Another exciting travel day

First off, no one faints or gets hurt in this story. There, you can relax. But, you know something happened if we’re writing about a travel day….

We had a 5:50am flight from Cairo to Casablanca, then a connection onto Marrakech. This meant that we had to depart from our Airbnb at 2:50am. UGH.

After all of that, our flight departs from Cairo about an hour late. Our layover in Casablanca is only 50 minutes. We are nervous.

We arrive in Casablanca at 10:05am and our flight departs at 10:20am. We take a bus from the plane to the terminal, run through the terminal, and get to the gate at 10:15am and are told that the plan has already departed. There are about a dozen of us who were on the Cairo flight and have missed our connection. It’s mind-boggling the plane did not wait or us! Same airline for both flights – so they should have known we were on the ground and at the airport!!!

The Royal Air Maroc rep at the gate tells us we must go back to the ticket counter to exchange our tickets for the next flight. She tells us, “Go up the stairs, to the left.” The directions are useless. They lead us back where we came from down a hallway that says no passage/do not enter. Along the way, we collect more Marrakech flight passengers and redirect them with us. We find a guard who does not seem at all disturbed that a group of people are coming down the “no passage” hallway. We explain that we need new tickets and he says, “Down there to the left.” We go the wrong way through the metal detector, turn left, and encounter another guard who again tells us, “Go left.” It’s beginning to feel like we would have gotten here a lot faster if we had just gone right at the start. Any fans of the movie “Spinal Tap” may recognize this as the “Hello Cleveland” scene from the movie where they get lost trying to find the stage!

The group of us descend upon the ticket counter and they are surprise/overwhelmed that we have missed our flight. It’s the first they’ve heard of it. It’s chaotic as we’re all trying to simultaneously rebook flights. In the end, we decide to take the bus the airline offers “that will leave very soon. As soon as you go through passport and collect your checked baggage.” The next flight they tell us is at 8pm. (We find out later from talking to the other passengers that different groups were told that the next flight was at 3pm or 6pm or 8pm. We all end up taking the bus.) They give us directions on where to go to for border security, baggage, customs, and to get the bus. But the directions are not clear so the group (MDT, DQT and 4 kick-ass older ladies from CA and LV) insists that they send a staff escort with us. They say sure, sure. The escorts walks us literally down the hallway then points the rest of the way. That’s as far as she will go. But she assures us that once we get through passport/border security and collect our baggage, we only need to go to travel accommodations and they will take care of us. They will know we need a bus. She assures us. We are not assured. The kick-ass ladies are PISSED.

We stand in line and get through border security. DQ has a moment of panic because she cannot find our baggage claim tickets. It’s times like this when we will need those damn tickets. MDT panics, too, and starts to leave the line to retrace our steps, but, thankfully, something goes our way and the claim tickets are found in a zipper pocket!

We go to baggage claim and they don’t now where our baggage is. We get referred to a couple of different people. The last woman we are referred to tells us to watch Carousel 1. Our bags will be out in 10 minutes. 20 minutes later we are now looking for this woman because nothing has happened with the bags. Though in this time, we have met more of the stranded Marrakech group – a French Canadian guy and 4 African American women. So now we are 11 who have committed to this bus thing.

The baggage woman emerges and collects our baggage tickets (it is important to keep those damn things, people). She disappears through the back of the baggage carousel. We wait.

She finally re-emerges and 45 minutes after we arrived at baggage claim, our bags are rolling in…and they’re all totally drenched. It’s raining in Casablanca and it’s clear the bags have just been sitting outside on the tarmac after our plane arrived 2 hours ago.

We re-confirm where we are supposed to go next: “Travel Accommodations – upstairs second floor.” Thankfully there is no line at Customs and we breeze right through. We’re the first to get our baggage so we tell the others we’ll meet them at Travel Accommodations.

We go up to the second floor and there’s nothing called “Travel Accommodations”. There is, however, an office called Travel and Lodging. DQ gets in line while MDT and the French-Canadian keep searching. DQ’s line is not long, but it is clear that this is where people go when Royal Air Meroc needs to fix or make something up to someone. So the wait is long. One guy walks the line to check in with each person on their issue. For everyone else he listens and takes their ticket. When he gets to DQ he says, “Yes, Marrakech, okay.” And just walks by without explanation. DQ stops him and he confirms this is the right office and they will get us a bus.

When it is our turn in line, DQ is told that the bus has been called and is coming in 30 minutes, please wait downstairs and you will be called when it arrives. This, of course, sounded ridiculous. How would they know who to call for the bus? Who was gathering us? Where is the bus dropping us off? The answer: They will know it is you. It is that man down there *points to guy in puffy jacket*. He has seen you. Please wait in the chairs downstairs.

After 30 minutes, DQ checks in upstairs and she is told, the bus is here. We are waiting for the other passengers. 15 more minutes. We wait and DQ checks in again to let them know all the passengers are here. They say 10 of you? We say there are 11 of us. “Oh, okay. 10 minutes more. We leave in 10 minutes.” In frustration, DQ exclaims, “You told us 30 minutes, then 15 minutes, now 10 minutes?!!” A few others customers in the office snicker. Puffy jacket guy just smiles, holds out his hands, and shrugs. UGH.

Finally, puffy jacket guy comes downstairs and yells out, “Marrakech!” Four other people besides the 11 of us gather. It turns out – we didn’t learn this until we were in the van and about to depart – that the 4 new people were getting dropped off at a hotel in Casablanca…totally the opposite direction to Marrakech from the airport, adding an extra hour to our bus ride. BUT WHAT THE HELL WHY NOT.

Anyways…we are safely in Marrakech after what was supposed to be a 30min flight from Casablanca turned into a 7 hour luggage, immigration, and bus ride. We have met up with MDT’s cousin Erin (our motivation for this whole trip). She gave us a brisk walk through through the Medina on our way to a delicious Moroccan dinner. We recount this story to Erin who tells us several stories from other friends, all as bad or worse than ours…all on Royal Air Meroc. She says people were texting her all day as we gave her updates on our arrival time to ask if her stranded family had flown Royal Air Meroc. In short….please come to Morocco, but try to avoid using Royal Air Meroc to get here!

But that is all behind us…Now we are tucked away in a lovely riad for the evening. And tomorrow we head out to an overnight stay in the Agafay Desert.

Addendum: On our last night in Marrakech, we stop by a wine bar (these are rare in the city; more on that in a later post). We’re chilling and who walks in but the French Canadian from our horrible travel ordeal?!? Seemed like closure.

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