Morocco Spider Bite Medicine

I showed to the pharmacist the photo of stage 4 spider bite. The pharmacist asked if I have fever, which I did not, and gave me an antibiotic cream.

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Fucidine 2% ointment worked within a week results showed. After 2 weeks I was not feeling any pain.

 

 

Morocco Spider Bite Precautions

  • Shake off clothes and shoes before wearing. Specially if it has been stored for a long period.
  • Fluff and shake off bedding and pillow before going to bed
  • Commercial pesticides and organic DIY pesticides do not help. I tried most of it.

If you know an effective anti-spider that does not require overhauling the house please tell me!

 

Morocco Emergency Contacts

  • Poison Control Center : 05337-777-185
  • Ambulance Inter secours assistance : 0522-27-27-27
  • Ambulance SAMU / SOS Medicins Maroc : 0522-25-25-25

 

 

Morocco: Public Transportation

Tips on Morocco public transportation.

If it is your first time to arrive in Morocco as a backpacker, tourist, or expat. You are most likely to take a public transportation. Unless you have an organized tour or someone to pick you up at the airport.

This is a helpful list of tips and advice on public transportation in Morocco.

Answers to common questions for first time travelers such as:

  • How to take taxi in Morocco
  • Is there tramway in Morocco
  • How to take the train in Morocco
  • Is it safe for solo female traveller in Morocco

Top tips on taking public transportation in Morocco

  • Plan your travel in advance
  • Haggle. Take note that Morocco is a country of constant haggling, even with public taxi service you need to negotiate the price. Buses and trains have fixed fare price.
  • Female travelling solo be careful sitting next to men.

What language does the public speak in Morocco?

Moroccan local language commonly used is called Darija, it is like the Moroccan Arabic with similarities to the Arabic language.

Foreign Languages mostly spoken in Morocco are Arab and French.  At the northern part of Morocco such as Tangier, Spanish is spoken. At the most popular tourist areas such as Marrakech some English is spoken.

 

Taxi

Taxis are shared in Morocco. Do not be surprised if the driver stops and let another passenger inside. Since the taxi ride is shared routes taken could be longer making your travel time longer as well. If you are in a rush and want to have the taxi to yourself immediately tell the driver and you will be asked to pay a higher price similar to hiring a private car.

Is there taxi at Morocco Airport

It is easy to  get a taxi at airports in Morocco. There are several taxi lined up outside the airports.

Grand Taxi

The first public transportation you will experience in Morocco is the grand taxi or airport taxi or white taxi – it is all the same called in different names.

It is called grand taxi because it is bigger than the city taxis. White taxi because of the obvious that it is colored white. Airport taxi because it is mostly the only type of taxi that can go across cities and can travel to and from the airport.

The airport taxis in Morocco can be easily seen when you step out of the airport. There will be men (drivers) who will approach you offering their taxi.  Before agreeing to take a taxi ask first for the price because airport taxis in Morocco do not use meter. Remember to negotiate the price because taxi drivers are known to give high price to foreigners.

Outside Morocco airports there will be some porters or luggage carriers who will try to get and carry your luggage for you. If you do not necessary need help politely tell them no. They can be very persistent and you should be firm to decline if you do not need help to carry luggage.  Be careful as the unwanted service can have a high price for what it is. The porters will demand a price for the “help”.

For an idea of airport taxi price. Coming from Mohammed V (Casablanca) international airport to city center of Casablanca is around 30 kilometers, will cost 250-300 Moroccan Dirham (MAD) or approximately 23-30 US Dollars (USD).

Tips for taking taxi at Morocco Airport:

  • Haggle or negotiate price before entering airport taxi
  • Politely and firmly say no to porters or luggage carriers if you do not need them

How to take taxi around Morocco

Petite Taxi

City taxi or petite taxi is used to travel around within the city or town limits. The color depends on which city you are in. Petite taxi translates to small taxi, are used for short distance travel only.

