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9/2/09 Leaving Morocco on RyanAir

They blinked at me. They glanced at each other. With wide eyes and the reassuring tones you’d use on a crazy person, they explained slowly, “It’s not time for Sevilla yet.”

“This line is for Belgium passengers.”

Their voices overlapped as they competed to talk the psycho (me) off the ledge.

“Sevilla will check in over there.” “Later.” “You’ll need to wait.”

They acted like I’d tried to check in for my flight a month in advance, not two hours. Two hours! Exactly the window recommended and often required for international travel leaving from the US.

I took another look at the monitors. The listed flight, the flight that folks were allowed to check in for, was scheduled to depart in less than half an hour. Check-in had officially closed 20 minutes ago. I looked at the boards hanging over RyanAir’s other lines. They were for flights leaving 30 minutes after this one. There were no lines for anyone hoping to check in more than an hour before scheduled takeoff.

I nodded, picked up my Leaning Tower of Possessions, and headed in the indicated direction. Maybe 15 people lingered, loitered, chatted, and generally waited in a line-like cluster that looked no more nor less like a line than anything else I’d seen. Queuing, I have concluded, is an acquired skill that many Moroccans have yet to acquire.

I dropped my stuff and slumped against a column. I’d carried two huge backpacks across half of Morocco yesterday and half of Fes today; I wasn't picking them up again until I had a firm destination.

I pulled out my journal:

So here I sit, waiting. I awakened early this morning, visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. (Dude, I’m flying to the land of sushi and guacamole and ice cream. If that’s not Christmas morning, what is?) I’d set my alarm for 6:15, but popped up at 5:45, and decided to roll with it. Why 6:15? Back calculations: 9:40 flight to Sevilla means 7:40 check-in. Bus to the airport takes half an hour and leaves on the hour from the train station, so I have to be at the train station at 7:00. The train is ten minutes across town by petit taxi, but there aren’t many taxis around at that hour, so I should be out by 6:30. No morning shower means speedy morning routine, hence the 6:15 wakeup call. My entire morning was planned around the expectation that checking in two hours before your flight is, you know, a *good*idea*. Turns out that the good folks at RyanAir think it's a specimen of insanity. Sigh.

My morning had gone as planned. Having the extra half hour meant that I got to repack carefully and take my time, but still got out onto the street by 6:15. No taxis at the Bab Bou Jeloud, so I walked out to the main street, about two blocks away, and found one.

“SbaH lxir. MaHta l-tren, 3afak?”
Good morning. Train station, please?
“You speak Arabic?”
“No, I don’t know Arabic. I know Tamazight, and a few words of Arabic.”
“Are you fasting?”
“Yes, I’m fasting.”
“Do you pray?”
“Yes, I pray.”
“Are you Muslim?”
“No, I’m Christian.”
“Then you don’t really pray.”
“I do pray, but I don’t pray like you. I pray like my parents.”

Just another morning in the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer…except that this particular morning, I’m headin’ to America! (OK, yes, heading to Sevilla, Spain. But only as a stopover en route to America.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. L-train means "to train", from Arabic "li", but Train Station, you gotta use an "of" here which is "dial train", or "d train" for short !


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