Three hours to Casablanca and boy did we know we had arrived in Africa. Starting with the look of the land below as we flew over a patchwork of greens, purples and desert brown, and then the announcement from the pilot as we were landing: "Welcome to Casablanca, the temperature is a comfortable 39 degrees". The airport is a desert, though the runway is paved...the building is low and narrow and since our layover is 3 hours we wander some of the 'duty free' shops where sunglasses are 150Euros and chocolate is 5Euros. The 'cafeteria' is smoky and smells terrible; the food is scary looking. Mira wants an espresso and I am relieved when the woman says 'No Coffee!" and I am spared having to sit. Finally we head to the gate, 2 hours before our flight. Mind you, this means moving just 100 feet back down the long hallway and passing through a small security check. They do scan our carry-on bags though they do not want my laptop out for inspection. Mira sets off the alarm when she walks through, but the guard smiles and smiles and waves her on. I had to look to be certain the Xray machine was really working, and yes something was up on the screen. But it didn't feel very secure! The waiting area at our gate (9A, B, C) was two connecting rooms, and about 7 bathrooms which were quite clean. One room seemed to be the smokng room, the other not. No signs as to which flights might be leaving from the A, B, or C gates. There was a small concession with drinks and snacks, but the prices - 3Euros for a small bag of chips - were intimidating. We waited and waited. At about the time we were supposed to board there was a flurry of activity, crowds gathering, rapid fire announcements over a loud speaker, so fast I couldn't even tell what language was being spoken never mind what they were saying. Finally we are befriended by a Moroccan man who speaks some English and he explains that though they are boarding a flight to Marrakech it is not *our* flight to Marrakech - our flight has been delayed for 20 minutes. Then it's 45 minutes. Then an hour. Then the officials disappear and I am beginning to remember my time in the Nairobi airport when the airline staff closed up shop and left the passengers stranded without a single thought. We stuck close to the man who had translated for us - he was scheduled on the same flight as us - and Mira was befriended by a Brit who came over to her on frequent intervals to check in - but it was hard to relax wondering if the plane might leave without us. Finally after 7 - more two hours late, and more than 5 hours after we landed in Casablanca - we got in line, went down some stairs and onto a bus which drove about 25 feet then dropped us at the plane. We boarded, took off, had a glass of water, and then had to get ready for the landing. I think the flight time was about 30 minutes, and it occurred to us it might have been quicker to drive from Casablanca to Marrakech than wait for the plane.
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4 years ago