Stranded in Morocco: Musings of a Missed Flight
How I Survived a Night Alone in Morocco
So I should preface this tale by giving a little backstory. It was the summer of 2015 and I had been studying abroad in Paris. I had gone to visit my good friend Phil in Morocco and had spent ten days traveling all over the country. It had been gorgeous, but exhausting. I had been eaten alive by bugs, I had showered maybe twice, I had gotten blisters all over my feet, and I had lugged around my 1,000 pound backpack through countless cities, on numerous trains, and more than a few life-threatening taxicab rides. It was time to go back to Paris.
The morning of my flight we woke in Chefchaouen bright and early to head back to Casablanca where I had to catch my 5:30pm flight back to Paris. We left at 7am to head down the mountain to Tangier, where we would catch the train to Casablanca.
We made it with plenty of time. The next train left in half an hour and was supposed to only be 5 hours long with one switch, getting us to Casablanca with plenty of time for me to catch my flight. Now this first leg was supposed to take 2 hours and our second leg was supposed to take 3. However, I soon learned in Morocco, these times were more like guidelines, not accurate estimates. We had been on our first leg for about three hours when we were still three stops away from where we needed to switch. At this point I started to worry. A soft, gentle, internal worry.
Well soon enough we got to our transfer destination where we switched onto the next train. Now this train was supposed to take 3 hours, but 4 hours later we were still on and I started to panic. I sat in a huge puddle of anxiety while all my fellow travel companions slept and constantly reminded me to calm down, which I couldn’t.
Well finally, we were on the move again and we made it to the Casablanca station by 4:30. My flight left in an hour and it was about a 30 minute taxi ride to the airport. So I said goodbye to Phil and my friends. They were staying on the train and heading all the way down to Marrakesh that evening. Far far away from me, leaving me completely on my own in Casablanca bound for the airport.
So I hopped in a cab and off we went. In my broken French, all the while attempting not to cry, I tried to tell the cab driver that I needed him to go extra fast because I might miss my flight. As we drove I noticed with despair that the meter wasn’t on. So, fearfully I attempted to ask how much the ride was going to cost. ‘300 Dirhams’ he responded. 300 dirhams! Now I knew that I was expected to bargain in Morocco so I told him, 200 dirhams. And he looked at me like I was crazy. 300 dirhams he repeated. Ok, so much for my haggling. Well, we finally got to the airport around 5:10pm, 20 minutes till take off, and I really didn’t have the time to argue with this man about the price so I threw my 200 dirhams at him and took off running into the airport all the while screaming ‘desoleeee!’.
When I finally get into the airport, the denumount of my tale arrives. I looked over to see the Air France check in desk completely empty. Gone. Done. No one. So I run to a nearby desk and asked and begged if they knew if I could still make my flight. No go. Can’t get on if I’m not checked in. Flight missed. Alone. Casablanca. Morocco. North Africa. Panic ensues.
I think. I need a new flight. I see Royal Air Moroc. I had seen this airline in Paris multiple times, I decided it was as good a bet as any. I went up to the counter to see if I could get a ticket. He told me that they did fly to Paris. Success! But, they didn’t have any flights until the next morning. Failure! What? No flights till tomorrow? What was I going to do in Casablanca for the night? Where was I going to stay?
I make my way up to the ticket office and after waiting for forever it was my turn and I practically yelled ‘Get me the next ticket out of here!’ With the enthusiasm of a slug, the man in front of me looks at his computer silently. I sit there in anticipation, waiting for him to tell me that there are no flights ever again and I might as well get used to living in Morocco. Thankfully that was not what he said. He tells me I could catch the 8am the next morning and I could book a hotel through them. Two hefty bills later I had somewhere to sleep that was warm, close by with a lock on the door and I had a flight back.
I check into the hotel. It’s only halfway built, but I have a room with a huge bed, a cockroach free shower, and Wi-Fi in a select corner of the hallway, so I can’t complain. That night I eat a ‘dinner’ of cold pasta and turkey with a yogurt and an apple in the hotel cafeteria. I sit and eat all by myself and pray that I don’t miss my flight the next morning.
Morning time came and I was ready. I was not going to miss this flight. I got to the airport 3 hours early. I. Was. Ready. The moment I got on my flight I knew this was it. I was going to make it. Adios Morocco, it was a great trip, but really it was time for me to go. Flying, every minute felt like an hour. We touched down in Paris and I got up and ran off that plane as quickly as I could. I had made it.