Petite taxi colors

  • Red – Casablanca, Fez, Oujda, Nador, Azilal
  • Yellow – Midelt , salé
  • Light yellow – Tétouan
  • Beige/ cream – Marrakesh
  • Blue – Chefchaouen, Errachidia, Saïdia
  • Light Blue – Tanger (with yellow stripe), Meknes
  • Orange – Agadir, Berkane,
  • White – Ouarzazate, Taroudannt, El Jadida
  • Green – Azrou, Aklim, Ifrane
  • Light Green – Mohammedia

Difference of big taxi and small taxi in Morocco

If you want to go outside the city limit you should take the grand taxi (the same white taxi you get from the airport). Grand taxis can be usually found near tramway, bus and train stations, and busy areas such as tourist areas, medinas, and large shopping malls.

Taking taxi for solo female traveler

My first time riding a taxi in Morocco alone was a mixed of emotions. It was the most challenging, surprising, annoying, and scary  experience. Yet it is supposed to be a convenient mode of public transportation around the city for foreigners.

Challenging. Taxi drivers choose who they take in for the ride. You will most likely be denied of a ride if you are standing at the wrong side of the street opposite of the direction you want to go. During rush hour waiting time for a taxi could be around 30 minutes.

Surprising. Moroccan taxis are usually small old cars. Do not be surprised if the driver stops to get other passenger to share the ride with you. Moroccan taxis are basically shared taxis and you have no choice to cramp inside the small car with no air conditioning with several strangers. This is not  comfortable and not convenient if you are in a rush and the driver decides to drop you off last.

Annoying. Despite that taxis should use meters, drivers will still ask for more. This happens especially at crowded places where the taxis wait in line by the street such as bus and train stations, shopping malls, tourist areas and medinas. If you take a taxi parked by the street be sure to tell the driver to use the meter or negotiate the price before entering the car. Always ask for the meter price and negotiate before entering a parked taxi.

Taxis that you stop by the street will usually use the meter price. Check the price and pay the exact amount, if you ask the price some drivers will tend to demand a higher amount.

Scary. Taxis in Morocco are shared and during rush hour it will be often full. There are not much Asians in Morocco, and as an Asian female I get unwanted attention. There were times that I have been harassed sitting next to the driver such as squeezing my thigh (despite of wearing loose jeans) and inappropriately touching my face.

Tips for taking taxi in Morocco:

  • Women traveling solo in Morocco – avoid sitting next to the driver and avoid taking a taxi full of men.
  • Taxis stopped by the street mostly follow the meter for price
  • Negotiate prices when taking taxis parked by the street near crowded places

Tramway

How to take tramway / city train in Morocco

Currently the only tramway or city train in Morocco is found in Casablanca.

Casablanca tramway or Casa tramway has only 2 lines that pass through the large business districts. The Casablanca tramway rails do not branch out to the suburbs. It is not walking distance to go around Casablanca using the tramway.

Casablanca Tramway Rail Line 

  • Yellow line (T2) runs through Ain Diab – Bernoussi
  • Orange line (T1) runs through Lissasfa – Sidi Moumen

See Casablanca tramway station map here

How to buy tickets for Casablanca Tramway

A card pass is used as a ticket to ride the Casablanca tramway. It can be bought at machines at each station.

Multiple pass cards can be recharged at tramway stations, and ATMs.

Casablanca Tramway Schedule

Operations

  • Time open: 5:30 AM
  • Time close: 11:30 PM

See Casablanca tramway schedule Casa Tramway website. *Note that there is usually delay

Tips for taking Tramway in Casablanca:

  • Consider time allowance for delay
  • If your area of destination is far from tramway station. Consider taking a taxi instead.
  • Avoid rush hour

Train

How to take Train in Morocco (ONCF) 

Morocco train is operated by ONCF. Travelling by train is faster compared to travelling by bus. It is convenient to travel with the train at Morocco if you book it first class (or premiere). Although do not expect too much from first class, there is no special seats or service. The only difference with first class cabin is that it has guaranteed seats. The train can be overcrowded with no guaranteed seats when you book regular tickets. There is a high possibility that you will be standing for a long time at the hallway with all the luggages and other passengers especially if you ride from a busy station.

