Sunday, January 23, 2011

Morocco 6

posted 11/03/08

The plan:

Megan, her friend Kelly, SH and I would go to the market while Steve watched the kids. We would return by 1:20 so Steve could drive us the 70 miles to the airport in Casablanca.

The execution:

11:30 We set out for the market. The car is making funny sounds. It’s choking, Megan says. The car sputters and dies. SH suggests that maybe something is wet. (Did I mention that it is pouring down rain in Rabat and the streets are flooded? This is not a city designed for water.) The car tries to start but it won’t catch. SH suggests that it might be the fuel pump, in which case not only are we not going to the market, but Megan and Steve face a major repair on a car that they need only until June and SH and I no longer have transportation to the airport.

11:40 Megan calls Steve and Kelly’s husband. Kelly’s husband can’t take us to the airport because their only car is a government car and there are strict rules on the use. Steve tells Megan to leave the car where it is and he’ll get a mechanic out there tomorrow. Kelly knows a taxi service that will actually pick up at the house. (As opposed to walking four blocks to a major street to flag one down. In the pouring rain.)

11:45 SH suggests pushing the car back to the house as it is only one block. We do so. In the pouring rain. Kelly calls the taxi service and tells them to be at the house at 12:15 to take SH and me to the train station for the 1:05 train to the aiport.

12:15 No taxi.

12:18 SH walks to the major road to summon a taxi. In the pouring rain.

12:23 SH returns with a taxi. He buys 200 dirhams from Megan (we had already spent all our Moroccan cash and the train doesn’t take credit cards). We load up, say our goodbyes, and leave.

12:25 The taxi driver asks us about Obama. Sheesh.

12:40 We arrive at the train station. There are two trains to Casa Ain Sabaa, the station where we change to the airport train. One leaves at 12:50, one at 1:05. Both arrive at the airport at the same time. We choose the 1:05 option as it is the one that actually lists the airport as a destination.

12:59 The disembodied voice of some woman tells us in Arabic and in French that the 12:50 train is delayed 20 minutes.

1:05 Our train does not arrive.

1:10 Our train does not arrive, but the 12:50 train does. Should we get on it instead? We have 47 seconds to make a decision and cross to the other platform. We decide No, Let’s stay where we are because they have not announced a delay for our train, have they, so it must be pretty much on time.

1:20 Where is our train? I demand of the train guy at the station door. He shrugs. Surely, this is not a situation that could have been anticipated and announced.

1:23 Our train is delayed 30 minutes. Our backup plan, now that we have spent $20 on train tickets, is to take a taxi all the way to the airport, which would set us back only $60.

1:37 Our train arrives. We ask the conductor how frequently the connecting train to the airport runs from Ain Sabaa. He doesn’t know. SH and I continue to stress. Can we take a taxi from Ain Sabaa to the airport? How much would it cost? Our flight is at 5:00. What if we don’t get there until 4:00? Things do take longer in foreign airports. Yes, they do.

2:25 We arrive in Ain Sabaa. The conductor taps my shoulder as we disembark. There is the airport train, he says as he points to the other platform. The train, she is waiting! We run. I ask the French couple sitting next to us how long one has attended the train and they tell me they are arrived after 20 minutes of to wait. Even if we had taken the “12:50” train, we would have been on the same connection. We feel better.

3:00 We arrive at the airport. Madness upon disembarkation. Everyone (100?) converges on one door to the airport – a door where they have one security guard screening passengers. One attends. And attends. As we inch closer to the door, a guy walks to the front of the line. No one says anything. He leaves his bag and returns with his girlfriend. Still nobody says anything. The girlfriend leaves and returns with her friend. I am getting annoyed and mutter things about linecutters. I glare at girl #2. She looks back at me, puzzled. I say It must to wait su torno back there. (Yes, my brain thinks there are two languages: English and all others. If I can’t think of how to say it in French, I throw in some Spanish.) She shrugs. I persist: You are not the next one. Him, then him, then us. You must attend there (pointing to the back). She rolls her eyes and turns around. The guy in front of me – one of the cut upon – says Is not a problem. Is only one, two minute. I am flabbergasted that he thinks line cutting is OK. I sulk.

3:15 We arrive at the check-in counter. Not really a line, just random pushing. We get to the front and are told we are in the wrong terminal.

3:30 We arrive at the proper terminal and find our counter. Three guys cut in line from the right, but as I was only halfway paying attention and am not positive, I say nothing. Our flight is delayed an hour anyhow, so what else are we going to do but stand in line?

3:32 The line is not moving because the computer is broken. A guy tries to take the computer from the next counter, which is not being used, and move it to ours. Funnily, that does not work, which is when it occurs to him to move the people to a working counter instead.

3:37 We are at a working counter. An entire family cuts in front of us. I protest and the woman bitches at me in French. How dare I? Unbeknownst to her, she drops the key after locking her suitcase. SH notices and asks me if he should tell her. Absolutely not, I say.

3:47 We get to the counter. The rude woman returns with a question. Then her husband returns. We finally get the agent's attention. I ask him what one says when one is attending and another puts himself in front of one. Je suis avant vous, he tells me, and makes me practice it five times.

4:10 We are in passport control in the regular people line. A woman goes to the business class line where there is nobody waiting. The passport guy looks at her ticket and tells her to get into the regular line. I feel like cheering.

6:30 We actually leave, over an hour past scheduled departure.

9:00 We arrive in Madrid and go straight for the churros y chocolate shop.

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