Out of Africa

April 23, 2007


Despite our flying into Madrid, it was a long day’s night leaving Africa. We left Essouria at one in the afternoon and did not land in Madrid until after three o’clock in the morning. As usual, Mozart found it to be a very exciting day, but her parents were less enthused.

We got a new driver in a blue Essouria, but he was also part of Ali’s team. I am not sure who Ali is but he seems to know everyone and we ran into him so much we joked that he must be triplets. We first met him through the people at L’Orangerie and he helped us out that first hectic night. In fact, Mozart and I sat in his cab with his very young wife with his toddler son who looks just like him, when they were hunting for our “lost” passports.

For some reason, Ali had seat belts in his back seat, so we listened when he talked to us about taking us to Essouria and back to the airport. Once, when we were out on the street about to get a taxi, he came out of nowhere and picked us up. He spoke English good as well as Spanish and many other languages and was a very outgoing guy.

It was all a pleasant ride in from Essouria on mainly straight flat roads until we neared the airport and it started to rain. Then we happened upon a horrible traffic jam which seemed to really puzzle our driver. He did not speak English like our last driver or Ali, so we were not sure what was going on, but it did not look good as he called over and over again rattling away on his cellphone in Arabic while we sat and sat in stopped dead traffic.

Out of the blue, there is Ali and his big grin at our window! Typical of this man,  he somehow knew that this had something to do with the King at the airport. The next thing we knew we were jumping out of our taxi and being herded across traffic lanes to jump into Ali’s van where an English couple were anxious about missing a flight back to London that was leaving very shortly.

We were taking Easy Jet and this was our first experience with a European cheap flight carrier, so I
was a little nervous and not sure what we were in for. DaVinci thinks they should rename themselves “Will-my-plane-ever-get-here Jet” instead. We whiled away some time thinking of funny jokes as we waited for hours. Mozart thought “I-am-getting-tired-of waiting-here Jet” was the best name
and I liked “My-butt-is-getting-sore-from-sitting-so-long Jet”.

We had a few jokes about our dinner too, which was a couple bags of potato chips. We got thru customs easy enough and they did not seem to mind our backpacks and a violin, but once you get thru, they do not let you back out. There were not any places to eat at the boarding gate, so we were lucky to get the last of the potato chips.

We were extremely early for our plane and I noticed that not too many people were taking it and worried some if it would be a very teeny plane. The time came and went for that flight, so we needn’t have worried. Every time we talked to someone we got a different story, but the bottom line is there was nothing to do but wait.

After many hours, suddenly the tiny airport started picking up with lots of Spanish speaking people. It seems they were there for a ten PM flight which was the last flight out of Marrakech to Spain and several hours after our original flight. That time too, came and went with no word on what was going on, so we
all just waited and waited together. They were disappointed with their little delay, but had no idea how many hours we had been waiting.

Oddly, there were even cats in the airport and we witnessed one of the strangest sights I have ever seen, around midnight in Marrakech in this surreal world of endless waiting. Suddenly there was wild cat screechings and we were all observing a cat fight in the center of the small waiting area! The people applauded when it was done, I guess because it was good entertainment.

It caught me by too much surprise to get a picture, as I was dumbfounded by the sight and sounds in my weary state. Mozart was bouncing off the walls and having a great time. I did get a picture of one of the cats earlier though as it stalked around the airport, perfectly ignored by all the employees.

We didn’t even have books because we were packed so light and I was too afraid to take out the laptop as I thought it would be like advertising and asking for trouble. We did have two books for Mozart, so we took turns reading them to her and allowing her to do some silent reading or drawing. She had a few small things to occupy her, including her diary which has the cat fight story in it.

It took us almost the same time to take the “quick” way out of Africa as it did taking the long way in and cost a lot more. You just never know what will happen in Morocco.....and that is part of its charm.




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