Train schedule is known for constant delays, although not always. Give an allowance of one (1) hour for possible delay.  Do not expect it to be always on time.

The advantage of taking the train is escaping the traffic and regular stops from taking a bus. There is sufficient leg room, toilet (not very clean but working), snacks and drinks for sale.

The first line of fast train was opened late 2018 and goes through only Casablanca and Rabat at the moment. Further expansion of the fast train is still under construction.

Morocco Train lines and Schedule

Regular train rails goes through:

  • Casablanca – Tanger
  • Casablanca –  Khouribga-Oued Zem
  • Benguérir-Safi
  • Casablanca – Nador
  • Fes – Casablanca
  • Tanger – Port Tanger
  • Casablanca – Oujda

Other train station stops in between the lines and respective schedules can be seen at ONCF website.

How to buy train tickets at Morocco

It is advised that you go in advance at the train station to buy the ticket. At the moment the ONCF train website only accepts online payment with Moroccan banks. There are ticket machines at the train station and also only accepts Moroccan bank cards. Some ticket machines accepts Moroccan Dirhams (MAD).

Connecting rides with Morocco train

ONCF train has connecting bus trips with Supratour. This is a good option as when you book the connecting trips, the bus will wait by the train station for you. It is convenient to avoid travel from train station to bus station and no time to waste waiting for the difference of train and bus schedules.

Tips for taking train at Morocco: 

  • Consider allowance time for delay. Approximately 30-40 minutes
  • Arrive early to buy tickets
  • Take first class

Bus

Buses in Morocco

Buses depart more on time compared to the train. Still, travelling by bus is longer compared to travelling by train due to longer roads, regular stops and traffic inside towns. Regular buses are cramped with small space.

Buses do not regularly travel to small non-touristy towns. There could be bus routes that are not available daily. Better to check bus schedule in advance.

Most bus company in Morocco will indicate that they have air conditioning but almost all are not working. There is only a small vent open at the middle of the bus. Windows do not open which can be very suffocating and uncomfortable in long travel. During summer think of the smell of donkey, dirty gym socks and armpit sweat without deodorant inside a crowded bus without ventilation. It is not fun.

There are several bus companies in Morocco. The top 2 best bus companies according to my personal preference are Suparatour and CTM.

1. Supratour

Supratour  bus works with ONCF train making it convenient for long distance travel where the train does not pass. You can buy the ticket connecting ONCF train – Supratour bus from ONCF train stations.  If you do not need a connecting train-bus ride buying tickets directly at Supratour bus station is possible. Supratour bus is a bit more expensive than other bus companies so there are less people taking it and therefore less crowded. It is the only bus that I have taken that has working air conditioning which is very convenient during long travel in Morocco. There were times that the bus driver did not turn on the air conditioning because there were only few passengers. Be persistent in nagging the driver to turn it on and talk with the other passengers to help nag the driver for air conditioning. Group effort helps. The drivers can be stubborn trying to save fuel price used for air conditioning for their pocket money.

2. CTM

The next best option to Supratour bus is CTM. They have first class (premiere) buses on some routes but have few available schedules. CTM bus travel more routes than Supratour bus. The downside is that there is no air conditioning and windows do not open. See description of bus smell above.

Tips for taking bus in Morocco:

  • Arrive early. Buses are usually on time for scheduled departure
  • Check for bus schedule
  • Buy bus tickets in advance
  • Take Supratour for comfort with proper air conditioning
  • Take CTM first class
    • Otherwise enjoy the summer smell 🙂

Ride Hailing Application

Ride hailing applications are new and operate discreetly in Morocco as it is considered as a threat competition by taxi drivers. Similar to some countries Uber was not well accepted by taxi drivers who protested against it. There was Uber in Morocco a few years ago which lasted only for a short period. Taxi drivers were throwing rocks and harassing the the Uber drivers.

