Friday, November 26, 2010

Travel Report: WPT Marrakech, Arrival

WPT MarrakechThe skies were blue in northwestern Africa today. Saw a few clouds passing as though pushed by the light wind, but otherwise clear and calm. And perhaps a little fuzzy-looking, given the sleep-deprived state of your humble reporter.

The flights were all fine, though in the end the trip took a few hours longer than had been scheduled. The penultimate leg from JFK to Casablanca was the longest of the journey, taking close to eight hours. Had to smile a little when the stewardess came around with choices for my Thanksgiving dinner. “Fish or beef,” she said. I chose the one that sounded closer to turkey.

Am not complaining, though. While I didn’t get to enjoy the customary ritual of overstuffing myself to which we Americans are used to on the holiday, the in-flight meal -- a small salad with cucumber and tomato, a cold corn-and-shrimp dish with feta, beef tips, small potatoes, broccoli spears, carrot sticks, a hunk of cheddar, and some cheesecake topped off with hot tea -- was more than enough to satisfy.

Unfortunately for me, though, the meal did not succeed in putting me to sleep the way Thanksgiving dinners generally do, and so while my fellow travelers dozed I listened to tunes, resigning myself to continued consciousness. I almost never sleep well on planes, anyhow, and so can’t say I expected anything different.

It was still dark out when we finally touched down in Casablanca, although dawn was close. Elissa (a.k.a., ebhizzle) joined me in New York, and we were guided along with the rest of the passengers from the plane, across the tarmac, and inside the airport.

From there we were pretty much on our own, as once we made our way down the initial hallway all signs of airport personnel vanished. The signs were in Arabic and French, and having enough of the latter to have a little bit of a clue, I was able to help us choose correctly at the first uncertain crossroad. Eventually we found someone to give us a verbal directive, and an uncertain half-dozen turns we came upon a lobby-like room that sort of resembled a terminal.

There we found a television screen indicating our final flight, and parked it expecting a short wait before continuing on to Marrakech. Alas, we’d end up watching the sun rise and day get well underway, our flight delayed more than two hours. There was no explanation, but others indicated such is the norm.

By the time we made it to Marrakech, picked up Elissa’s checked bag (against her well-formed expectations that it would not make the trip with us), and got some local currency into our pockets, it was nearing lunchtime. Took a taxi to the hotel, our aggressive driver dangerously sharing the road with numerous pedestrians, mopeds, horse-drawn carriages, and even a few camels (which caught me off-guard, camera-wise, or you woulda seen ’em here, too).

Checked in without too much fuss, noting some poker people about (players and media). Then also noting we were both going on 24 hours or so of journeying, it was agreed that naps were in order. The third member of our reporting team, the venerable Mickey (1-2-3!), made it a couple of hours after we did, and the plan will be for us all to rest up some more before heading out for dinner and perhaps a bit of exploring tonight.

Not much to report thus far, then. Hearing French, seeing Euros being passed, and a few other quirks of public transportation together evoke early comparisons with other European locales, but we’ll see how far that line of thinking goes as the next few days progress. More to come.

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