Careem

Careem is similar to Uber, still new and operations is discreet. There is not much Careem drivers available but it is growing. Careem drivers would avoid picking-up and dropping off passengers at busy places where there are taxis parked. Passengers are requested to meet away from the visibility of taxi drivers. When riding Careem the passengers are asked to sit next to the driver to appear like a family car and avoid attention from the taxi drivers.

Caution for solo women traveling as it is required to sit next to the drivers. To avoid harassment it can be useful to carry a large bag and put it in between you and the driver.

I have not tried taking a Careem alone, as I have been avoiding riding next to drivers since being harassed by taxi drivers. I am not sure if they are more respectful of foreign women travelling solo than taxi drivers.

Other ride hailing applications in Morocco

  • Heetch
  • Yalla

Morocco: China Town

There is no real China town in Morocco as the Asian community is small in the country. At Casablanca there is an area comparable to China town in the sense that there are low cost made in China items sold in shops and by the street at a small neighborhood. The vendors and shop owners are mostly Moroccans not like the real China town wherein most of the shop owners are Chinese immigrants.

Shops and street best buys:

  • kitchenware – casserole, pan, utensils, plates, glasses
  • bedding – duvet, bet cover, pillow
  • toilet equipment – shower curtain
  • organizers – portable cabinet, indoor clothes dryer
  • decorations – mirrors, painting
  • fabric

Chinese Grocery

At the same area there is a Chinese grocery that serves Asian condiments and food that are hard to find. It is also the only place I found that sells pork meat.

Some of the best finds at the Chinese grocery:

  • Pork
  • Maggi seasoning
  • Hot pot / Shabu Shabu balls
  • Sio mai / dimsum (beef)
  • Dried vegetable snacks
  • Noodles for stir fry and soup

Chinese Grocery map:

*Map may not be accurate. Landmark is Yammy restaurant along boulevard Rahal El Meskini 

Derb Omar 

Derb Omar is like the China town of Casablanca. This is best place to go to if  you are looking for cheap buys and do not want to go to the tourist-y medina and haggle.

Derb Omar map: 

Morocco: Top Shopping in Casablanca

Alpha 55

Alpha 55 mall is like a mini department store for home, personal, school and office supplies. I personally like the decorations and stationery area. There are imported items with average prices.

Best to shop for:

  • Home supplies such as kitchenware, dining ware, bath and garden supplies
  • Decorations such as candles, table top and wall decorations
  • Small furniture such as coffee tables, chairs, portable closet
  • Cheap accessories such as necklace, bracelet, earring
  • Personal hygiene products such as facial and body creams, soaps, shampoos, hair dye, even nail products
  • School and office supplies, such as papers, pens folders, books, stationary.

Pricing:  Low to Mid-range

Alpha 55 Mall address: *Near the French consulate

Morocco Mall

Morocco mall is the largest shopping mall in Casablanca with wide range to choose from. Shops range from cheap to luxury brands. The top floor is mainly for the the luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi, and others.  At the ground floor there is a shop called Marjane which is a grocery-department store that offers lower priced items. Mid-priced brands include H&M, Zara, Pull&Bear, Marwa, LC Waikiki and others.

Main attraction at Morroco mall is the large cylindrical indoor aquarium at the center of the ground floor. Different sea animals can be seen such as shark, manta ray, eels, and various fishes.

Restaurants are lined outside the Morocco mall facing the sea. The outside area can be windy and chilly especially at night.

At one end of the top floor, opposite the luxury shops is a fast food area, with popular franchises such as  McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC. There are shops for ice cream, asian food, sandwich, tacos, pizza, and moroccan food.

In front of Morocco mall, at the right side, before the entrance you can find the only IMAX cinema in Casablanca. English movies (with original English audio) are shown every Tuesdays and Thursdays. Imax Casablanca Schedule

FNAC

FNAC is a good shop for branded electronics such as phones, laptops, speakers, headsets. Most of electronic accessories can be found here. Second floor of FNAC is for books (mostly French and Arabic), there is a small section for classic English books. Stationery, notebooks, and writing supplies are also at the second floor of FNAC.

Yan&One

Yan&One is like a Sephora of Morocco, though I have only seen one shop in Casablanca. It is at the center of the ground floor of Morocco mall. Yan&One offers large selection of cosmetics and bath products. It has Yan&One products and imported brands from France, US, Korea, and UK.

Marjane

There is a Marjane grocery.department store at Morocco mall. Marjane is a one stop shop for:

  • Grocery, fresh food, bread, pastries, alcohol
  • Home supplies, kitchenware and equipment
  • Electronics – tv, laptop, mouse, speakers, cellphone
  • Repair tools –  super glue, screw drivers
  • Stationery – papers, folders, pens, books, pins, stablers, rulers, glue
  • Clothe – underwear, pyjamas, shirts, shorts, shoes, slippers, socks,

In general Morocco mall is best to shop for:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Accessories
  • Jewelries
  • Home Supplies
  • Electronics
  • Grocery
  • Telecommunication
  • Cinema
  • Restaurants

View Morocco mall shops and restaurants here.

Pricing: low to high-range

Morocco mall address:

Anfaplace Mall

Anfaplace mall is smaller than Morocco mall, with mid-range priced shops.

The advantage of Anfa mall is that it has a better sea view with direct access to the beach. It is 5 minutes walking distance to the corniche which is a long walkway by the sea with several restaurants with sea view.

There is a fastfood area at the top floor of Anfaplacce mall with a sea view.

Anfaplace is best to shop for:

  • Virgin – It has more choices of electronics brands than FNAC (Morocco mall)
  • Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories
  • Carrefour – grocery

View Anfaplace mall shops and restaurants here.

Pricing: Mid-range

Anfaplace mall address:

Boulevard Al Massira / Maarif

Branded

Near twin center along boulevard Al Massira is a row of branded mid-high priced shops such as LC Waikiki, Addidas, Zara, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Aldo, and Parfois. There is Massimo Dutti which is more pricey. More shops can be found at the small streets adjacent to boulevard Al Massira.

Boulevard Al Massira Khadra – Branded shops location:

Non-Branded

If you take the Maarif exit from inside the Twin Center there is an area of more local shops with low-priced (non–branded) items. Walking around the area you can find shops for shoes, clothes, accessories and jewelry.

Maarif local shopping location:

Bookstore – Maarif

At the back of Mcdonalds, Maarif there is a bookstore with large selection. Mostly in French and Arabic and few English books.

 Maarif Bookstore location:

Morocco: Promenade Near Hassan II Mosque

CASABLANCA: As of January 2019, the promenade along Hassan II mosque by the beach has been partially opened to public. The promenade-park construction is not fully finished however the public can enjoy the walkway with the view of the sea and Hassan II mosque. Once finished it could be a nice activity area for the family to hang-out. It is not like the Anfa corniche that is a long concrete walkway. The promenade along Hassan II mosque is more green with grass lawns and more plants which is more like a park and activity area. At the moment the playground equipment for children and outdoor gym for adults are already available for use. There are long benches to relax and enjoy the view, and some people are already using the jogging path. Still under construction are (probable) areas for shops, access along the road and the rest of the corniche.

Activities:

  • Enjoy the view, take photos
  • Walkway, bicycle, or jogging path
  • Benches to hangout
  • Playground for children
  • Outdoor gym equipment
  • (Probable) snack and refreshment shops to open
  • Water Fountain

Entrance

So how can you enter the promenade if the access to the road is closed?

You can enter by the side of Hassan II mosque.

Review:

It looked like a fresh side of Casablanca in contrast to the rest of the concrete filled city. The green grass and plants in front of the sea makes the Hassan II mosque promenade a calming hangout. Public parks and green space in Casablanca that is family friendly is something difficult to find (if not close to none). Hopefully they keep it secured from pickpockets once fully opened to public.